January 2006 Archives

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EMERGE Member Anu Saxena Wins Award - January 27, 2006

A quick note from David Steele:

Last night at Tampa's Quorum Hotel, Lakeland's own Anu Saxena, President of ASC Geosciences, Inc., was honored by the Tampa Bay Business Journal as the "2006 Minority Business Person of the Year" in the business services sector. Saxena, a finalist in what was by far the night's most competitive category, seemed genuinely surprised.

In his brief and very gracious acceptance remarks, Saxena thanked his family, his employees, and his community. In particular, he cited specific figures from Lakeland's history (Jenkins, Sikes, etc.) who have modeled corporate citizenship. After congratulating all of the other finalists, he concluded by telling a crowd dominated by Hillsborough and Pinellas County residents, "Let me close by making a pitch. If you are a person who values diversity and who has a dream, come to Lakeland.

There is no better place to chase the American dream." There has never been a more spontaneous or eloquent endorsement of a community, and I hope you will have an opportunity to both congratulate Anu and thank him for his dedication to Lakeland and Polk County.

Congrats Anu!

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Posted by Josh Hallett

Adam Putnam at EMERGE - January 25, 2006

U.S. Congressman and Bartow native Adam Putnam spoke at today's EMERGE Lakeland event. Almost 80 EMERGE members and guests listened to Adam speak about the role for youth in government and issues that face the upcoming generations.

Adam Putnam at EMERGE Lakeland

Keep in context that Adam was speaking to a group of young professionals between the ages of 21 and 43. The notes below are mostly brief versions of his major themes. When I do have a direct quote it will be in "quotes".

He started off talking about the importance of the younger generation getting involved. He firmly believes that there is a place for young people in government, but many times the interest is lacking.

The War and the Global Population Trends

The majority of issues that are upcoming are not Democratic or Republican, they are generational. "We don't send old people to wars. The average soldier is 2 years out of high school"

Every major issue we're facing will impact this generation for a quite a while. He believes that the war on terrorism will take quite a few chapters in our history, much like the Cold War.

Another issue we need to keep in context is the demographic make-up of many foreign nations. In some Middle Eastern nations 50 percent of the population is under the age of 25. Think about the perceptions you had as a teenager. The global population is coming of age.

Healthcare and Social Security

Healthcare is another issue that the youth need to be aware of. We're paying for somebody elses retirement. At this point there are 3.5 people paying for each person's medicare/social security. When the program began it was 40 to 1. It will soon be 2 to 1. Something will need to be done.

The Power of the AARP

Who influences policy? How do they do it? The most powerful interest group is the AARP. Seniors vote, people under 30 don't vote. When he first ran for office he figured that the youth would vote for him and the seniors wouldn't because of his age. It was the exact opposite. The youth just don't vote. The seniors, however, were willing to accpet youth because when they were 17 and 18 they were changing the world, in World War II.

The Need for New Leaders

Adam referenced the recent death of George Harris. "People need to remember George Harris wasn't always 71. When he was our age he was building a bank, but, while he was doing that he was supporting the local community." Who represents the next generation of local leaders? Who will make sure organizations like the United Way and Lakeland Chamber will continue to help the community?

Growth in Polk County

For the longest time growth was not our problem, it was Tampa's or Orlando's. Now it is our problem. Yes growth does creates opportunities, but we need to plan accordingly. We're very quickly outgrowing our infrastructure in areas of the county, specifically the Four Corners area. The people that live in that area do not associate themselves with Polk County, but they live here and utilize our resources.

Technology Issues

It's a delicate balance, the same tool that can enhance the education of a child can also expose them to threats never though of before. (Adam is very involved on a number of technology related committees)

"Half the members of congress probaly couldn't turn on a laptop if their life depended on it. But everybody has their own skill-sets. Just because you can't use a computer doesn't mean you can't be a good leader."

The floor then opened up for questions:

Q. Where can people go to get unbiased information?

A. Media has become diverse, which he feels is a good thing. It's not necessarily bad when you have a conservative publication and a liberal publication, because you at least know where the bias it. Years ago you had many large cities with two newspapers, usually one conservative and one liberal. Contrast this with a decade or two ago when all you had was the three major networks.

Q. Who are you supporting for majority leader?

A. Adam is supporting Roy Blunt from Missouri.

Q. What about growth in the Four Corners?

A. The Posner development (formerly Circus World/Boardwalk & Baseball) is going to be huge, many people just don't realize how big it's going to be. We're talking a whole city. Adam thinks that US 27 in the Four Corners area is a tragedy. He longs for the days of orange groves along the corridor. In some Florida counties, such as Osceola, the local government is buying large tracts of land. Although the cost of the land is high now they realize it will be cheaper in the long run rather then having to build and support infrastructure on it.

Look at what is happening in Brandon. They're trying to create a 'Main Street' but it's just not happening.

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Posted by Josh Hallett

Enjoying the NYC Transit Strike - January 14, 2006

Just before Christmas, my husband Anu and I took a three day trip to New York City. And as our luck would have it, we arrived the day of the transit strike began and left the day it ended.

Did it affect our mobility? Not really other than it affected our service for breakfast (the workers could not get into the city to report for work!) It was mind boggling to realize how hard it becomes to move around with no transportation. The cab drivers definitely had a monopoly on the situation. They could charge just about anything.

How did this affect our trip? Very little. We had a great time. We stayed in a wonderful place that overlooked Times Square. We walked for miles and miles. There was an arts festival in Bryant Park that was simply magnificent. The booths were decorated in lights, garland, and wreaths. People were walking in their coats, gloves, and hats admiring all of the crafts while sipping hot chocolate. Something that we enjoyed immensely.

We also ate at an incredible French restaurant called Un, Deux, Trois. The great thing about the city is that there are a million of these types of café restaurants and they serve the most authentic food. It truly is an experience in itself.

Of course, we took in a Broadway show as well. Our choice was ‘The Producers’. We laughed so hard. I do not know how these guys keep a straight face. It was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time.

Our trip was everything we had hoped for: fun, relaxing, and entertaining. If you get a chance, Christmas time is a wonderful time to be in New York City. It is such a revitalizing city. I might recommend, though, not to go when there is a transit strike. It limits your mobility.

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Posted by psaxena

Adam Putnam Event - January 6, 2006

We've been able to confirm a date with Adam Putnam! Adam will join us for lunch on Wednesday, Jan 18th at the Polk Museum of Art from 11:30 till 1:00.

You can register online.

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Posted by Josh Hallett

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