Hope it helps and have a happy Thanksgiving!
As seen on Bradenton Herald Website:
LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch is rapidly becoming a world renowned sports destination, and several Manatee and state-wide sports officials say the East Manatee community may become a premier magnet for sports tourism.
Aided by the attention brought to the area by IMG’s Sports Training Academy in Bradenton and the Florida World Aquatic Center at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch can host national and international events in soccer, football, golf, lacrosse, cross country, polo and non-mainstream sports like Ultimate Frisbee, all of which
equate to millions of dollars spent in the sports tourism industry.
During the past 18 months, Lakewood Ranch has hosted national and international events at its $2.5 million, 22-soccer field facility sitting on 75 acres near the intersection of State Road 70 and Lorraine Road. Officials with Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the developer of Lakewood Ranch, say the events have brought more than 100,000 visitors this year to the Manatee-Sarasota area and generated $65 million in economic impact.
Opened in April 2011, The Premier Sports Campus at 5895 Post Blvd., Lakewood Ranch, has already been used by U.S. Soccer, the national governing body of soccer, Major League Soccer’s DC United and several youth and minor sport organizations. When U.S. Soccer returns to the campus this month for a week-long showcase, it will be aired on FoxSoccer, a specialty channel owned by Fox Entertainment.
If things go as planned, similar events scheduled at the campus, as well as the Sarasota Polo fields, will be broadcast to millions around the globe.
“We’ve been receiving interest from the NCAA and other college divisions, and because we will have a stadium, those events will be televised as well,” said Tim Mulqueen, director of sports at Lakewood Ranch.
Officials at SMR are planning to make improvements to accommodate large events that will solidify the sports campus as an international, multi-use facility for training and sports events.
For the past year, Sarasota-based GoodSports Enterprises LLC and SMR have been in talks about building a 55,000-square-foot indoor multi-use facility and 115-room hotel with dormitory-style lodging at Lakewood Ranch. The indoor facility could be used for basketball, volleyball, martial arts, cheerleading, gymnastics and other indoor events. SMR officials also say additions to The Premier Sports campus will include permanent bathrooms, concession areas, stadium seating, a locker room facility, indoor strength and conditioning training facility, outdoor track and a scoreboard.
With these changes, sports officials around the state say Lakewood Ranch can become a hub for sports.
“The sports complex, for lack of a better word, was a game changer in terms of Florida, the Southwest Coast and the Manatee-Sarasota area,” said Joe Picket, Manatee’s sports commissioner. “It has the potential, and will be an epicenter going forward.”
“Those multi-use fields can be used for a variety of things,” said Nick Gandy, director of communications for the Florida Sports Foundation, the official sports promotion and development organization for Florida. “There’s a lot of opportunity for this complex. There is a big demand for those kind of facilities.”
That demand includes Lakewood Ranch becoming an offseason training destination for college and professional athletes.
A Canadian Football League team has inquired about using the facility, and there have been discussions between SMR and Pirate City, the spring training complex for the Pittsburgh Pirates, about housing visiting athletes at the Bradenton complex for events in Lakewood Ranch. In turn, there is potential for baseball players to use the campus for performance training.
“It definitely has huge potential, not just attracting events and visitors to the area,” said Trevor Gooby, senior director of Florida Operations for the Pittsburgh Pirates. “It’s a great asset and complements what we have here with the Pirates. It makes us a destination that stands out among other counties.”
This past February, the campus was used to train several college football stars in preparation for NFL combines, an evaluation of draft prospects. Mike Gough, owner of Lakewood Ranch’s Athletic Edge, an 8,500-square-foot athletic facility on Main Street, trained more than two dozen college athletes, including 15 who were either drafted or signed as free agents. Gough also trains pro baseball players, pro golfers and even 10-year old tennis prodigies at his facility and the sports campus.
“With the addition of more housing in the area, we’ll see professional and national teams use our facility as a national training center,” Mulqueen said.
Though SMR will not shy away from working with professional markets, SMR does not want to compete with facilities like IMG in Bradenton, which is regarded as one of the top athletic training facilities in the world, or the Olympic-style rowing facility in Sarasota, which is the first 2,000-meter course in the U.S. capable of hosting national and world championships as approved by FISA, the international rowing federation.
Instead, the campus will primarily cater to local and amateur events that will bring families to the area.
“That will spur the relationship into the tourism, the hospitality, and the restaurant business,” said Rex Jensen, president and chief executive officer of SMR.
Unable to compete with hotels near the area’s beaches, sports events have given Lakewood Ranch hotels a new source of customers. This past Labor Day weekend, more than 19,000 people converged on Lakewood Ranch for a youth soccer tournament at the campus that resulted in a $13 million economic impact.
“Our entire business mix has changed from a majority of corporate, to corporate, leisure and sports,” said Rob Ferguson, director of sales for the Holiday Inn and Fairfield Inn in Lakewood Ranch. “Our weekends have done so much better since we’re not at the beach. We probably can attribute 5 to 10 percent of our occupancy to the sports campus alone. It’s not only benefiting owners, but employees because they’re getting more hours.”
The sports industry is better shielded from the still-weak economy, industry experts say.
“Sports tourism has shown it remains strong when other tourism numbers have declined or fallen flat,” Gandy said. “With an indoor facility, people from up north would want to come down and get away. They might want to come down early and have some vacation time.”
“It’s going to start, No. 1, with additional business opportunities,” Picket said. “Businesses are starting to purchase leases and training space. You’ll see other sports and camps come around and they will buy real estate in the area. Then we’ll see a housing boom. It will help sell residential and commercial in that area.”
Picket’s statement is backed by a recent analysis by the Manatee Economic Development Corp., which shows the sports performance industry has a large impact on county employment.
The sports industry in Manatee employs at least 1,969 workers through 156 business establishments, which include manufacturing, sports instruction, sports promotion, sporting good stores and spectator sports. According to the analysis, for every job added in sports performance, at least another 1.5 are created in different industries that in some way benefit. That multiplier peaks at spectator sports, which creates an additional 1.71 jobs for every position.
The potential to spread Lakewood Ranch marketability as a sports destination will only be amplified with its golf offerings. Lakewood Ranch is home to championship courses and has hosted PGA and LPGA events.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort is rated one of the best in the world and has hosted several U.S. Open regional qualifiers and this year, co-hosted the Florida Open.
The West Florida Golf Tour, a development tour, frequently uses courses in Lakewood Ranch. During its two years of existence, several PGA Tour winners have played on the tour.
“It’s a great area,” said Christian Bartolacci, West Florida Golf Tour director. “This area is ready to boom and golf is the next best thing. It’s only a matter of time.”
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext.7049.
Register for the event here.
Tom and Karen Niederer are a microcosm of the growing diversity of the Sarasota-Bradenton area. Karen is originally from the UK and Tom is originally from Switzerland. They lived in Austria for many years and now they live in Bradenton, FL.
Being experts on the Alpine countries of Europe – Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria – they decided to share the wonderful sites and experiences of this area with Americans. They established a travel agency, Alpentouristik Travel, in 2009. Their office is in Bradenton, on Lena Road, and they serve the entire Sarasota-Bradenton area.
Some of the tours they offer include a Three Countries Tour (Munich, Krimml Waterfalls, Berchtesgaden, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Venice and more) a European Splendor Tour (Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and a Historical Highlights Tour (Germany and Austria). These tours are in May and June. Of course, no Alpine travel agency would be complete without a ski tour! Alpentouristik offers a trip to Saalbach-Hinterglemm, in the Austrian Alps, where visitors can find 124 miles of downhill slopes, 55 lifts, night skiing and lively nightlife in the village. This trip is offered in March.
Alpentouristik Travel also offers tours through Central Europe and individually-tailored vacations in Austria.
Karen and Tom’s expertise comes from their 50 years of combined experience living and travelling through the Alpine countries of Europe. When choosing a destination for your next trip, you definitely want to consult with these experts on Alpine travel. They can be contacted via telephone at (941) 932-3144.
Please enjoy some photos of the sights of Central Europe.
From the Chillounge Night Website:
Chillounge Night provides a great night of entertainment and takes an active role in benefiting the community and a local charity. This year’s event will again benefit the Creative Clay and The Woodson Museum.
N. Straub Park will transform into a magnificent outdoor lounge. With chic, South Beach style lounge furniture, artistically arranged, creating a mood and vibe for a party that will have the feel of a glamorous mix and mingle for the hip and social crowd…..we are licensed to chill. It will again be a night to remember.
The Chillounge Night is the annual social gathering party you don’t want to miss!
Enter N. Straub Park and instantly be in the most unique party environment. Admission is $25* in advance and $35 at the gate. A limited number of VIP tickets will be available for $80*. The VIP section is a secured roped off area that entitles you to complimentary food from Treviso’s, our wonderful VIP Food Host, and complimentary drinks with full bar provided by our sponsors.
*(plus convenience charge)
Enjoy a great evening under the stars:
- Select exclusive food vendors and cash bars
- A great night of entertainment including multiple live bands
- Fashion Show produced by Brandi Kamenar Image Design Studio
- Daybed Parade presented by Phassion
- Fireworks Display presented by Gold & Diamond Source
- A colorful Brazilian Samba Parade
Advanced tickets: $25… buy now and enjoy preferred check-in
Chillounge Night is for guests 21 years old to enter.
The latest Department of State Visa Bulletin warns that a cut-off date for EB-5 Visas for Chinese citizens may have to be established. This is not surprising due to the overwhelming number of Chinese citizens who apply for the EB-5 Investor Visa. 70% of current applicants are Chinese.
Approximately 10,000 EB-5 Visas are allocated each year for investors from around the world. However, when the number of applicants from a particular country reaches a certain level, the Department of State establishes a cut-off date for that country. When this happens, applicants can submit their green card petitions, but an immigrant visa or green card will not be issued to the applicant until his or her place is reached on a waiting list.
Residents of countries that send many immigrants to America such as China, Mexico, India and the Philippines, often experience cut-off dates. In some cases, waiting times develop only for family sponsored green card applications and in other cases it is for employment based green card applications.
The EB-5 Investor Visa is awarded to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in a qualified, job-creating project in the United States. The funds must have been lawfully gained. To read more about the EB-5 Visa and other investor visas check out VisaAmerica.com.
On Wednesday, November 7th the Sarasota and Manatee Chambers of Commerce held the joint-chamber expo at the Manatee Convention Center in Palmetto. Representatives from dozens of local businesses attended and it was great to see the economic diversity and vitality of the area on display. Jaensch Immigration Law Firm shared a booth with Passport Health of Sarasota, they help us with immigration physicals. Our representatives at the expo, Michael Marquet and Cesar Gomez, met with business leaders from all over the area. They look forward to sharing ideas on ways to work together to enable Sarasota-Bradenton to continue to grow. They are happy to post information on this blog on behalf of businesses who want to share what they do with the immigrant community here.
Michael and Cesar were especially pleased to see that As Good As It Gets had a booth at the expo. We wrote about As Good As It Gets on this blog when it opened. We wish them all the best.
On Saturday and Sunday November 3rd and 4th, an entire street in downtown Sarasota was blocked off and covered in chalk! The Sarasota Chalk Festival has been going on for 3 years now and each year it gets better both in terms of the quality of the artists’ creations and the number of attendees. This year was no exception. Thousands of area residents crowded S. Pineapple Ave between S. Orange St and Ringling Blvd. Dozens of artists from around the world rendered incredible images on the street. Some spanned more than 40 ft square. The most creative images were the ones that were stretched so as to seem 3-dimensional when looked at it from a certain angle. With so much creativity on display it was no wonder that this year the Chalk Festival recorded record attendance!
Jaensch Immigration Law Firm is pleased to report that one of our employees volunteered at the Chalk Festival on Saturday. Before getting to work he had some time to take a few photos. Please enjoy.
A local tennis instructor has received approval to build 8 tennis courts on two acres of land on Cortez Rd in Bradenton, FL. Gabriel Ferrer plans on building 5 clay and 3 hard courts as well as a small office for support staff. The new courts would only be a mile and a half away from IMG Academy, one of the largest Tennis academies in the country. The new project would eventually lead to 10 new jobs.
Gabriel Ferrer is a tennis coach from Argentina. He taught at IMG for many years.
Mr. Ferrer can be contacted via email: email@example.com or via mobile phone: (941) 545-5729.
I was recently asked this question by a reporter from “Biz941”. Employers should definitely be aware of Deferred Action. It creates a path for those who previously could not work legally to join the labor force.
To review, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a new government policy announced by President Obama on June 15th, 2012 and enacted on August 15th, 2012. In essence the President announced that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will no longer pursue children of illegal immigrants who arrived in the US while minors as priority targets for deportation if they are granted Deferred Action. The executive order also created a path for people who meet the Deferred Action requirements to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and a Social Security Number.
This is important because it means that immigrants who previously could not work due to their legal status can now do so legally. This has the potential to widen the labor pool. But there still exists the potential for fraud. Some workers who are not legally employable may present a false Social Security number when applying for a job. It is illegal to hire anyone who does not have a valid Social Security number. Employers should be aware of this and understand that a person who has been granted Deferred Action will also have a valid Social Security number and is legally employable.
One way to test whether an individual is legally employable is by using E-Verify, the web-based government program that allows employers to verify the legal status of their prospective workers, in most cases immediately. The idea is that E-Verify will make it easier for employers to obey the law and hire legal workers.
But, there is a small error rate. Sometimes the information entered into E-Verify does not find a match in either the Department of Homeland Security’s or the Social Security Administration’s databases. That is why it is important for employers who use E-Verify to make sure they enter their prospective employees’ information correctly and that they notify their prospective employees immediately if E-Verify returns what’s called a Tentative Non-Confirmation (TNC). Understand that it is possible that an individual recently granted Deferred Action and a valid EAD and SSN will still produce a Tentative Non-Confirmation with the E-Verify system.
At this point E-Verify is voluntary for most Florida businesses. Florida state agencies and contractors are required to use the program.
From the USCIS:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reminds customers affected by Hurricane Sandy of certain U.S. immigration benefits or relief that may be available to them.
USCIS understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to maintain lawful immigration status or obtain certain other immigration benefits. Eligible individuals may request or apply for temporary relief measures, including:
- A change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
- Extension or re-parole of individuals previously granted parole by USCIS;
- Expedited adjudication of off-campus employment authorization applications for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
- Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications; and
- Assistance to Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when LPRs are stranded in places that do not have a local USCIS office.
For more information, visit the USCIS website.
USCIS continues issuing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals approvals. The turn-around time is about 2 months on average. When we applied for Deferred Action we also applied for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Being granted Deferred Action means that the EAD will be issued soon. Once the EAD is issued, the recipients can take their documents to the local Social Security office and apply for a number. Social Security numbers take about 7 to 10 days to be issued. The closest office is at 2001 Siesta Dr., Suite 301, Sarasota, FL 34239. The phone number is 1-800-772-1213. They are open Monday-Friday 8:30am to 3pm.
Good luck to all those who applied for Deferred Action.