Imagine This!

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how the “creatives” may be our next big business sector, so this month we decided to examine that strange and exhilarating breed of entrepreneur who uses design and new technology to build innovative products and services.

We discovered we have companies right here in Sarasota and Manatee that are making award-winning electric bikes for a global market, animated film spots that have landed on Broadway and digital animation for national pharmaceutical TV commercials. Another company makes amazing architectural structures in glass and steel that can be found, on a small scale, in Sarasota at G.WIZ, and on a grander stage in Las Vegas in the spectacular facades, walls and canopies of the new MGM CityCenter as well as at a huge retail center in China.

Almost every one of these company’s CEOs mentioned what a treasure we have in Ringling College of Art and Design. For some, it was the reason they decided to do business here. This month, the college presents its 2010 Sarasota International Design Summit. The theme of the event, which runs Feb. 4-6, is Design + Business, and national experts (read our Q & A with speaker Marty Neumeier, page 10) will explain how design will spark business and economic success in the coming decade. Last month, the brand-new Patterson Foundation, with more than $200 million in assets, announced that it will partner with Ringling to explore the field of digital imagery. Ringling also launched its new filmmaking laboratory program last month, which will bring celebrated film directors, actors and producers to Sarasota.

A January profile of Ringling president Larry Thompson in our sister publication, Sarasota Magazine, was headlined, “Can Larry Thompson Save Sarasota?” Maybe so, says PowerPoint developer and entrepreneur Rob Campbell of Sarasota, who has worked with the über-creative Steve Jobs. In an interview on page 32, Campbell declares, “The only real world-class [economic] asset we have is Ringling College. That would be the kernel of our economic development.”

“Every business will tell you they are clamoring for creative people,” Thompson says in the Sarasota Magazine profile. “We could be known as the creative coast, not just the cultural coast. I’d love it if creative thinking became an ethos of this community.” Imagine that!

 

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