EDC of Sarasota County Celebrates Local Achievements at 2023 Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon

EDC of Sarasota County leadership team members: Joe C. Hembree (2022 Board Chair), Devaney Iglesias (2024 Board Chair), Erin Silk (President and CEO) and Mark Irwin (2023 Board Chair)

Sarasota, Florida – September 15, 2023 – The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County held its 2023 Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon on September 14 at Michael’s on East. ‘Cultivating a Successful Future’ was the event’s theme, which provided an opportunity for the organization to celebrate and recognize outstanding leadership and innovation within the community.

Josh Ewen, EDC’s Vice President of Economic Development, presented the EDC’s annual report, featuring the organization’s successful initiatives throughout the year and its dedication to supporting the county’s growing business community. Josef Matosevic, President and CEO of Helios Technologies, presented the Clyde Nixon Leadership Award to Joe R. Hembree, who chaired the Committee of 100, which played a vital role in launching the EDC as the public-private partnership that is today.

After serving as a pilot in the U.S. Navy, Hembree began his real estate career in Sarasota. In 1985, he founded Hembree & Associates, a business that is instrumental in shaping Sarasota’s skyline. Throughout his career, Hembree worked on several landmark projects, such as City Center, The Southeast Bank Building, Ringling Tower, Kane Plaza, The Zenith Building and The Bold Building. He was also among the first to build and invest in Lakewood Ranch. Most recently, he partnered to build the county and medical examiner’s office on Fruitville road, which was the first ground-up development public/private partnership in Sarasota County. This will be vital for our community’s growth and development, meeting an urgent need and acting as a road map for future public/private partnerships.

“Joe R. Hembree’s contributions have been integral to our organization,” said Erin Silk, President and CEO of the EDC of Sarasota County. “He is a worthy ambassador, a community gem, and a man who deserves every accolade. Congratulations, Joe R. Hembree.”

The EDC of Sarasota County and Ringling College of Art and Design collaborated for the Ringling College Innovation by Creative Design Award. The award recognizes a business for an innovative product or service that demonstrates a creative design solution and has achieved market success. Entries were judged on the quality of their design process and evidence of market success and/or business impact.

Three award finalists – Tra Williams from Fleetforce, Irin Ruben from MamaZen and Charles Murray of PPi Technologies – were on hand to participate in a panel discussion for attendees. The winner of the Ringling College Innovation by Creative Design Award, presented by President of Ringling College of Art & Design’s Dr. Larry Thompson, went to Irin Ruben for MamaZen.

“The three Innovation by Creative Design Award Finalists are perfect examples of businesses that have thrived here in Sarasota County and have demonstrated a commitment to innovation, creativity, and excellence. Their success is well-deserved,” said Silk.

MamaZen is a suite of tools and programs specifically designed to promote mental and emotional well-being for mothers. Through a user-friendly mobile app, mothers can access a range of programs addressing issues such as breaking generational cycles, healing from past trauma, and overcoming anxiety, burnout, and guilt. MamaZen has created a safe, private, and nurturing space for mothers, empowering them to prioritize their well-being and contribute to a ripple effect of positivity within families and the community.

The event closed with a passing of the gavel to recognize outgoing board chair Mark Irwin and incoming board chair Devaney Iglesias.

“I have no doubt that our new chair will lead us in a way that we will all be grateful for her service,” said Irwin. “I have full confidence in her leadership abilities, and I hope that we can all support her, her vision, and be partners with her as she guides this organization forward.”

The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County
The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County is a successful public/private partnership focused on growing and diversifying the economy of Sarasota County, while enhancing the county’s unique natural and cultural environments. The EDC is the catalyst for creating a vibrant economy that is sustainable and globally competitive. A rich resource for entrepreneurs considering sites for new enterprise, as well as for existing business owners exploring relocation or expansion, the EDC is ready to serve. For more information about starting, expanding or relocating your business in Sarasota County, Florida, contact the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County at 941-309-1200.