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Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Shining Stars: Lakewood Ranch and LAI Suncoast!

LAI inductees with Craig
photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
On Thursday, April 25, the Lambda Alpha International (LAI) Suncoast Chapter underdevelopment hosted its second official event at Grove Restaurant located in one of Lakewood Ranch's (LWR) three town centers. LAI VP Craig Binning traveled from Toronto to attend the meeting, educate on the value of LAI membership, and induct four new members. 

Since 2018 LWR consistently ranks the top performing multi-generational community in the nation; thus, LWC was a perfect location for the LAI Suncoast meeting.

About LAI

LAI is the honorary global network for thought leaders 
in all fields related to the preservation and sustainable development of land.

LAI is a growing network of chapters in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia. Each chapter offers a wide variety of programs with industry leaders, discussion forums, community service projects and networking events.

Membership is highly selective through a nomination process initiated by an LAI member. Nominees for LAI membership must demonstrate ten or more years of experience in their fields, professional distinction, and outstanding contributions to the community in their field of endeavor.

LAI is committed to excellence and high professional standards to make a difference. A value to members is knowing you are someone who helped make that difference.

LAI Suncoast History
In November 2023, LAI President Kathy King traveled from Los Angeles and LAI Past President, LAI Fellow, and New Chapter Development Chair Steven R Gragg from El Paso, Texas to support the underdevelopment chapter. Over their three-day Sarasota visit, a total of 13 new LAI members were inducted with several in individual ceremonies.

New LAI member John McCarthy hosted
Kathy & Steve at Spanish Point Preserve.
pictured left to right: Mary Dougherty, 
John, Kathy and Steve.
photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
The impressive November 28 inaugural LAI Suncoast event hosted at the Nathan Benderson Park Finish Tower event facility was attended by 40-plus LAI members as well as prospective new members. As the event keynote speaker, MOTE Marine CEO Dr. David Crosby shared MOTE Marine's history, dynamic impact, and the status of the MOTE Aquarium under construction. The event facility overlooked the MOTE Aquarium construction site.

The Holly Elmore Images (HEI) album, LAI Suncoast Event, showcases the November 28 event while the LAI Suncoast Tours, Meetings, and Inductions album chronicles the plethora of activities during Steve and Kathy's three-day Sarasota visit. 

For additional LAI Suncoast history, visit The IMPACT article, The Power of LAI Comes to Florida, for a recap of the chapter-development history, including an overview of the February 2023 Coastal Water Quality: challenges, solutions, and economic impact global webinar; LAI Suncoast members Dave Tomasko, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Executive Director, Jon Thaxton, Gulf Coast Community Foundation SVP Community Investment, Christine Johnson, Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast President, and Sandy Gilbert, Solutions to Avoid Red Tide Chair, were the esteemed webinar panelists.

Lakewood Ranch*
LWR SVP Laura Cole gave a superb keynote presentation at the April 25 LAI Suncoast evening event on Lakewood Ranch: Past, Present, and Future. Per Laura's PPT presentation, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch (SMR) is the parent company of Lakewood Ranch, a 33,000+ acre master-planned community located in Manatee and Sarasota Counties in Southwest Florida.

Laura at the podium
photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
Assembled in the early 1900's for lumber and resin by John Schroeder, SMR was purchased in 1922 by the Uihlein Family, original owners of Schlitz Brewing Company, and used for small-scale agriculture and hunting into the 1960's. In the 1970's and 80's, land use extended to shell mining, cattle ranching, and citrus farming. From 2008 - 2015, SMR was named one of Tropicana's top citrus growers based on fruit and load quality and quantity.

Even with the 1986 completion of the I-75 Tampa to Naples extension, SMR was viewed too far out for  long-range development purposes; city planners began targeting uses for SMR as an airport, landfill, and/or sewer plant. Rather than let short-sighted city planners decide upon their land's fate, SMR developed their own vision that capitalized on the nearby I-75 four exits. Via its proximity to I-75, LWR was destined to serve as a connector between the Tampa Bay Area and Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Within the SMR Masterplan, lifestyle is the major focus with three cornerstones: environmental stewardship, water conservation, and financial strength and stability. Integral to the SMR Masterplan was maintaining SMR operations on the yet-to-be-developed land. Rather than retain it for revenue-generating purposes, SMR sold the land when development was complete.

Designed as a mixed-use, multi-generational, primary home community, the SMR visionary development is a huge success, and since 2018 is consistently ranked the top performing multi-generational community in the nation. Within the development, 40% of the land is dedicated to open space with parks and trails forming the connective tissue of the master plan.

In February 1994, LWR segued as the consumer-facing name for SMR. 

LWR at a Glance:

  • LWR Aerial View
    photo courtesy of LWR
    67 Residential Villages/Neighborhoods
    • Single Family, Condos, Active Adult & Age Restricted + Rental & Assisting Living
  • 29,187 Households
    • For-Sale & Rent
  • 70,820 Population
    • Based on Occupied Rental For-Sale & Rental
  • 49 Average Age
  • $142K Average Household Income
    • Median is $118k
  • 75% College Educated
    • 20% With Advanced Degrees
  • 5 Business Parks + 3 Town Centers (6M sqft)
    LWR Town Center Aerial View
    photo courtesy of LWR
    • 2,885 Businesses
    • 20,076 Employees
  • Education
    • 8 Public Schools (A-Rated)
    • 6 Private Schools (K-12)
    • 12 Pre-schools
    • 10 Colleges & Universities
  • Medical
    • Lakewood Ranch Medical Center
    • LECOM Medical Schools
  • Recreation & Civic
    • 150 Miles of Trails & Parks
    • Parks & Recreation Program
    • Premier Sports Campus
    • Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club
    • Sarasota Polo Club
    • Community Activities Corporation
    • LWR Community Fund
With 48,849 total residential units (for-sale and rental) 60% occupied, LWR is 60% through the build out of the residential program. The 2,885 businesses and 20,076 employed individuals constitute LWR as the largest job center in the region. LWR boasts nearly 6 million square feet of commercial, mixed-use space via its five business parks and three town centers. In the next decade, LWR's population is projected to exceed 115,000.

When Laura completed with her presentation, Ei Advisor and LAI Suncoast member Steve Suau gave an overview of the impressive sewer treatment plant and wetlands management projects in place at LWR.

LWR is a shining star for Sarasota and Manatee Counties!

* the LWR-section was extracted from Laura's presentation, with some copy verbatim. 

LAI Suncoast Induction Ceremony
After Laura, Craig took the podium to educate on the value of LAI membership to individuals and the community. Midway in his presentation, Craig invited LAI Chicago Chapter member John Lyons to share how LAI membership benefits him professionally; John traveled from his winter home in Naples to attend the meeting.

Craig with Jim after induction
photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
With his presentation complete, Craig formally inducted Jay Brady, Sylwia Majewski, Steve Majewski, and Jim Paulmann as LAI At-Large Members and future LAI Suncoast Chapter members, if and when the chapter is chartered.

Post meeting, the attendees enjoyed a reception sponsored by LAI New Chapter Development.

In the afternoon, prior to the evening event, Ei Founder & CEO and LAI At-Large member, Holly Elmore treated Craig to a short version of her well known Holly's SRQ Tour of the barrier islands off of Sarasota. During the reception, Laura requested to join a Holly's SRQ Tour - the answer was a BIG YES!!!

The HEI album, LAI Suncoast 04-25-24 Event, chronicles the meeting as well as Craig on his Holly's SRQ Tour.

Chapter Development
As of this article's publishing, LAI Suncoast boasts 21 members with many promising prospects. Two prospects who could not attend the April meeting registered for the Thursday, June 13 5:30 pm LAI Suncoast event; the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF) will host and sponsor the meeting, and LAI Suncoast member Jon Thaxton, GCCF SVP Community Investment, will speak on Affordable Housing: there are simple solutions.

With strong LAI Global support, the LAI Suncoast executive team will shift gears over the summer to address the administrative tasks involved within the chapter-charter process. The goal is to formally charter the LAI Suncoast Chapter at the 2024 LAI Land Economics Gathering hosted in Phoenix, AZ October 16 - 18.

In addition to Lakewood Ranch, LAI Suncoast is a shining star within Sarasota and Manatee Counties.


Tax-deductible donations in any amount are greatly appreciated to support Ei's important work. 


About Elemental Impact:
Elemental Impact (Ei) is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2010 as the home to the Zero Waste Zones, the forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost. In June 2017, Ei announced the Era of Recycling Refinement was Mission Accomplished and entered the Era of Regeneration. Current focus areas include Nature PrevailsSoil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, and Water Use | Toxicity.

The Regeneration in ACTION Magazine articles, From Organic Certification to Regenerative Agriculture to Rewilding Landscapes: an evolution towards soil integrity and SOIL & WATER: the foundation of life, published to explain and substantiate the importance of Ei’s rewilding urban landscapes work within the Nature Prevails focus area. What We Eat Matters is an emerging platform that intertwines within the three focus areas.

The Holly Elmore Images Rewilding Urban Landscapes-album folder documents two active pilots: the Native-Plant Landscape Pilot and the Backyard Permaculture-Oriented Pilot.

To work with industry leaders to create best regenerative operating practices where the entire value-chain benefits, including corporate bottom lines, communities, and the environment. Through education and collaboration, establish best practices as standard practices.

Ei’s tagline – Regeneration in ACTION – is the foundation for Ei endeavors.

The following mantra is at the core of Ei work:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

For additional information, contact Holly Elmore at 404-510-9336 |