Explore a new career path lately? At a recent Project Innovation program presented by the Economic Development Council of Collier County (EDC) at the Naples Hilton, more than a hundred participants had their chance to dive into new job titles. At least, for a few hours.
Every registered guest received a different career field of study from program hosts, courtesy of team leaders from C’Mon (the soon-to-open Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples).
Some were given the role of a nutritionist, while others were given a creative path of an artist. More were blasted off into their job as an astronaut to experiment with gravitational forces.
Others, who were given the role of marine biologist, were invited to analyze petri dishes under microscopes to explore differences between biotic and abiotic materials found on local beaches.
“This started a couple of years ago in 2008 by the EDC as a way for the community to come together to talk about attracting world class talent, and creating a diverse economy in our community,” said Carol D’Amico, executive director of Project Innovation. “Tonight is ‘Innovation Night.’ We want to foster this innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in everyone. There’s young people here talking about their dreams. They are the economy of our future.”
Joyce Fletcher, of the Naples League of Women’s Voters, agreed with D’Amico. As a designated astronaut for the evening, Fletcher represented her organization well, minus any gravity sickness.
“The League is a strong endorser of Project Innovation, and I’m a member of the board,” she said. “They (Project Innovation) are bringing a lot of organizations here to make Naples a preeminent first class place to live and work in.”
“Onward and upward,” chimed in Bob Mulhere, of Mulhere and Associates of his thoughts on the evening, noting the positive highlights presented regarding development of the Golisano Children’s Museum. “I think the museum is great. It’s fun and educational for children, and a great asset to the community.”
According to information from Project Innovation, the group’s goal is a grass roots process of community engagement to create a shared vision that will result in a stronger economy for Collier County. Through the Project Innovation process, Collier County created a declaration for its community or as it is referred to, the declaration for the place we call home. This declaration states that Collier County is a diverse community, recognized worldwide for its innovative spirit, its vibrant economy and its outstanding quality of life. Six drivers provide the framework for identifying goals and priority projects that will be supported by the community. The drivers are Quality of Place, Innovation, Business Climate, Governance, Infrastructure and Talent.
The initial work of Project Innovation brought the community together in a variety of ways that included Community of Innovation - town-hall type meetings that included live polling of the audience and experts that could help frame the discussion on best practices.
Esteemed guests of honor included Abby Dagher, an aspiring filmmaker, who knows where her career path is going, even as a student in middle school. Dagher was surprised by an invitation from a Naples-based filmmaker in the audience to star in an upcoming production project, aptly named, “Naples, A Love Story.” Dagher smiled, and said “yes” to the project.
Katie Price and Kyle McDonald shared their science projects with the audience. Both garnered science and invention awards for their ideas, and credited the Invention Convention in Lee and Collier counties for their inspiration.
Proposing another improved computer system to Subway restaurants to streamline sales and ordering, also landed college student Onur Haytec on stage as a Project Innovation Early Stage Entrepreneur speaker for the evening. Haytec emphasized the essential standards he is looking for in hiring talent for his company’s future success.
Event co-host Tyler Kremkan also fielded questions from guests in the audience to young entrepreneurs sitting on stage.
“For me, the best part is being able to share what we know with Collier County,” said the 13-year-old homeschooler. Kremkan can also be spotted in “Curious Kids,” on WGCU television, along with students from Lee and Collier County, in collaboration with the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples.
“We’re already planning for our next pillar, which is Quality of Place, on March 16. And currently, there are 76 organizations that have endorsed this, and we’re always looking for more,” D’Amico said.