MANATEE -- Speakers praised and encouraged Manatee County leaders Tuesday during a work session at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, saying they have made many correct calls and the high quality of life here reflects it.
"Let's be bold!" said Michael Maxwell, managing partner for a Miami real estate development firm and team leader on the Urban Land Institute report issued in March on the best ways for the county to grow.
One example the report cited was the county's public-private partnership, which has submitted a bid to play host to the 2017 international rowing championships at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota.
"This is your chance to do it!" Maxwell told a panel comprised of about 20 officials gathered for an update of the report.
It focused on future growth planning that could preserve Manatee's lush quality of life.
"You guys have been doing a good job," said Sara Hand, co-founder of BarCamp Sarasota-Bradenton, an organization dedicated to networking various industries.
Many visitors enjoy the new Bradenton Riverwalk, a linear park on the banks of the Manatee River, she
"You as a county and as a city, you should recognize the Riverwalk; you should say, 'We've done a great job' with it,'" Hand said.
The area is a destination for people, said Carol Probstfeld, president of State College of Florida, Sarasota-Manatee.
Every year, a variety of SCF events ranging from academic competitions to baseball tournaments and cultural events draw people here, she said.
One difficulty is a problem many communities would love to have: Insufficient hotel space or transportation options, Probstfeld said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.