Realize Bradenton to collect state planning honor

Herald Staff ReportJuly 16, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The American Planning Association, Florida Chapter, has honored Realize Bradenton with its "Outstanding Public Interest Group of the Year" award, which will be presented in Orlando in September at the APA Florida Annual Conference.

The award acknowledges Realize Bradenton's efforts to improve the vitality, prosperity and success of the Bradenton community.

"This award is recognition of our community's collective achievements for the Bradenton area and we're honored to accept it," said Judy Sedgeman, chairwoman of Realize Bradenton's board of trustees. "We recognize that partnerships are key components of the community planning process. Each group has a unique role to play in the development of a great community."

Realize Bradenton is a nonprofit organization that works to boost Bradenton's economic development, cultural tourism, and quality of life by creating partnerships with residents, business people, educational institutions, cultural partners, professional planners and city officials.

Bradenton Mayor Wayne

Poston said Realize Bradenton's commitment to strengthening and connecting Bradenton's social, physical and cultural assets has produced measurable positive results.

"Under Johnette Isham's leadership, Realize Bradenton has become the best planning and creative team in Florida," said Poston. "The events, promotions and partnerships developed by the organization have resulted in positive economic growth, visitor attraction, and a vibrant downtown. Southern Business & Development magazine recently showcased Bradenton in its feature on 'Ten Wonderful Small Town Central Business Districts in the South.' Thanks to Realize Bradenton and its many partners, we're moving ahead in leaps and bounds."

Realize Bradenton collaborative projects and events include the Bradenton Blues Festival, which made its debut in 2012; the Downtown Bradenton Farmers' Market; and dozens of arts and cultural events, including the annual ArtSlam, an outdoor arts and performance festival.

The organization partnered with Bradenton's Downtown Development Authority on the $6.2 million downtown Riverwalk project. Realize Bradenton is collaborating with the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, the University of South Florida, New College, and various other partners on a project to revitalize Bradenton's 14th Street district, which includes Village of the Arts.

"Realize Bradenton is the kind of community development organization that we all wish we had in our communities," said Kathie Ebaugh, principal planner for Lee County Department of Community Development. "It supports the efforts of the city's planning department by engaging the residents, business people, and visitors in community planning activities and public events. In doing so, Realize Bradenton improves the quality of life and livability of the city for all."

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