July has been kind to this region with two top-tier projects winning statewide awards from the Florida chapter of the American Planning Association.
Realize Bradenton earned plaudits as the Outstanding Public Interest Group of the Year while Nathan Benderson Park won the Florida Award for Excellence in Project Planning.
Realize Bradenton's mission since its creation after a public visioning process is to boost the community's vitality and prosperity via economic development and cultural tourism.
The crown jewel is the nonprofit's partnership with the Downtown Development Authority in the design and construction of now wildly popular Riverwalk.
With the Bradenton Blues Festival, ArtSlam and other crowd-pleasing events, the organization has established a sterling reputation around the state -- the envy of other communities.
Nathan Benderson Park is well on its way to becoming an international playground for rowing competitions.
Should Manatee and Sarasota county officials and private interests secure the rights to stage the 2017 World Rowing Championships -- the key presentation occurred just days ago in Switzerland -- the park's stature will soar.
The audience from that event alone is projected at 130 million worldwide watching on television and the Internet.
These two awards showcase the aggressive forward-thinking that has come to mark our two-county community. Both are well deserved.