UNIVERSITY PARK -- Scott Anderson, a senior philanthropic adviser for Gulf Coast Community Foundation and a longtime Southwest Florida resident, is joining the fundraising effort for Nathan Benderson Park before the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
Anderson will be loaned on a part-time basis, beginning Aug. 17, to assist the Nathan Benderson Park Community Foundation in developing and implementing a major gifts program, while maintaining his duties at Gulf Coast.
The park's nonprofit foundation, headed by Joseph Barbetta, a former Sarasota County commissioner, has been trying to raise money from private donors and corporations for capital improvements to solidify its status as a world-class rowing facility.
Local officials recently asked the state Legislature
for upwards of $11 million in matching funds, but the request did not make it into the state budget.
Construction is set to begin in August of a $5 million, four-story finish tower that will house competition referees and event officials, and a media center with offices and meeting rooms for the Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center, the nonprofit that operates the 600-acre park. About $10 million more is needed to build a boathouse, which isn't mandatory for the upcoming rowing competitions and the Olympic Rowing Trials in 2016.
"We're always looking to bring in a strong capital funds person, and we're definitely thrilled to have Scott on board. He brings a wealth of knowledge about fundraising and contacts to us, and he truly does care," Barbetta said.
Anderson was a friend of Nathan Benderson, who founded the successful Sarasota development company. He shared the original vision of the park's potential with Benderson, visiting the site with him before it was built off Cattlemen Road near The Mall at University Town Center.
The park now boasts the distinction of being named Venue of the Year by the Florida Sports Foundation in 2015.
"From the outset, Scott saw that the park would not only yield enormous economic value to the Gulf Coast economy, but it would also enhance the quality of life for the entire Sarasota/Manatee community, the surrounding region, and the state," said Randy Benderson, chairman of the Nathan Benderson Community Park Foundation, and son of the late Nathan Benderson.
Anderson says the idea to provide his time and talent to the park was discussed long before the Legislature declined to provide the requested funding.
"Whatever the state did, it didn't make this decision possible or not. This isn't the first time I've been a loaned executive. I'm looking forward to it and I view it as fun, and I don't do anything unless I have fun," Anderson said.
Anderson joined the Gulf Coast Community Foundation in 2007 as its first gift planning officer, before becoming a senior adviser. His role involves working with community philanthropists and their families to create charitable gifts that benefit many local organizations.
More information about the Nathan Benderson Park Community Foundation is available at nbpfoundation.com.
Kathryn Moschella, East Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.