Two new board members are joining the new chair, vice-chair and secretary/treasurer to work with the Central Florida Development Council as it continues its mission to attract new industries to the area and help ones already here grow.
Polk State College President Angela Garcia Falconetti became chair of the CFDC’s board of directors at its annual meeting. Joining her in leadership positions are vice-chair Bart Allen and secretary/treasurer Maggie Mariucci. Rick Garcia and David Shepp have joined the board as new members.
“We welcome the enthusiasm and energy our new officers and board members bring to the board of directors,” said CFDC President & CEO Sean Malott. “Their keen insights in their individual fields, as well as their ability to see the big picture in Polk County and Central Florida, will serve us well as we transition into a new normal.”
While welcoming new members, the CFDC and its board also said farewell to Bud Strang of Six/Ten, who rotated off the board. He served as chair from 2015-2016.
“We are very fortunate to have had Bud and the Six/Ten organization in a leadership position at the CFDC,” said Todd Dantzler, who served as chair from 2018-2019. “His quiet-confidence leadership approach has been instrumental as we transitioned into a private organization. He will be missed on a day-to-day basis, but we appreciate all he has done for us and for the economic engine that is Polk. We look forward to Bud continuing to be an integral part of the CFDC and its mission of economic development in Polk County and our region.”
Bart Allen is a lawyer specializing in land use and environmental law at Peterson & Myers in Lakeland. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Auburn University, then practiced engineering for five years as an environmental consultant in Atlanta before attending the Cumberland School of Law, where he earned his law degree.
“Polk County is growing and businesses are finding great success within our community. The CFDC and its partners are attracting top companies to the area that will continue to propel our economic prosperity,” Allen said. “It is a pleasure to serve to alongside great leadership and see Polk grow.”
Maggie Mariucci is assistant vice president of university relations at Florida Polytechnic University. Before that, she served as director of government affairs and community relations at the University of South Florida Polytechnic and vice president of public affairs for the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce. She earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Florida.
“Florida Poly was created with a very specific mission and that is to be a catalyst for economic development in our state. This is why it is extremely important for the university to have a seat at this table and play a key role in our county’s economic growth,” Mariucci said. “It is an honor to be a part of the board and be that essential voice for the university as we work to fulfill our mission.”
Rick Garcia started his own company, Gulf Coast Avionics, in 1984 after enlisting in the U.S. Air Force and finding a passion for planes. When he saw a similar need to service fixed-wing and rotary aircraft on the West Coast, he started Pacific Coast Avionics in 1991. He has served as chairman of the board of the Aerospace Center for Excellence at Sun ’n’ Fun Fly-In.
Serving on the CFDC board is important to him. “My company is an aviation company, and the CFDC has taken aviation as a target industry to help it grow in Polk County. I want to help in any way I can to help aviation grow.”
Beyond his business, he appreciates the role the CFDC plays in the county. “It helps all businesses grow and it attracts businesses to Polk County.”
David Shepp is a lobbyist at The Southern Group. Before that, he was a principal at Florida Strategic Group. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Florida State University.
He said it is an honor to join the board and provide support. “We have long admired the CFDC’s sterling track record as a dynamic, collaborative force focused on growth and prosperity in Polk County,” Shepp said. “Collaboration is in our DNA at The Southern Group. It is how we are able to succeed in the political realm for our clients. Polk County is also our home, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to see our community thrive.”
The CFDC helps make Polk County a better place to work and live, he said. “Being situated between two large international, metropolitan cities could make it difficult for a community to grow. However, the CFDC has succeeded, for the past 35 years, in shining a spotlight on the vast resources available in Polk County that business owners are seeking. By attracting and retaining high-wage, high-skill jobs, the CFDC continues to raise the standard of living for all of Polk County through improved education, infrastructure and employment opportunities.”
Other Board Members
- Gene Conrad of Lakeland Linder International Airport
- Todd Dantzler of SVN Saunders Ralston Dantzler
- Pete Frantzis of Cyndeo Wealth Partners
- Randy Knapp of RLK Real Estate & Development
- Commissioner George Lindsey, representing the Board of County Commissioners
- Orathai Northern of Polk State College
- Jake Polumbo of Two Blue Aces, immediate past chair
- Emery Smith of Ben Hill Griffin Inc.
- Deena Ware from the city of Winter Haven
- Drew Wilcox of Nucor Steel Florida