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Florida Economic Development Council recognizes Babcock Ranch for innovation, persistence

03 November 2021 | Lisa Hall

BABCOCK RANCH, FL – The extreme challenges of economic development in the face of a worldwide pandemic prompted the Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC) to add a new category to their annual awards program.  The 2021 “Pivot and Persist” award, created to honor economic development initiatives that best adapted and pressed forward amidst the crisis, was awarded to Babcock Ranch at the FEDC’s annual conference earlier this month in Orlando.

Babcock Ranch was recognized for its efforts to ensure that the Edison Awards, a prestigious program honoring leading innovators and innovations from around the world, would not be forced to cancel all in-person events for its 2021 conference – the first year of a three-year commitment to hold the program in Southwest Florida.

In early March, with registrations for the April 22nd event severely lagging due to corporate restrictions on attendance and participation in indoor events due to COVID-19, the Edison Awards team had two options – take everything online, or find an outdoor venue to accommodate a hybrid live/digital edition of the 2021 Edison Awards. A visit to Babcock Ranch on March 6th sparked the idea of boosting attendance by making the “Meet the Innovators Forum” an outdoors Earth Day Celebration at the world’s first solar-powered town.

With just 45 days notice, Babock Ranch pivoted from the role of event sponsor to primary host of a hybrid live/live-streamed production reaching a global audience. Educational presentations and panel discussions, moderated by renowned PBS and CNN journalist Miles O’Brien, took place under the band shell for the outdoor audience as well as digital attendees around the globe. The Edison Awards replaced its traditional trade show exhibition hall with socially-distanced field trips showcasing key competitive advantages of Babcock Ranch. While pre-recorded segments streamed to the global live-stream audience, Babcock Ranch was able to do industry- specific deep-dive familiarization tours providing small group immersion experiences in targeted sectors of STEAM education, sustainable technologies and green energy.

The pivot to an outdoor event proved successful in boosting live participation. More than 200 key influencers made the trip to Babcock Ranch for the Earth Day event, including decision makers for targeted industry leaders such as Arthrex, Ampaire, Lanzatech, Black & Veatch, EcoSpears, Redwire and FutureLogic.

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