By Wendy Sarubbi | May 29, 2012 1:24 pm

Business and community leaders gathered at the UCF College of Medicine May 16 and pledged that public-private partnerships must thrive to develop Central Florida’s economy during these tough economic times.

The East Orlando Chamber of Commerce presented “BOLDLY Building Our Future,” an event that included a panel discussion on strategic steps the community can take to build its economic base, increase jobs and improve educational opportunities.

Dr. Deborah German, UCF vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the College of Medicine, welcomed several hundred leaders to “your medical school,” noting that the community helped create the college through activism, donations and volunteerism. Public-private partnerships, like the kind that created the medical school and the growing medical city at Lake Nona “require a new way of thinking,” she said. “It’s a way of thinking that seeks collaboration before competition, synergy before siloes and recognizes that we have much more in common than we have differences.”

Panelists emphasized that Central Florida must be innovative in its approach, especially in light of budget cuts in areas such as higher education and research. The panelists included Randolph Berridge, president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council; Dr. Kathleen Plinske, provost of Valencia College’s Osceola Campus and Valencia at Lake Nona High School; Rick Weddle, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission; and Edward Schons, director of UCF’s Office of Economic Development.

Dr. Plinske, talked of Valencia’s efforts to create new training programs in health care and other areas to better serve the employment needs of local businesses. Dr. Plinske has been with Valencia for about a year and earlier at McHenry County College, a community college in the suburbs of Chicago. She called the public-private partnerships in Central Florida “amazingly uncommon and amazingly powerful.”

Mr. Berridge challenged the audience to view Lake Nona’s medical city as inspiration for partnerships in the future. “Let’s figure out how to be better engaged with this team,” he said.

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