City of Port St. Lucie supports TCBS

PORT ST. LUCIE – The Port St. Lucie City Council voted unanimously to partner with Pharus Group, LLC. and DLF Media as hosts of the fourth annual Treasure Coast Business Summit. The Summit will be held at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center on May 11.

The Treasure Coast Business Summit is designed to combine current and relevant real-world information and resources with some of the nation’s best motivational speakers. It was created by a group of local business owners who banded together and combined their collective talents, reaching out to other business owners and managers throughout the Treasure Coast to help stimulate the economy by sharing ways to make their companies more profitable, operate efficiently and grow their businesses strong in a challenging economy.

This event is open to all business types and was created especially for small to mid-sized business owners / managers and entrepreneurs. The fundamentals of business and economic discussions will cross industry lines and prove to be extremely valuable for all in attendance.

In order to survive in the fast-paced world of small business, it’s necessary for business owners to come together as a single body, uniting their efforts to better understand and overcome the barriers to success that face us all.

At the Treasure Coast Business Summit, regional business and community leaders will meet to discuss the issues, obstacles and trends facing entrepreneurs today.

Ken Pruitt, former Senate president and current St. Lucie County property appraiser, will be the keynote speaker.

Other commitments include Douglas Muir, credit industry expert; Greta Schulz, CEO of Schulz Business SELLutions; Kevin Gillen, regional president for TD Bank’s Florida Market; and Michael Altshuler, a sales and marketing leader who will share his powerful, proven and profitable social media tips and tricks with one goal in mind: to help your business grow.

For more information regarding registration, sponsorship or tickets, visit or call 772-224-2898.

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Business Summit to benefit Boys & Girls Club

The Treasure Coast Business Summit will be held at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center on May 11.

The summit will feature local, state and national speakers. Breakout sessions and workshops will be offered. Proceeds of the event will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of St. Lucie County.

TCBS has been expanded to accommodate more than 100 vendors and sponsors. Former Senate President Ken Pruitt is the keynote speaker.

Sponsorship, vendor space and tickets are available at

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Business Summit coming to civic center

The fourth Annual Treasure Coast Business Summit returns to the Port St. Lucie Civic Center on May 11.

The event, sponsored by TD Bank will feature an exhibit hall and a variety of speakers. Ken Pruitt will be the keynote speaker. Pruitt served as president of the Florida Senate from 2006 to 2008 and is a 20-year veteran of state and local politics. He currently serves as the elected property appraiser in St. Lucie County.

The exhibit hall will showcase up to 120 business-to-business vendors, featuring a variety of business-related products and services. It’s an opportunity for business owners and managers to learn about what’s new and available in the area.

The event will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County.

For more information regarding registration, sponsorship or tickets, visit or call 772-224-2898.

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Vendors invited to display services

The 9th annual Treasure Coast Business Summit is coming to the Port St. Lucie Civic Center on May 25, 2017.   Reservations are being taken for vendors planning to display their products or services in the exhibition hall. Each vendor will be provided with one 8-foot display table and two chairs.  The company’s name will […]

Surviving tough economy

PORT ST. LUCIE — To survive in uncertain economic times, Treasure Coast businesses should partake in regional cooperation, consider self reinvention and look to others in similar industries for support, speakers at the annual Treasure Coast Business Summit said Friday.

Several economic development officials, high-profile businesses leaders and more than 80 local exhibitors attended the summit at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center on Friday.

“The message I want to give everyone today is the City of Port St. Lucie is open and we are business friendly,” said Port St. Lucie Mayor JoAnn Faiella. “We want to do everything in our power, today and in the future, for businesses to want to come here.”

Larry Pelton, president of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County, said that type of enthusiasm and optimism have helped the region grow into a research powerhouse.

“I have never worked in an area that’s more inviting and positive about bringing business,” Pelton said about the Treasure Coast. “In the last two years, our projects that we’ve closed in the county, including sustained amount of capital investments, exceeded Miami-Dade County.”

Local businesses networked in between the conference panel of business executives and community leaders who spoke throughout the afternoon.

“We have a presence on the Treasure Coast and we saw this as a way to get more exposure,” said Tom Klause, president of Jupiter-based A-1 Moving and Storage, who had a vendor booth at the event. “It’s a good way to get to know other businesses.”

Summit keynote speaker Frank T. Brogan, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, still owns a home in Port Salerno and led several local schools in Martin County before becoming the county’s schools superintendent. Brogan spoke about creating a greater connection between education and economic development.

“I want the cure for cancer to be found in the Sunshine State,” Brogan told the audience.

Brogan also spoke of how uncertain economic times have caused many Treasure Coast businesses to evolve and change strategies.

“No successful business looks like it did five years ago. Every business has had to reinvent itself, finding new ways to do old things,” Brogan said. “At the end of the recession, there’s going to be two places left. One of the quick and one for the dead. The ones who don’t reinvent themselves, sadly, will be in the category of the dead.”

During the CEO Forum portion, business leaders spoke about the challenges of thriving and moving forward in a difficult and uncertain economy.

Digital Domain Media Group, Inc. Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ed Lunsford said local community support is vital to his organization’s success.

“We could not have done this without the help of the City of Port St. Lucie,” Lunsford said, speaking of job creation and some of the state and local financial incentives the company has received to build its Treasure Coast studio. “The support from the community and its leaders has really helped our success.”

Richard Houghten, founder and president of Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in Port St. Lucie, said cooperation between businesses is equally important for long-term success.

“We all have to pull through this together,” Houghten said. “That’s how we’ll make it, together.”

TD Bank’s Central Florida Market President Brian Ziemba said businesses’ growth and prospering also depend on the amount of risk an organization is willing to take.

“Our success comes from our strong risk culture within our organization,” Ziemba said. “Being successful takes strategic planning to move forward from a competitive standpoint.”

Christopher Morhardt, president and founder of Port St. Lucie-based Pharus Group, a business consulting firm, has organized the event for the past three years.

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Reserve your space

STUART – Port St. Lucie, Fla- The 3rd Annual Treasure Coast Business Summit is coming to the Port St. Lucie Civic Center on Friday, May 20. Reservations are now being taken for vendors planning to display their products or services in the exhibition hall.

Each vendor will be provided with one 8 foot display table, 2 chairs and your company name will be listed in the program. The cost for the Business Builder Vendor Package is only $100.

In addition, Gold, Silver and Bronze packages are available with prices ranging from $750 – $2500. Details are available on the website

The theme of the TCBS is Education and Economic Development. It will feature a variety of speakers including Frank T. Brogan, Chancellor of the State University System, Economic Development Officials from the Treasure Coast and the area’s top educators.

The Treasure Coast Business Summit is sponsored by TD Bank and the Law Firm Greenspoon Marder.

For more information regarding registration, sponsorship or tickets, please visit or call 772-224-2898.

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Port St. Lucie to co-host business summit

Port St. Lucie will partner with Pharus Group LLC and DLF Media as host of the third annual Treasure Coast Business Summit, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 20 at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center.

This year’s theme is education and economic development, and the format has changed, with more space being devoted to an expected 60 to 100 vendor displays.

Frank T. Brogan, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, will be the keynote speaker. Other commitments include: Indian River State College President Edwin Massey; Michael Lannon, St. Lucie County schools superintendent; Arthur Keiser, CEO and founder of Keiser University; James Crocker, CEO of Waterblasting Technologies Inc.; Brian Ziemba of TD Bank; and Jonathan Snyder of Argus International Risk Services.

For more information, visit or call 772-224-2898.

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Business Summit planned for May 20

The 3rd Annual Treasure Coast Business Summit returns to the Port St. Lucie Civic Center on May 20.

The theme this year is Education and Economic Development.

Frank T. Brogan, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, will be the keynote speaker. He formerly served as lieutenant governor of Florida; president of Florida Atlantic University and commissioner of education.

There will be a CEO Forum Panel Discussion featuring James Crocker of Waterblasting Technologies Inc.; Brian Ziemba, market president at TD Bank; Richard Houghten of Torrey Pines Institute; Jonathan Snyder of Argus International Risk Solutions; and others from across the Treasure Coast.

There will be an economic development update with Larry Pelton (St Lucie County), Brian Cartland (Okeechobee), Tim Dougher (Martin County) and Helene Caseltine (Indian River County) to inform the local business community of activity and news affecting growth in the region; and an educational roundtable is planned..

This year’s format will feature more business-to-business vendors and fewer speakers. Participants will have more time to look over and discuss business related products and services.

The event will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of St. Lucie County.

For more information regarding registration, sponsorship or tickets, visit or call 772-224-2898.

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Port St. Lucie mayoral candidates debate

PORT ST. LUCIE — Seven of the 10 candidates for mayor squared off Thursday for their first public debate and most agreed the major issues facing the city are budget woes, city spending, declining property values and job creation.

The debate, sponsored by the second annual Treasure Coast Business Summit at the Civic Center, was moderated by Charlie Neeld of WPSL 1590 AM. About 50 people attended the debate, which was a question and answer format.

The candidates unable to attend Thursday’s debate were Albert Hickey, Kurt Hoyer and JoAnn Faiella. During a telephone interview last week, Hoyer said he would withdraw from the race because he didn’t have the help or the finances to run an effective campaign. However, it’s unclear whether Hoyer has officially withdrawn his candidacy.


Christopher Cooper: 50, city councilman and Palm Beach County firefighter

Shirley Copenhaver: 46, Realtor at Bradley & Associates Real Estate

Joe Edge: 51, owner of the Tax Shoppe

JoAnn Faiella: 46, records specialist at the Port St. Lucie Police Department

Albert Hickey: 48, retired New York City police detective

Kurt Hoyer: 66, formerly employed by L&M Botruc Co. out of Galliano, La., delivering supplies to oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico; laid off in April

Victoria Huggins: 55, political activist and former research specialist at a Palm Beach County lobbying firm

Frank Lillo: 56, sales agent and instructor for Keller Williams Realty

Timothy Neely: 26, general manager of a national restaurant chain

James Rich: 46, vice chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Board and account executive for a direct mail marketing firm


Candidates were asked a series of questions. Here are the candidates answers to the question: What do you consider as the greatest challenge facing the city of Port St. Lucie?

Chris Cooper

“While obviously the biggest challenge is this year’s current budget, and with my leadership, hopefully we’ll be able to make our way through these trying times. It’s very easy to sit back right now and say what you will do for this year’s budget when you don’t have to do it. I actually have to step up to the plate and make these decisions this year. The City of Port St. Lucie could not grow and could not take on projects of this nature without having to incur some debt. No city operates without debt. We geared up for the boom. This budget will fall back on us. While people are demanding more services and wanting to pay less taxes, it’s very difficult to handle that situation. It’s very difficult to make that happen.”

Shirley Copenhaver

“The greatest challenge facing Port St. Lucie is an economic depression. At one point we were one of the fastest growing cities, and tax revenue was pouring into our city coffers. The City Council saw all of this money and couldn’t resist showboating themselves to the public. City government grew beyond the ability of the city to support it, and personnel services, the employment pay budget for the city, grew from 16.6 percent in fiscal year 2006-2007 to the year 2008-2009. Growth like this with what was looming on the horizon at that time was unacceptable and certainly did not show proper stewardship of anyone sitting on the City Council.”

Joe Edge

“Identifying the challenge is easy. It’s the budget. Solving the problem is the actual challenge. Unemployment is the culprit, and expanding the job base at every possible level is the solution. Jobs create revenue and allow the economy to grow. Add in over 20 years of business experience in budgeting and finance, thinking outside the box is as critical as taking the emotion and politics out of reducing the budget.”

Victoria Huggins

“I think there are two great challenges facing the city of Port St. Lucie. One is our city’s massive long-term debt, which we have been saddled with by the previous administration. The second challenge is jobs creation. We cannot pay off the $2,051,953,337 long-term debt (including interest) with a 14 percent unemployment rate. This long-term debt figure includes the interest due on our outstanding balance. I believe to hold down our future debt the citizens must have a voice in the amount of expenditures that can be approved by the council.”

Frank Lillo

“Our biggest challenge is that we need to continue to make the transition from a local service economy to a broad-based service economy with good industrial (jobs). We’ve already started with the biotech industry and the digital media industry. We cannot afford during this down period to lose the momentum that we’ve started and that many people have worked very hard for to attract those kinds of industries because that’s the only way ladies and gentlemen that we’re going to have real organic job and career growth.”

Timothy Neely

“The greatest challenge, in my opinion, is the overhead of the city. How can we help grow the businesses here if we can’t even keep our city in black? (We need to make) drastic changes to the way the city works, to what we spend our money on to the way we operate everyday, Until that’s fixed, how are we going to attract business here? The city is running the city like they don’t know how.”

James Rich

“The greatest challenge immediately to the city is the budget. We heard earlier this year that we were going to have a deficit of $4.5 million. I heard earlier today the projected ad valorem tax that does fund the general revenue fund is lower than expected. We’re going to have a $10 million projected deficit. That’s huge.”

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Recruit good employees

PORT ST. LUCIE — Business leaders across the Treasure Coast are being motivated for success after the economic downturn.

More than 200 business owners registered for the second annual Treasure Coast Business Summit at the city’s Civic Center on Thursday as presented by consulting firms Pharus Group LLC and DLF Media Consultants Inc.

Chris Morhardt, the president of the Pharus Group, said the summit had three components: networking, education and motivation.

“The theme for this year is a time for growth,” he said. “That’s basically saying it’s time to get your head out of the sand.”

Since businesses already have cut back as far as they can, Morhardt said business leaders should take a proactive approach to developing a growth plan and a sales and marketing plan.

“If you’re not growing,” he said, “you’re dying.”

Morhardt said the summit helped get the word out about organizations like the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Service Corp of Retired Executives, the Small Business Development Center at Indian River State College and the college’s Corporate and Community Training Institute.

To teach skills and fundamentals of how to be successful in business, the summit included a forum of chief executive officers from across the Treasure Coast.

Dr. Thomas Fullman, the dean at an online business college called Innova World Wide College, led the discussion. He noted the running theme of the forum was how to be prepared for growth.

Business for Rick Schuett of SOL Inc. in Palm City is experiencing double-digit growth in manufacturing solar-powered lights. He prepared for growth by focusing on attracting the smartest people.

“The first step to driving growth is to get the right people in the right seats,” Schuett said.

Jonathan Teaford of Digital Doman Holdings in Port St. Lucie, dealt with his growing business by opening a facility in the city and looking to expand into different markets.

RJ Siegel of LoPresti Aviation in Sebastian plans to explore how to improve his existing products, such as to create electrical engines.

But Denny Hudson of Seacoast National Bank in Stuart agreed people should be the focus. He said businesses need to recruit good employees during the economic downturn for future growth.

“This is probably the most opportune moment that we’ve had,” Hudson said.

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