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Business and Community Leaders Convene at Nova Southeastern University’s Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation

“What we determined by research is that Miami-Dade and Broward County have the largest number of startups, every single year, of any region in the country.”

Two years ago, just a few months before the debut of the Alan B. Levan | NSU Broward Center of Innovation at Nova Southeastern University, Alan B. Levan told SFBW, “As I asked our board members to join in this initiative, I had no turndowns. Even when I approached the county commission, not only was it unanimously approved, but each commissioner wanted to speak in favor of it. It’s one of those ideas whose time had come.”

By now it has become clear that Levan’s dream has come to fruition, as evidenced by a recent CEO Connect panel discussion hosted jointly by SFBW and the Levan Center.

John Wensveen, Ph.D., the Center’s chief innovation officer and its executive director, assumed hosting duties, eliciting insights from Levan—who is also the chairman of BBX Capital and the CEO and chairman of Bluegreen Vacations—along with George L. Hanbury II, Ph.D., president and CEO of Nova Southeastern University; Bob Swindell, the president & CEO of Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance; and Kathleen Cannon, president and CEO, United Way of Broward County.

The event carried the encompassing theme, South Florida Impact: Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship, and Levan reinforced his mantra of right time, right place. “When you create a business, and this is a business—these 54,000 square feet represent a startup business—you have to determine whether a need exists,” he said. “What’s the opportunity for your business in your locale or that you’re marketing to? So, I would ask, if we took all these lofty aspirational goals but we were in the Dakotas, would it be the right time, and would we have the opportunity? I would say no. What we determined by research is that Miami-Dade and Broward County have the largest number of startups, every single year, of any region in the country, but it is not a good place to scale up. They start but they don’t finish. That tells us that the entrepreneurs are here and hope springs eternal, and what they need is help to get to the next stage so they can take these dreams and put them into viable businesses that are commercialized.”

Wensveen noted, “Our goal is to have local, regional, national and international impact, and just to put that into perspective, we have entrepreneurs who are now leading other cities across the country and other cities around the world and they’re incorporating right here at the Levan Center, creating their LLC’s using this as their home address. We’re now proceeding with what we call the country desk model, and the country desk means we negotiate with innovative nations from all over the world that have strong entrepreneurial ecosystems that we can link together. We signed our very first country, which is the Cayman Islands, and now we have access to the whole international network of the Cayman Islands.”

Wensveen, who oversees the Center’s day-to-day operations, said that being the Center’s chief innovation officer is the best role of his career. “I have to thank Dr. Hanbury and Alan Levan for the opportunity, because when we started here, I kind of remember saying there was one rule: There are no rules. And that’s what spurs innovation, and it’s been an exciting journey to date and we have so much more to do. We thank the community for its support because we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”

Photo by Eduardo Schneider

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.