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Florida Sports Foundation chief retires
President & CEO Larry Pendleton leaves legacy of industry growth, job creation
ORLANDO, FL (July 6, 2012) After 21 years at the helm of the Florida Sports Foundation, Larry Pendleton has called it a career.
“As I reflect back on my 21 plus years with the Florida Sports Foundation, I am pleased with what we were able to accomplish, working in partnership with the state,” said Pendleton. “I am so thankful to have been blessed with a hard working staff that always had a can-do attitude. Our accomplishments are a result of their work.”
In 1991, Governor Lawton Chiles assigned Pendleton, who then worked for Florida’s Department of Commerce, to convert its sports division to a public-private partnership. By the following year Pendleton had become the first director of newly formed Florida Sports Foundation.
“Governor Lawton Chiles believed that public-private partnerships would work and save the state money, as well as give more flexibility to the private sector to enhance the sports industry,” Pendleton recalled. “I was given the task of getting the job done.”
During the next 20 years, Pendleton created programs and initiatives that elevated Florida’s sports to high-profile status. It grew from a $16 billion industry to the currently estimated $36 billion, employing more than 400,000 Floridians.
“Larry’s visionary approach to sports development and tireless commitment to growing this sector, making it more competitive, has had a significantly positive economic impact,” Florida Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope emphasizes. “Not only did he propel our sports industry into a nationwide leader, he helped put thousands of our citizens to work.”
Pendleton was vital to the development to notable marketing campaigns such as “PLAY FLORIDA GOLF” and “FISH FLORIDA BOAT FLORIDA,” which capitalized on the state’s fishing and boating industries.
John Webb, Pendleton’s successor as president & CEO, believes the Foundation’s marketing campaigns and the state’s Professional Team License Plates are among staple programs for which Pendleton will be mostly remembered.
“The success of the license plate program is a great testament to Larry’s legacy,” explained Webb. “The success of that program led to the creation of The Florida Sports Grant Program, which works with communities and regional sports commissions located throughout the state to attract various sporting events.”
Webb also credits the success of Pendleton’s programs as contributors to the growth of the state’s sports commissions, which primarily are responsible for Florida’s sports economic development. Florida now has 21 sports commissions.
Before his Commerce days, Pendleton spent a decade as the assistant athletic director at Florida State University where his stints also included academic advisor and football coach (1973-80). His relationship with the Seminoles, however, dates back even further: Pendleton was an offensive lineman (1966-68).
About Florida Sports
Based in Tallahassee, Florida Sports is a division of Enterprise Florida Inc. and serves as the state’s lead organization in promoting and developing Florida’s Sports Industry. Florida Sports is a private, not-for-profit corporation operating as a division of Enterprise Florida and is overseen by Enterprise Florida’s board of directors.
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Enterprise Florida, Inc. (www.eflorida.com) is a partnership between Florida's business and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. Headquartered in Orlando, Enterprise Florida’s mission is to diversify Florida’s economy and create better paying jobs for its citizens by supporting, attracting and helping to create globally competitive businesses in innovative, high-growth industries. In pursuit of its mission, Enterprise Florida works closely with a statewide network of economic development partners and is funded both by the state of Florida and by private-sector businesses.