Andrew Rothfeder took the time to help the Studers with their popular Pensacola Business Challenge, and with 112 initial applicants the help was certainly needed.
“It was an eye-opener as to the depth and spirit of entrepreneurship we have locally,” Rothfeder said. “It really showed us that often it is as simple as creating the platform of opportunity. People are willing to work extremely hard to realize their dreams.”
Encouraging people to invest in Pensacola by opening their business here is one of the points Rothfeder made when mapping his plans for the city’s future.
He explained that by creating and modifying processes and incentives to ease the path to business—existing, entrepreneurial and relocation—the waterfall effect would be significant.
“This needs to continue to happen at both public and private levels,” he said. “The Pensacola Business Challenge is a great example of the private sector making a real change. In addition to the obvious benefits, Carmen’s Lunch Bar, the contest has inspired several other contestants to move forward with their new businesses including Sabor Tamales and Emerald Coast Tours. How cool is that?”
Rothfeder is a real estate investor/developer and partner at Levin & Rinke Resort Reality. Redeveloping downtown waterfront and creating downtown housing are also part of his plans for Pensacola’s future. He and the Studers recently purchased the former “Penko” building on the corner of Main and Palafox streets.
“We are in the redevelopment design phase now,” he said. “The general idea is true urban mixed use, lofts over retail. Between this project, The Bodacious Olive, Carmen’s Lunch Bar and the development plans on the two south corners, I believe this intersection will be the hot new corner of downtown, providing a gateway to the Maritime Park.”
Keeping up with the momentum created at the Community Maritime Park is also important. Businesses are opening at the base of the stadium, including Beach Berry Frozen Yogurt, which brings the frozen yogurt craze closer to downtown.
Even with several projects underway, Rothfeder is proud to note the progress of Pensacola.
“I love the fact that my current conversations in the community are less about Pensacola’s potential and more about what we are doing right now,” he said. “Our leaders are creating a culture of action and teamwork, and it is going viral.”
Rothfeder looks to cities like Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., and St. Petersburg, Fla. when thinking of Pensacola in the next few years.
“My vision for the future is a city that is mentioned right alongside those places, a tier-1 choice for a business, entrepreneur or family.”
And if redeveloping downtown and mentoring local entrepreneurs aren’t enough, he also is on the boards of Temple Beth-El and Tri Gulf Coast.
“It may sound cliché, but this stuff is incredibly rewarding and fun,” Rothfeder said. “My parents were very involved in their community and it taught me the importance of giving back.”