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Instead of blabbing on about The HuB, “a warehouse space on Boulevard of the Arts in Sarasota that has become a combination new-media incubator and gathering spot for hip people,” we thought we’d excerpt a recent Herald-Tribune article detailing the young venture. Laurel Park Management is happy to go on record, however, by saying that it makes us proud to see developments like this in Sarasota. We love this town, and would love to see it become even better. Sarasota’s present will be more enriching, its future more dynamic, if we embrace mixed-use neighborhoods and diversity of all kinds. Downtown should be a place that welcomes young and old, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, the hip and the square.

Remember the times you stopped by Sarasota News & Books (or Charlie’s, for those with longer memories) to pick up a coffee and the newspaper or pick out a book? You never knew who you might run into, who you might strike up a conversation with. Those were heady moments in a truly urbane place. The interaction of “others,” of people of different stripes, is what makes a city interesting. So congratulations to The HuB for adding to the mix in downtown Sarasota. Now for the article:

The HuB occupies a large space with high ceilings and one of those big roll-up garage doors leading into the middle of it. The two founders of The HuB — Rich Swier Jr. and former Michael Saunders & Co. Realtor Matt Orr — have retained large open spaces near the entrances and built a collection of cubicles and work stations toward the back.

Since it is Tuesday and lunchtime, acupuncturist Hayley Enright is conducting one of her weekly community acupuncture sessions in a comfy seating area — couches and cushioned chairs anchored around a coffee table and area rug. She moves deftly between six walk-in patients. One by one, she studies their pulses and any medical complaints they have noted on a one-page form, then places the sterile pins in an effort to encourage the life force within each of them to function as effectively as possible.

Meanwhile, her husband, sound engineer Frank Enright, is around the corner, involved in his own unique combination of art and surgery. Closeted inside his tiny but well-equipped sound studio, Enright is editing short musical segments he has created electronically to fit visuals and voice-overs in a proposed new commercial for “Ask Gary,” a lawyer and doctor referral service that has become a customer of HuB Studios.

That is a tiny slice of life at the HuB. It is a free-wheeling, hard-to-categorize business that deals in video and audio productions and in helping clients do Internet marketing with an emphasis on social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

Oh, yeah, and in raising the collective consciousness of mankind.

Besides making money, the HuB lists for its members a parallel mission of finding ways to make Sarasota more interesting for people like themselves. They are younger, creative types who tend to live a large part of their waking lives in an Internet cloud, while at the same time loving music and being with their friends.

Along those lines, the HuB two years ago created the Vinyl Music Festival. This summer, the festival drew 6,000 visitors.

When search engine giant Google Inc. announced early this year that it would pick a U.S. community to receive ultra-high-speed Internet-to-the-home service, the HuB was behind the curtain, pushing all the right buttons to improve Sarasota’s visibility as a candidate. In other words, when the mayor jumped into the shark tank at Mote Marine Laboratory and created a hot YouTube video in the process, it was HuB co-founder Rich Swier Jr. who instigated the scheme.

The weekly acupuncture session is typical of the way the HuB’s founders try to make work life more interesting.

They also asked electric vehicle maker Pete Hansen to convert a van to run on rechargeable batteries. Hansen then installed his prototype for a charging station at the HuB as well. It displays sponsors’ videos while the owner plugs and unplugs his vehicle.

If you look a little closer at Enright’s relationship to the HuB, you can see how different this place is from a standard media/public relations shop. continue reading at