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Lee-En Chung

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Engineer and General Contractor, Ivy Ventures
Sarasota | Construction

Company: An engineer and general contractor, Lee-En Chung consults with building owners and developers on projects, many times complicated ones. She was the consulting engineer on the $31 million renovation of Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota in 2010 and 2011, for example.

Her firm now, though, is in somewhat of a holding pattern. There's some work out there, but clients, she says, are hesitant to move ahead on major developments. The ones who do seek to minimize expenses on the consulting side of the project. “Some clients,” says Chung, “are still going for the cheapest bid.”

Industry: Chung says the local construction industry needs to continue, and even enhance, how it promotes itself. That's not just self-serving, but a boon to the overall economic climate. “When the construction industry in Sarasota County is thriving,” she says, “people are more likely to spend money.”

A forthcoming industry trend is partnerships, projects Chung, who recently attended a seminar in Miami hosted by the Florida Council for Public Private Partnerships. The buzz there, she says, was about both partnerships between public and private entities, and cooperation between companies that vie for work.

Region: Chung reads and hears about a recovery in the economy, but she's unsure how legitimate the rebound really is. In addition to low bids, banks remain hesitant to back projects. “It's not as rosy as some people say,” says Chung. “I don't see it looking up immediately.”

Still, one positive aspect of the Sarasota-Bradenton economy, says Chung, is the activity generated by The Mall at University Town Center. That's a $315 million project in north Sarasota County currently under construction. It's scheduled to open in October 2014.


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