Scott Sowers knows Palm Coast. Aside from being born and raised in the area, he can quickly name off area buildings he helped build: Home Depot and Lowe’s come to mind first. In addition to elementary schools and homes in the area, it’s a list that could take some time to recite.
Graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in building construction, Sowers immediately went to work for ITT Corp. in 1994 as an intern. It was ITT that purchased about 46,000 acres of rural farmland in the 1970s that is now called Palm Coast.The entire process was known simply as a master plan.
By the mid-1990s, ITT disolved, leaving its former vice president, Sam Cline, to start Cline Construction and essentially pick up where ITT left off. Sowers was quickly brought on board. Now, as president of Cline Construction and the soon-to-be chairman of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates, Sowers is moving forward with ways to keep Palm Coast growing while maintaining the small town feel. And he has a plan.One aspect of the plan, Sowers said, is to attract technology and high-tech businesses.
"What we are looking for is clean business," Sowers said.
He said the area is good for technology and clean industrial businesses because of its proximity to Jacksonville and Orlando.Sowers believes that clean industry is what brings in homes and high-paying jobs, but it’s as the chamber’s chairman that will really allow his hands-on, transparent approach to business to shine.The importance of the chamber to Flagler County is clear to Sowers.
"It’s something that needs to be done if we want to keep our economy moving," he said. "We can’t be stagnant. We need to promote business and do what we can to help them."
That help Sowers refers to is by building a face-to-face relationship between the businesses and the chamber. Having that contact is easier said than done, but Sowers thinks it’s crucial.
"It’s easy to text and send out emails, but seeing them face to face does a lot more, (we must) show them there’s value to being part of the Chamber of Commerce," Sowers said.
Getting involved and regularly meeting businesses in person would allow the chamber members to really understand the needs of the area businesses and be a clear voice on their behalf on government issues. Rebecca DeLorenzo, interim president of the chamber, believes a hands-on approach would come easy for Sowers. The annual Potato Festival comes to mind for her.
"One of the first opportunities that I had to work with Scott was at the inaugural Potato Festival in 2008," Delorenzo recalls. "Tammy Sharpe, the Bunnell chamber chairwoman at the time, had asked Scott to volunteer in the french fry (and) beer tent. Needless to say, Scott was chained to a hot, greasy fryer the entire weekend."
Since that time, Sowers has compiled a team of hardworking volunteers who scrub, cut and fry the french fries four years in a row. The Potato Festival has grown under Sower’s leadership.
"As a longtime resident and businessman in Bunnell and Flagler, Sowers is able to rally the troops and offer solutions or volunteer workforce quickly and efficiently," DeLorenzo wrote in an email interview.
Being a family man also keeps Sowers busy. With two active sons, ages 10 and 13, rallying the troops is something that Sowers and his wife, Lisa, do at home. When asked about his morning routine, Sowers said a lot of time is devoted to just keeping up with the kids. Sowers’ hands on approach also shows up in baseball, not just business. Chris Conklin, a longtime friend and owner of Chris Conklin Painting, has coached with Sowers for years.
"With Scott, what you see is what you get," Conklin said.
The time and attention each kid requires when learning the sport is something Sowers gave to all the players.
"Everybody was treated the same," Conklin added. "His kid didn’t get any special treatment."
What one gets with Sowers is evident: A man who wears many hats throughout the day. From builder and chamber member, to family man and baseball coach, Sowers has the blueprints to keep Palm Coast’s development thriving.