Embry-Riddle Students Collaborate with City

Embry-Riddle Students Collaborate with Daytona Beach
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students, from left, Dylan Brazil, Kyle Penta and Cheyenne Halstead present their findings at a meeting of the Daytona Beach Community Redevelopment Agency.

The city of Daytona Beach has a new team of consultants looking at development issues, and they aren’t from a fancy Orlando firm but right here at home.

Three students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Kyle Penta, Cheyenne Halstead and Dylan Brazil – presented their findings to city commissioners sitting as the city’s community redevelopment agency on a project for the Daytona Beach Redevelopment and Neighborhood Services Department earlier this month.

The students were paired with the city as part of their work in a Professional Consulting class at the university with the objective to increase public interactions and cohesiveness with local government.

“I’m happy to say we had a wonderful collaboration with Embry-Riddle students,” said Phoebe Fuqua, the city’s redevelopment project manager. “With this collaboration they were acting as consultants to the development department.”

Fuqua said the students’ project was designed to collect data and come back with solutions and provide a community event. While the event was eventually cancelled, the students did canvass the community redevelopment areas, talking to business owners about their concerns.

“We originally planned on doing an event on the esplanade,” Penta said.

The students surveyed business owners on a variety of topics, including the name and type of business operation, number of employees, years in business, how the city can be a resource for businesses and what they would fix about the city if they had a magic wand to make it happen.

Brazil said businesses surveyed in the downtown area expressed concerns about abandoned buildings in the neighborhood and cited a need for more upkeep in the area to help with public perceptions.

In the beach area, Halstead said business owners were happy with the special events currently in the area but believe more are needed.

“This section wanted more of a steady stream of events,” she said. “And (they) were interested in how the city is advertised to make it more attractive.”

Homelessness was an issue that came up throughout the redevelopment areas, Penta said, with businesses saying the city needs to focus on “really figuring out what can we do for the citizens to solve the homeless issue we have going on.”

City Commissioner Quanita May had a series of questions for the students, treating them as she would any consultant presenting findings.

“I would absolutely love to do a follow-up with you,” she told them, before inquiring about the size of the sample, how they determined which businesses to survey and other methodological issues.

Penta said the collaboration between ERAU and the city is going to be an ongoing effort for future students.