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Downtown Development, Rollins Retirement, Red Lobster's Role in Desegregation, Pledge to Stop Hate

A new sports and entertainment district is developing in downtown Orlando. The President of Rollins College is retiring. Orlando-based Red Lobster faces financial issues. The seafood restaurant’s founder helped integrate Central Florida restaurants. The Central Florida Pledge stands up to hate.

Downtown Development

After more than a decade of plans and proposals, downtown Orlando is about to undergo a transformative development with new housing and hotels, retail and restaurants, and other venues and various additions. Orlando City Council gave final approval for a Sports and Entertainment District Downtown next to the Kia Center. Central Florida Public Media reporter Joe Byrnes covered the meeting yesterday and joins Engage to discuss the implications of the long-awaited project including the tax incentives being offered.

Rollins Retirement

Rollins College in Winter Park is a small liberal arts school. This morning its President, Grant Cornwell, announced he is retiring at the end of the 2025 academic year. Cornwell joins Engage to discuss his plans and what led to his decision.

Red Lobster's Role in Desegregation

The seafood lover in you may know Red Lobster for its endless shrimp deals or for their famous Cheddar Bay biscuits. The worldwide chain got its start in Central Florida. Orlando based Darden Restaurants sold the Red Lobster business in 2014, but its headquarters remain in the City Beautiful. Last week, it was reported the seafood company is considering bankruptcy. Jonathan Maze is the Editor-in-Chief of Restaurant Business Magazine. He joins Engage to discuss the obstacles the company faces as dining habits have changed.

Bill Darden opened the first Red Lobster in Lakeland in 1968. Five years before in 1963, Darden operated an Orlando seafood restaurant called Gary’s Duck Inn. That concept became the foundation for Red Lobster. At that time, the idea of integrating restaurants was a new concept. Segregation wasn’t banned until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Jim Clark is a Florida historian and professor at UCF. He joins Engage to explain how Bill Darden set an example for integrating eateries in Orlando.

Pledge to Stop Hate

The Central Florida Pledgeinitiative is a local response to combat antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of discrimination. The people who sign it are making a commitment to holding themselves accountable for creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. Joel Hunter is Pastor of Community Benefit at Action Church and chairman of the Central Florida Pledge campaign. He joins Engage to explain how this movement is making a difference.

Cheryn joined WMFE after several years as a weekend news anchor at Spectrum News 13 in Orlando.