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Syd Kitson: Hometown hero making a difference

He played in the NFL, created his own town, and is now responsible for helping our public universities and businesses survive a pandemic.

Our partners at Gulfshore Life just recognized Syd Kitson as one of its “Men of the Year.”

The answer to success is pretty simple in Kitson’s world. “You have to have that burning desire in your stomach to want to be the best,” he said.

“I always felt like I might not be the most talented but I always felt like I could outwork everybody.”

You may have heard his name tied to Babcock Ranch. He developed the country’s first solar-powered town that opened two years ago.

“We have 700,000 panels on 800 acres.”

All of that powers the town. He bought the land in 2006 right before the recession and was prepared for another uphill climb this spring when COVID-19 hit – but something unusual happened.

“I could not have been more wrong in my entire career; our sales are two to three times that they were year over year.”

He has also worked through a lot of challenges this year. He’s on the Florida Council of 100, a nonprofit tasked with helping grow our economy, and he’s the chair of the Board of Governors, which oversees our state’s 12 public universities.

“We started with putting together a blueprint to open.”

He’s the kind of guy you want on your team. Prior to his life in development and policy, he battled on the gridiron, playing for the Packers and the Cowboys. While he’s the first to admit success takes hard work, he also says, “You can be good at your job, but at the end of the day I don’t want my tombstone to say he worked really hard.”

That’s why when asked what his proudest accomplishment is, Kitson beams and says, “My family.”

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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