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Quint and Rishy Studer Discuss Philanthropy & Looking Forward

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Last week, Pensacola businessman Quint Studer and his wife Rishy donated a quarter of a million dollars to a pair of local projects. Studer spoke recently about how they choose to give, and what’s coming up.

The Studers donated $100,000 for expansion of the Infusion Center at the Baptist Cancer Institute.

“Just like when we gave the money for the YMCA, or the money for the Pensacola Pledge,” said Studer. “You want to give dollar amounts that truly are significant enough to make something very different."

Another $150,000 was given to The University of West Florida Historic Trust, for an early learning playground at the Museum Plaza that’s now under construction behind the T.T. Wentworth Museum. 

“Our feeling is, we’ve got to address early learning, and what a great way to do it – let’ go to a place where kids are going to be anyway, and build learning right into the environment,” Studer said.

When comes to fielding requests for donations, Studer says a number of areas are considered – adding that not all gifts are as high-profile as those announced last week.

“We get a lot of requests so we do a lot of smaller gifts too,” said Studer. “But we periodically want to give gifts that we think can make a real impact, a bigger impact. Not that smaller ones don’t.”

When a donation is settled on, the option for the beneficiary to seek matching funds is part of the offer. There have been other instances: such as with the Pensacola Lighthouse project, where the Studers provide funds to match what the group has raised.

Looking ahead to 2017, there are a number of projects on Quint and Rishy Studer’s plate. Those include building a type of community center in downtown Pensacola, in cooperation with the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, and the University of West Florida.

“Because I’ve never given up the dream of bringing UWF downtown beyond the Historic District and so on,” said Studer. “We’d like to create something where we could have community lectures. We have places where you can get physically fit; now we have to have a place where we can collaboratively and cooperatively solve issues.”

Such a project has been on the drawing board for more than a year, says Studer, and the search is now on for the right location downtown. But perhaps the biggest project is what to do with the 19 acres where the Main Street Treatment Plant once stood.

“We let it be known about three months ago that we would be interested if there were developers interested in that property,” Studer said.

Studer purchased the land from Emerald Coast Utilities Authority for $5.2 million about two years go. ECUA did not pay property taxes on the land, but when it was transferred to private ownership, the Studers, that created a new tax bill.

“And now we’re hoping to turn it into something else that can create even more property taxes,” said Studer. “The big thing taxes do is they help education, safety and infrastructure. And all three of those are areas we need in our communities.”

Besides philanthropy, Quint and Rishy Studer’s plates are filled with other projects – including work at The Studer Group think tank; a number of children’s iniatives, private businesses, and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos – which begins its sixth season in April.