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East County Monday, Apr. 15, 2019 1 week ago

Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance hires new CEO/president

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Dominic DiMaio, former Synovus Bank Division CEO, hopes to lead Alliance into expansion.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

As Dominic DiMaio discussed his developing job opportunities in the banking industry with his wife, Rita, he noted they would have to move out of state.

That just wasn't acceptable.

Rita DiMaio became part of the "driving force" to prompt her husband to seek other possibilities so they could stay in the River Club home they love.

On Monday, the possibility became reality. Dominic DiMaio, 53, was named president and chief executive officer of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance (LWRBA).

Dominic DiMaio takes over the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance with 30 years of financial industry experience.

"We love this market," said DiMaio, who was the Synovus Bank Division CEO for Central Florida when he left in January. "We could have gone just about anywhere when we left Philadelphia 13 years ago, but we loved it here.

"And in these next 13 years, Lakewood Ranch is going to explode. This is going to be a city in itself, if it isn't already. I can help steer the Alliance as this market grows. I enjoy people and I love that I get to see and touch a lot of people in this job."

Heather Williams, the LWRBA chairman, said the seven-person search committee found the right person.

"We wanted to find a strong leader to take us to the next level and to execute our strategic vision," Williams said. "We wanted someone to elevate us in the region. We had significant resumes and qualified candidates, but we felt he was the leader to move in that direction. He has strategic vision and strong ties to the community."

DiMaio currently is on the LWRBA board's executive committee. 

"Dom already is involved (with the Alliance)," Williams said. "He knows what he is getting into."

While he has exited the banking industry, DiMaio said his experience will help in his new role.

"I spent 30 years in the financial industry and most of my life that has meant forming relationships," he said. "I don't know this will be much different than being at Synovus."

He said he will continue to attract business to the area and he will be working with the Sarasota and Manatee economic development corporations. He said Synovus had a presence at almost every event in the area, as does the Alliance.

DiMaio's exact starting date hasn't been set, but it will be "effective later this month."

"As any job, I have a new team to meet," DiMaio said. "I want to show them I am not a dictator because I know they have had great leaders."

Heather Kasten resigned as CEO/president of the Alliance in January to become CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. She had run the Alliance since 2014.

"I am going to sit, listen and watch," DiMaio said of his opening days at the Alliance. "I have told our employees not to get concerned because I ask why we do something."

The Alliance currently has just over 615 members.

He said the Alliance will be a driving engine in the future growth of Lakewood Ranch.

"Obviously, you have the big engine to the east — SMR," he said. "But with 600 members, and hopefully 800, and then 1,000, we can now help to carry this forward."

While DiMaio doesn't mind the long hours, he likes to relax with his family on his boat, whether that means the bay or gulf. He also likes to do some fishing and he calls himself an average golfer.

Dom and Rita have three children, Francesca, 23; Dominic, 21; and Mario, 16.

Williams said she looks forward to DiMaio strengthening the Alliance.

"When the tide rises, we all rise together," she said. "We have big goals."

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