Ed Swift, president of Historic Tours of America, receives a LeRoy Collins Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Association of Florida Colleges.
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FKCC alumnus Edwin Swift, III was honored with a “LeRoy Collins Distinguished Alumnus Award” from the Association of Florida Colleges at a gala held during the association’s annual conference in Orlando last Thursday.  Swift, the President of Historic Tours of America, Inc. (HTA), was one of only four alumni from the state’s 28 colleges to earn this prestigious award, which is bestowed only every other year.

Swift, a student from FKCC’s  inaugural class in 1965, won in the “Hometown Hero” category, citing how his “love for his hometown, passion for history, and keen entrepreneurial sense has led him to soar as a nationally successful businessman while remaining rooted as a champion for his local community.”

“FKCC opens the doors to hundreds and hundreds of people each year who would have no place to go, no choices.  They can live at home, they can go to school, and they can participate in the College campus,” said Swift.  “Without it, I wouldn’t have had any college opportunity, and I think I always would have missed it.  It was really good for me.”

Swift took courses at the College’s first campus set up at the former Douglass High School.  He did so while balancing work at his family’s camera shop on Duval Street.

“Ed Swift is now well-known for his business success, but in 1965, he was just like most FKCC students today—juggling college with work and family commitments—and unable to stop life to move to the mainland to further his education,” said FKCC President Dr. Jonathan Gueverra.

After his time at FKCC, Swift and his partners went on to establish HTA, a multi-million dollar business that laid the groundwork for the strongest economic driver in the Keys: tourism.  The company expanded from its home base in Key West to six cities, rich in heritage: Washington, D.C., Boston, San Diego, Savannah, and St. Augustine.  HTA provides historically-oriented vacation experiences to millions of tourists each year through the operation of trolleys, street trains, high-speed ferries, themed retail stores, festival marketplaces and other historic attractions.

While Swift’s HTA helped catapult Key West to become one of the nation’s most attractive places to visit, he continues to develop ways to give back to the local community. His extensive civic activities and government involvement span a variety of interests— including economic and land use planning, historic and cultural preservation, environmental issues, and affordable living initiatives.  He has served as a Monroe County Commissioner and as a 25-year board member and president of the Key West Chamber of Commerce.  He has founded, chaired, and/or served on dozens of local and state boards and associations.

Swift’s career and contributions have been widely recognized.  On a national level, the Society of American Travel Writers presented him with a Historic Preservation Award as well as a Phoenix Award for Neighborhood Rehabilitation. His local accolades and awards include induction to the Key West Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Fame for lifetime achievements and the Golan Award from the Florida Keys Hotel Motel Association for substantial service to the community.  In 2010, he was presented with FKCC’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

In recent years, Swift has supported FKCC’s Hospitality and Tourism Management initiative.  He now personally presents a scholarship sponsored by HTA to a Key West High School graduate planning to attend FKCC to pursue a career in the industry that Swift helped to build in the Keys.

“FKCC is incredibly proud of Ed and thankful for all the support he has provided to the College throughout the years—which range from serving as a guest lecturer to giving free Conch Tour Train rides to students,” said Gueverra.  “He serves as an inspiration to many—especially students at FKCC.”