Yesterday, SRQ magazine hosted a well-received SB2: GOOD GROWTH Economic Indicators breakfast symposium at The Francis in downtown Sarasota. As guests filled their plates with a mouth-watering breakfast spread, series sponsor Lesley Hatfield of CS&L CPA’s welcomed those in attendance. As a locally grown business, giving back and supporting worthwhile initiatives are just as important to CS&L as their mission to provide the finest level of personal service and technical expertise.
Tammie Sweet, Director of GrowFL gave a compelling presentation on the common myths of entrepreneurial ecosystems and what it takes to strive economically as a community. GrowFL helps local communities build entrepreneurial efforts centered on the Economic Gardening philosophy. This philosophy embraces strategies for second–stage companies in a community, region or state. “These are companies that have between 10-99 employees and 1 million to 50 million in revenue. They are hidden in the fabric of your community. We help them identify where new market potential may be as well as provide peer environments where they can get with other CEO’s of second–stage companies.” said Sweet.
- Myth: Ecosystems can be created and controlled by one organization
Fact: When targeting areas for entrepreneurship stimulation, clusters offer a fertile environment where survival rates are higher and performance better than elsewhere.
- Myth You know that you have a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem when there are more and more start–ups
Fact: For a booming economy, bet on high growth firms, not small business.
- Myth Job creation is the primary objective of fostering and entrepreneurship ecosystem
Fact: Job creation is a by-product, but it is not the objective.
- Myth In order to strengthen your regional entrepreneurship ecosystem, it is necessary to establish co–working spaces, incubators and the like
Fact: These types of intentionally created support mechanisms are just a piece of the puzzle.
- Myth There is one one recipe for success
Fact: There is no right way to do this. Try, fail and try again.
Tammie left us with impressive statistics on our region’s economy and job market stating that the Sarasota-Bradenton area was ranked 60th out of 381 cities across the United States for jobs gained in 2015 and 5th in Florida.
Between sips of coffee and bites of bacon, guests were able to hear from movers and shakers in the Sarasota-Bradenton economic community. Panelists hailed from a variety of organizations: Jeff Maultsby from the Sarasota County Government, Joan McGill from the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, Steve Queior from the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Peter Straw from the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association. Panelists were passionate about the current state of our economy, the value of education and the importance of a bi-county relationship.
Steve Queior, President and CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce kicked off the conversation by explaining how significantly our economy has grown since The Great Recession. “We lost 38,000 jobs in The Great Recession and we have since gained them almost all the way back. One of our challenges is we have to create more higher paying jobs for the standard of living for our neighbors and residents.” Steve was also recognized for this 12 years at the helm of the Sarasota Chamber, a position he will be wrapping up this coming month.
“To achieve innovation, you have to disrupt your business. The Great Recession, disrupted every business in our community and we were fortunate enough to have leadership strong enough that said ‘hey if we get together we can find solutions to this’,” Peter Straw, Executive Director of the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association pointed out.
When asked about the recent decision to decision made by the county in regards to turning down incentives panelists were quick to share their thoughts.
“Florida is a much more business-friendly state than it was 8 years ago. The question is what kind of incentives do you offer and what kind of payback do you get for the incentives,” said Peter Straw.
Jeff Maultsby, Director of Economic and Business Development for Sarasota County argued, “When it comes to attracting businesses to our community, incentives are probably 4th or 5th on the list of things that are important to the company that is considering our community. First and foremost is talent. Where will I get my people? That is the number one question we get all day every day. It’s challenging for us to sometimes make that case to companies.”
Education and retention of young talent were on the forefront of conversation throughout the morning discussion. “Workforce is always an issue that companies struggle with at all levels whether it’s large or small. We are working very hard with our education institutions to create training programs that are specific,” Joan McGill, Vice President of Business Development for the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County added.
“Education and training equals economic development, it equals career pathways for our young people and neighbors of all ages and we’re doing some good things in this area in education and training, ” said Steve Queior.
Jeff Maultsby closed the conversation by stating,”Winning for us is doing the greatest amount of good for the most amount of people in Sarasota county. The core principle of economic development is to raise the wealth of our community so if we can have that impact I think that’s a win for us.”
Thank you to our SB2 series sponsors, The Resort at Longboat Key Club, CS&L CPAs and The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport for their continuous encouragement and support. Your example inspires us.
A gallery of images from SB2: GOOD GROWTH Economic Indicators is available online.
Join us Thursday, November 17 for the next installment of the 2016-2017 SB2 season with GOOD COAST: A Good Place to Work, Live, Play and Give. Keynote speaker and President of the Florida Philanthropic Network, Stacy Carlson will give us insight on opportunities created by our reputation as a philanthropic region.
For a 2016-2017 SB2 season pass or more information on the entire SB2 series, visit SRQSB2.com.