Tag Archives: The Francis

Common Entrepreneurial Myths Debunked at Sept 22, SB2 Symposium on GOOD GROWTH

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Jeff Maultsby of Sarasota County speaks on our communities current economic climate. Phot0 credit: Wyatt Kostygan


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.”

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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.

 

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2016-2017 SB2 Season Launches on Sept 22 with Good Growth: Economic Indicators at 7:30am

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Regardless of what business you’re in, the current economic climate is a hot topic and of critical importance in the community. From diversification of the marketplace, workforce readiness, jobs, the expanding healthcare sector and economic development priorities, this massive topic is dominating  C-suite discussions.  Join us as we take look at the economic indicators currently leading our region’s growth and diversification at SB2 Good Growth: Economic Indicators on Thursday, September 22, 2016  at 7:30 am at The Francis. SRQ MEDIA is an organization that prides itself in facilitating relevant conversation and events that challenge us to think and “do” differently.

Introducing Keynote Speaker Tammy Sweet

Tammie Sweet serves as Director for GrowFL, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute and leads the program throughout Florida, which helps local communities build entrepreneurial efforts centered on the Economic Gardening philosophy. This philosophy embraces strategies to grow existing businesses in a community, region or state. A 20–year veteran of economic development, Tammie holds numerous awards for her leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship. Tammie is a 2005 graduate of Leadership Collier and was part the Leadership Florida Class XXV. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Florida Virtual School and is former Chairman of the Florida Economic Development Council.

Meet our Good Growth Panelists

We are excited to announce our powerhouse line–up of panelists who share a common dedication to economic growth within the region.

If you’ve ever attended SB2 before, you know that these events start early (7:30 AM kickoff), but that the hot coffee, friendly faces of fellow movers and shakers in the community and unbeatable conversation are well worth the wake-up call. Don’t wait, purchase your tickets today by visiting SRQSB2.COM.

The 2016-2017 SB2 series is loyally supported by CS&L CPAs, The Resort at Longboat Key Club and Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget to Buy Your SB2 Ticket- Inspiring Non-Profit Transformation; Next Thursday,7/28 at 7:30am​

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There is still time to purchase tickets to our can’t miss SB2: Inspiring Non-Profit Transformation symposium next Thursday, July 28th, 2016 at 7:30 AM at The Francis! SRQ Media is an organization that prides itself in facilitating relevant conversation and events that challenge us to think and “do” differently, and let’s be honest, who can resist a well-prepared breakfast?

You will meet the minds behind some of the region’s most inspiring organizations that have challenged conventional thought to bring about progressive change to the region and local community. Keynote speaker, Lilly Weinberg, Director of Community Foundations of the Knight Foundation will give a special presentation on the strategies and cultural shift non-profit organizations can facilitate to manage internal change and transformation. Joining her on stage for discussion is our group of esteemed panelists; Dr. Michael Crosby, President and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory and AquariumJohnette Isham, Founding Director of Realize BradentonMireya Eavey, President of United Way Suncoast, and Dr. Larry Thompson, President of Ringling College of Art and DesignJaime DiDomenico, President of Cool Today will begin the morning with a few remarks as the event sponsor, and SRQ Magazine’s Executive Publisher Wes Roberts will moderate the panel discussion to capture the “rethink” that must occur to navigate change.

If you’re on the fence on whether or not you should join us, here are 3 reasons why we think you should set the alarm early for bacon, coffee, and great discussion!

  1. Inspiring Non-Profit Transformation is going to SELL OUT! While we can’t see the future, we’re pretty sure based on the amount of interest and early ticket sales that this event is going to meet capacity. If you are planning to go, learn, enjoy breakfast and network, don’t wait! Make your purchase now.
  1. We Have a Powerhouse Keynote Speaker In support of numerous transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts, The Knight Foundation is a major mover and shaker in the non-profit community. As the Director of Community Foundations, keynote Lilly Weinberg manages the Knight Foundation’s $140 million investment in 18 non-resident communities.
  1. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Regardless if you’re more fruit and yogurt or bacon and eggs, we’ll have all major food groups covered on July 28th. The conversation is early, but the breakfast is delicious, and the coffee is hot. Trade in that granola bar for a well-balanced breakfast, courtesy of the dynamic team at The Francis. Did we mention there is bacon?

Don’t wait–buy your tickets today at SRQSB2.COM. We promise you’ll walk away with more insightful knowledge than you know what to do with.

The 2015-2016 SB2 series is loyally supported by CS&L CPAsThe Resort at Longboat Key Club and Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport

 This event is sponsored by Cool Today/Plumbing Today/Energy Today.

Thank you and see you next week!

 

Five Reasons You Should Be at the Philanthropy SB2, March 24

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If you like doing good and supporting those who do, you should consider joining us for SB2: Foundations on Thursday, March 24th at 7:30 AM at The Francis! As an organization that prides itself in facilitating relevant conversation and events that challenge us to think differently, SRQ Media loves hosting SB2 breakfasts as much as we love opening a fresh box of SRQ | The Magazine each month. We hope that you’ve already bought your tickets. We’ll have some of the top regional thought leaders in private and community foundations on stage with moderator SRQ Magazine’s Executive Publisher Wes Roberts.  If you’re on the fence on whether or not you should join, we have a few reasons why we think you should cancel your plans, wake up a few minutes earlier and join us.

1. Mark Brewer is a non-profit, foundation guru. There’s just no other way to say it.

SB2: Foundations will commence with a keynote address by Mark Brewer, President and CEO of Central Florida Foundation. Mark’s experience in the field of non-profit leadership and management is dramatic. He has earned respect for his ability to build community partnerships that meet issues head-on and produce measureable results. He has worked with hundreds of individuals, families, and corporations to establish philanthropy plans, endowments, funding strategies, and planned gifts. More than 100 regional nonprofit boards have enlisted Mark’s assistance through the Foundation with strategic and scenario planning initiatives that included the use of endowed investments to sustain their organizations. He is a well-known national speaker on the independent sector, philanthropy’s role in America, venture philanthropy strategies, and the role of the independent sector in public policy. We are thrilled to have him join the SB2 stage and know that he will make a tremendous impact on the quality of information shared at SB2.

2. Our local panelists really know their stuff. 

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of working with local foundations, chances are that you’ve heard of our panelists. And if you’ve worked with them, you already know how talented, articulate and helpful they are. We are so looking forward to their very candid responses on the philanthropic climate on the Gulf Coast and how organizations can best benefit from the services provided by foundations. We’ll hear from Roxie Jerde (Community Foundation of Sarasota County), Mark Pritchett (Gulf Coast Community Foundation), Teri Hansen (Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation), Alex Quarles (Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation) and Bob Blalock (Blalock Walters, P.A.). Learn about best practices and critical funding from these local notables at SB2.

3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. 

Or so we’ve heard. Regardless if you’re more fruit and yogurt or bacon and eggs, we’ll have all major food groups covered on March 24th. The conversation is early, but the breakfast is delicious. And the coffee is hot. You don’t have to wake up and wonder if you’ll have time to scarf down a breakfast bar on the way to work on the 24th. We’ll take care of a well balanced breakfast for you. And we promise that this event is one of the best ways you’ll spend your morning this month.

4. Great minds think alike. 

If you’re planning on spending your morning with us, chances are, other amazing people are, too! For those in the non-profit community, this is a great chance to catch up with your friends from other organizations and spend some quality time together that doesn’t involve sending emails back and forth. Bring a co-worker that is great at coming up with creative ideas. Talk to other guests about donor relations strategies that have worked for them and use the morning as a chance to meet new people or reconnect with great people and organizations that make a difference in our community.

5. SPOILER ALERT: This event will sell out! 

There’s no doubt about it. Sarasota is a giving place. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned while hosting SB2, it is that you love to learn about ways to grow and develop the community organizations that make our region such a giving place. We’ve sold a large portion of tickets already and fully expect to sell out. If you’re planning on coming to SB2, don’t wait until the week of March 21st to purchase your tickets! Get them while you still can.

For tickets, visit SRQSB2.COM.

SB2: Foundations is sponsored by Blalock Walters, P.A., and the 2015-2016 SB2 series is loyally supported by CS&L CPAs, The Resort at Longboat Key Club and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport.  

Why You Should Be at SB2: Investing in the Arts

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Sarasota has long revered its identity as a beacon of culture along Florida’s southwestern coast. As the home of countless causes to bring all forms of art, dance, music, theater, culinary arts and culture to the region, it only makes sense that SRQ | The Magazine should host an SB2 symposium dedicated to keeping these institutions alive. While we’re not specifically delving into the kinds of cultural organizations that Sarasota and Bradenton are home to, we are interested in hearing from local panelists and our keynote speaker on how to maximize the potential of these institutions along the Gulf Coast.

Here’s why we think you should be at SB2: Investing in the Arts on January 28, 2016

  1. We tend to agree with Woody Dumas, former mayor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana when he said, “The arts are the best insurance policy a city can take on itself.” While the arts provide us with a sense of beauty, wonder, imagination and release from the mundane, they also provide our region with very concrete, real reasons that people should be invested in Sarasota and Bradenton. We are home to countless cultural treasures that can’t be found in equally beautiful destinations and cities both near and far. Our arts set us apart. They give us staying power and a regional flavor that it is all our own. They attract jobs and tourists and have a fringe effect on the rest of our economy. We think the arts are just as important as a healthy business climate and a state-of-the-art healthcare system. When we invest in our arts, we invest in our region.

2. We’ll learn about one of the nation’s most prestigious arts festivals, Spoleto USA. Held every year in Charleston, South Carolina since being founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, this event is a captivating affair for the entire city for 17 days and nights each spring. Heading the development for this major institution of theater and music is Julia Forster, our keynote speaker for SB2: Investing in the Arts. We look forward to hearing from Julia on how to develop a strong, relevant donor base and how lean on the whole community in support of the arts.

3. When it comes to local notables, our panel is covered. Representing a host of arts and culture organizations through support, board service and development of an effective mission, we are eagerly anticipating the great things that we will learn from Brian Mariash, Tom Luzier, Anna von Gehr and Jedediah Shoemaker. Through their service of major cultural institutions (like the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota Film Festival and Selby Gardens), we know that their expertise goes far beyond acting as a board member or employee. They have witnessed some of the finest initiatives our community has ever offered in support of the arts. Their perspective will enlighten our community to ways that we can better serve, support and preserve arts in our region.

4. Of course, we can’t round out the reasons why you should be at SB2 without mentioning the delicious breakfast that awaits you. The friendly faces at The Francis outdo themselves at each SB2. We’ve been known to get a little overzealous about the bacon, but it isn’t the only item on the menu that keeps us coming back every month. The home fries are some of the most flavorful that we’ve ever tasted, full of tender onion and peppers and laced with fresh thyme. It may be an early gathering, but we promise that the coffee is hot and the food is as satisfying as the conversation.

We can’t think of a better way to kick-off the new year than a symposium dedicated to strengthening and supporting local artists, storied programs and cultural icons that continually put us on the map. Don’t miss out on a morning full of conversation on how we can further develop and grow our status as the culture capitol of Florida. For more information on our keynote speaker and talented panelists, visit our website. Tickets are available for purchase at SRQSB2.COM.

Special thanks to CS&L CPAs, The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and Mariash Lowther Wealth Management for their support of Investing in the Arts.

What We Learned About Corporate Philanthropy at SB2

From L to R: Panelists Kelly Caldwell, Rod Hershberger, keynote speaker Connie Smith and panelists Aubrey Lynch and Lisa Krouse. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

From L to R: Panelists Kelly Caldwell, Rod Hershberger, keynote speaker Connie Smith and panelists Aubrey Lynch and Lisa Krouse. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

It is no secret that Sarasota is a giving place made up of giving people that work for giving companies and own giving businesses. The high occurrence of philanthropically planned discussions and forums throughout the year are an indicator that our community and non-profits are hungry for innovations in donor relations, maximizing giving potential and making the most of instruction in charitable opportunities.

Yesterday, SRQ | The Magazine hosted a sold-out SB2 breakfast, The Art of Corporate Philanthropy, at The Francis in downtown Sarasota. As guests filled their plates with a delicious spread morning favorites (we are partial to the bacon),  Jeff Mayers of the Resort at Longboat Key Club welcomed those in attendance and spoke to the importance of company-wide giving. The resort is known for giving to a variety of community organizations that serve at risk populations, foster a strong sense of community and develop our region through economic and the business sector.

Jeff Mayers, General Manager of The Resort at Longboat Key Club welcomed guests on behalf of SB2 Series Sponsors. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jeff Mayers, General Manager of The Resort at Longboat Key Club welcomed guests on behalf of SB2 Series Sponsors. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Before introducing the keynote speaker, Steve Ellis of MGB Homes proudly introduced his company’s dedication to corporate giving. “All of our employees are given one day a month to volunteer their time to worthy causes in the community,” said Ellis. Additionally, MGB Homes proudly supports various causes in the community. Ellis recognized the importance of corporations like Wells Fargo & Company, represented by the keynote speaker, setting the standard for investment in operations that make life better for so many.

Steve Ellis, co-founder of MGB Homes shared the company giving philosophy before introducing the keynote speaker. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Steve Ellis, co-founder of MGB Homes shared the company giving philosophy before introducing the keynote speaker. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Each year, Wells Fargo & Company ranks amongst the most charitable organizations in Florida. Since 2011, the company has given over $1.1 billion to organizations and people who make a difference. In the state of Florida, Wells Fargo consistently ranks among the top most giving institutions and has an active community relations group dedicated to the distribution of funds in the areas of community development, education, human services, arts and culture, civic engagement and the environment. Quite simply, Wells Fargo & Company is funding causes that matter through a process that speaks to its obvious culture of corporate philanthropy.

Connie E.W. Smith of Wells Fargo & Company of Florida delivered the keynote presentation. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Connie E.W. Smith of Wells Fargo & Company of Florida delivered the keynote presentation. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Leading this corporate culture of generosity in Florida is Connie E.W. Smith, Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital Program Manager and keynote speaker at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. When describing why Wells Fargo is dedicated to giving back, Smith shared a portion of Wells Fargo’s vision and values with us, “This is not about charity. It’s about intelligent and thoughtful investing in the future of the communities where our team members and customers live and work.” In an age where businesses are constantly petitioned to give, making philanthropic decisions that give and keep giving to individuals in our backyards is important. Wells Fargo invests in the missions of organizations and in causes where their expertise makes a difference, like Hands on Banking®, which prepares young people, seniors and military for financial independence with basic budgeting, foundational banking skills and how to save.

Local panelists Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company, Rod Hershberger of PGT Industries, Lisa Krouse of FCCI Insurance Group and Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs gave a thoughtful feedback on what it means to be a company dedicated to giving.

Here’s what we learned about corporate philanthropy:

1. Giving is all about relationships. Time after time, our panelists shared stories about how their corporate giving is dramatically influenced by the support and at the request of their employees, regardless of the level of leadership within the company.

“We get our direction from our employees,” said Lisa Krouse. “They are our compass.” When an FCCI employee cares about a cause and requests assistance via funding or volunteerism, the company listens. For non-profits, expanding their reach to connect with businesses like FCCI Insurance Group pays off with loyalty to their mission.

Panelists answer questions at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. From L to R: Kelly Caldwell, Rod Hershberger, Wes Roberts (center, moderator), Lisa Krouse and Aubrey Lynch. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Panelists answer questions at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. From L to R: Kelly Caldwell, Rod Hershberger, Wes Roberts (center, moderator), Lisa Krouse and Aubrey Lynch. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

In the devastating aftermath of weather events that recently affected Haiti, PGT Industries did more than the average company would do, and for good reason. “We have 90 employees with ties to Haiti. Collectively, they had over 700 family members that were affected. So we shipped supplies that met their immediate needs,” said Rod Hershberger. And the reason why they went through numerous channels to make it happen? Because it mattered tremendously to the PGT Industries employees and therefore mattered to Rod and the entire PGT Industries team.

2. Cultivating a corporate culture of giving is easier than you think. Making a commitment to giving doesn’t have to follow a set formula: hours + dollars = a charitable mission, isn’t the case for every company. And it doesn’t have to be.

“It starts from the top,” said Krouse. “The leaders have to believe that giving is the right thing to do. And they have to recognize the value, not the ROI, but realizing that doing the right thing has value.” The structure of how to give is less important than they proverbial “why.”

Aubrey Lynch mentioned something in particular that resonated with those in attendance. “Be flexible. Not everyone has the same ability to give through monetary contributions. But, CS&L CPAs has 100% participation in corporate giving.” There, employees are encouraged to serve on boards, participate in company supported 5K runs, toy drives, volunteer or donate to an organization that matters to them. “In the end, it keeps us grounded. The charity you support is an individual choice because everyone’s life shapes what they care about, but the process of giving makes you grateful.”

Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs discusses the impressive impact of their corporate giving plan. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs discusses the impressive impact of their corporate giving plan. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

3. As our workforce changes, so does the urgency to give. “Before you know it, the younger generation of employees at your company will soon be running it,” said Hershberger. “Our younger people want to be included and make a difference now. We need to give them the opportunity to give and to give to organizations where they can see the results of their giving now.”

This changing workforce demographic of younger people often means that new recruits are looking for a corporate giving structure off the bat. All of the panelists agreed that their giving is not done to draw attention to the company or for a feigned expression of generosity, many noted that sharing the corporate giving policy with potential employees has become a very important part of the hiring process.

“Giving is now becoming a bigger part of recruitment. It is important for young professionals, and when there is a decision to be made on an offer, young professionals are looking for corporate giving,” said Krouse.

But it is also worth noting that the companies also gain insight on a future employee by sharing their corporate giving strategy. As the head of recruitment for CS&L CPAs, Aubrey Lynch admitted the importance of knowing whether a recruit will be a good match for the company based on this one telling question.

Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company addresses the crowd on making educated structured giving via trusts. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company addresses the crowd on making educated structured giving via trusts. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

When cultivating a giving culture and workforce, we shouldn’t be thinking just of the demographic for those being hired, we should start with the very young. “I recently brought my young boys to a local food bank to volunteer,” said Kelly Caldwell. “We want to keep our kids here and fostering a giving nature in them is so important for our future.”

Of all that we learned, we can’t wrap up this post without mentioning a quote that very simply and eloquently summed up the entire morning. Panelist Lisa Krouse said, “Generosity binds people.” In a packed room full of philanthropists, business executives and everyone in between, she couldn’t have been more right. The generosity of Sarasota has a way of binding our community in a way like no other shared interest. It has the power to bind employees and give them a sense of pride for that they do and who they work for, and it has the power to fill a room with people who care about giving back – even at 7:30 in the morning.

Guests listen to the panel discussion at SB2. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Guests listen to the panel discussion at SB2. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

The SB2 series is loyally supported by The Resort at Longboat Key Club, CS&L CPAs and The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The keynote speaker for The Art of Corporate Philanthropy was supported through a sponsorship by MGB Homes. Special thanks to our panelists who spoke so candidly about their giving initiatives and to Connie Smith for her diligent work on behalf of Wells Fargo for enriching the state through impactful corporate giving.

Representatives from SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Representatives from SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

To view a gallery of photos from the event, click here. Tickets for the full 2015-2016 SB2 Series are available online at SRQSB2.COM.

SB2: What We Learned about Helping People

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SB2: Helping People panelists, from L to R: Erin McLeod, Sonia Santiago, SRQ Publisher Wes Roberts, Event Sponsor Jaime DiDomenico, Bob Rosinsky and Tom Waters. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.

Last week, SRQ took SB2 guests on a journey into the minds, missions and hearts of some of Sarasota’s most notable charitable organizations at SB2: Helping People. Hosted at The Francis in downtown Sarasota, the discussion took a look at the big and small ways we can work together to grow a stronger community.

As the series sponsor of SB2, Bob Stanell of CS&L CPAs welcomed the crowd that gathered early on Thursday morning. As an organization, CS&L CPAs not only supports local philanthropic organizations through their accounting services, but also through partnerships with CS&L CARES, their community giving platform. “We work with some of the social service giants in our community on their finances and business decisions,” said Bob. “But when you put the people who serve in front of you, your heart will change.” Bob went on to communicate his pride in working with young people that make a difference by their desire to give back to the community.

Bob Stanell of SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs addresses attendees. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Bob Stanell of SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs addresses attendees. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Also sponsoring the event was CoolToday. The company’s fearless leader, President & CEO  Jaime DiDomenico shared the importance of taking care of people – the CoolToday 2015 initiative. Leading with a powerful video of how they do just that, Jaime moved more than a few of us to tears. “Community is a circle of life. Sometimes people use the phrase ‘pay it forward’ but really, we pay it in a circle because you never know when you’ll be the one who needs help,” said Jaime. “The way we do business is that we want our impact to be around to give back tot he community and continue the circle. The next time you’re out there and you can do a little something, you should do a little something.” He closed with a powerful image of a well-work pair of shoes belonging to a homeless member of our community and challenged everyone in the room to think differently about how we can live and give.

CoolToday President & CEO Jaime DiDomenico stressed the importance of "taking care of people." Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

CoolToday President & CEO Jaime DiDomenico stressed the importance of “taking care of people.” Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Between bites of the delicious bacon, guests heard first hand about the organizations, programs and need in our own backyard. Panelists hailed from every sector: Erin McLeod of Friendship Centers, Bob Rosinsky of Goodwill Manasota, Sonia Santiago of Sarasota YMCA and Tom Waters of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida. Our panelists were equally as passionate about helping each other as they were about the populations they served.

Here’s what we learned:

1. The need in our community are innumerable – but the organizations giving back are up for the challenge. Ask anyone: where are our biggest needs as a community and you will get an equal number of different answers. While a large spotlight is often shined on the issue of homelessness, it isn’t the only group that needs assistance. Of our panelists, each serves a different demographic and form of need.

Panelists answer questions during the moderated portion of SB2. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Panelists answer questions during the moderated portion of SB2. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Sonia Santiago of the Sarasota YMCA let us in on statistic of her organization that blew us away. Most people are familiar with the YMCA as a gym or the organization behind a multitude of youth sport programs, but they do so much more. The Sarasota YMCA one of the top performing Community Based Care organizations meeting state and federal outcomes for child welfare in the State of Florida. In our area alone, there are over 1,000 homeless children that have the same basic needs as all children–including a school to attend. Due to the transient nature of their situation, they’re often uprooted and sent to new schools with new teachers and classmates when their living arrangements change. The Sarasota YMCA has programs that ensure homeless children can stay at their current school and cultivate a sense of stability and normalcy in their lives.

Tom Waters of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida reminded us about the needs of children and adults that are differently abled. “This isn’t a group that you notice when you walk the streets of downtown,” he said, “but the need is just as great.” As children with special needs grow older and even and outlive their parents, having life skills and a safe haven are important. “Currently, we serve little ones from 6 weeks old to 87.”

Tom Waters speaks on behalf of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan.

Tom Waters speaks on behalf of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan.

2. Deciding who to help isn’t always easy.

For some organizations like Goodwill Manasota that serve numerous at-risk populations, prioritizing who to help first is not easy. When you serve multiple causes with limited resources, it takes skill and a steady sense of purpose to make the right decision.  According to Bob Rosinsky it takes a “strategic planning process that involves our team, our stakeholders and we have to prioritize.”

Tom Waters taught us a new expression in addressing this issue: Mission over Margin. Similar to understanding the best return on investment of a business decision, Easter Seals of Southwest Florida takes the idea of early intervention very seriously when allocating their funds. “For every $1.00 spent with children with special needs, it saves over $8.00 in future services for that child. That is why we invest heavily in The Lily School,” said Tom of Easter Seals’ early childhood intervention program for children who are differently abled. He went on to explain that often decisions on funding are made where the impact is great and the longterm success is evident.

Erin McLeod asks for a show of hands when addressing a major area of need in our community. Photo credit:  Wyatt Kostygan

Erin McLeod asks for a show of hands when addressing a major area of need in our community. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

3. All of us can give back. Whether we are a big business or a person looking to get involved, there’s room for more people dedicated to doing good.

When discussing the ways that we can get involved, Erin McLeod shared her experience with serving as a corporate partner years ago, “Sponsorships get old after a while. We know that. At Friendship Centers recognize the need for exposure to social responsibility–exposure to the audience we serve.” Encouraging volunteerism and undertaking projects acts as an emotional and physical connector to the people being served. Erin encouraged the audience to explore the organizations supported by their companies and get involved on a personal level.

Sonia Santiago of the Sarasota YMCA reminded us that we can be in the business of creating opportunities, “Give area teens internships and give them information out about vocations and jobs. When college is emphasized, some kids get defeated,” she said. “We focus so much on academics that sometimes we fail to point out the vocational opportunities that are out there.” At the Sarasota YMCA, various programs are in place that recognize children’s talents and interest and connect them to teachers or organizations to hone their talents.

SRQ Publisher Wes Roberts directs a question to Bob Rosinsky of Goodwill Manasota. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

SRQ Publisher Wes Roberts directs a question to Bob Rosinsky of Goodwill Manasota. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Young professionals are often the most enthused group when it comes to serving the community, but a lot of organizations don’t have events that support their busy and growing schedules. “We recently hosted an event and had a lot of young professionals in attendance. They found out about it through Facebook,” said Tom Waters.  We need to provide more episodic events that work with their schedules if we want to attract advocates that are dynamic, intelligent and look at things differently.”

4. Two mission-minded heads are better than one. 

The needs are great in our community and one organization alone cannot provide all of the solutions. New and emerging programs spanning multiple organizations will hopefully deliver a maximum amount of assistance using fewer resources by each group involved. “We recently worked on a grant for fall prevention with The Pines and Sarasota Memorial,” said Erin McLeod. The idea of pooling efforts ensures that everyone wins. As Erin said, “When another organization represented on the panel wins, we all win.”

Goodwill Manasota recently held an event in conjunction with the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, mentioned Bob Rosinsky. The “Little Black Dress” luncheon was the perfect partnership – drawing on the strength of a Goodwill Manasota event, the Girl Scouts were able to promote their mission and organization to a fresh audience. “This type of partnership is perfect to spread our Youth Ambassador Program and bring in the next generation of Goodwill supporters,” said Bob.

Representatives of CS&L CPAs at SB2 on July 23, 2015. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Representatives of CS&L CPAs at SB2 on July 23, 2015. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

It is safe to say that we couldn’t have learned the incredible things about helping people without the sponsorship of CS&L CPAs and CoolToday. Thank you for your support of SB2, but most importantly, thank you for the ways you give back and help people in our community each and every day. Your example inspires us.

Jaime DiDomenico, center, with his guests from Easter Seals of Southwest Florida and Heritage House. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jaime DiDomenico, center, with his guests from Easter Seals of Southwest Florida and Heritage House. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Special thanks to our panelists for graciously agreeing to participate in the discussion, and for taking an active role in leading the movement of service in Sarasota and beyond.

A gallery of images from SB2: Helping People is available online. The next SB2: Financial Forecast will be held on September 24, 2015 at The Francis. Special keynote speaker Jesse Panuccio will deliver a presentation on the current economic state of Florida. For tickets and more information, visit SRQSB2.com.