Your Chamber Focusing on Education & Workforce

Friday, February 2, was deemed unofficially, “Education & Workforce Day” at The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce as we hosted two separate events both focused on connecting students to the local business community to enlighten young talent of the job opportunities in the area.

Experience Engineering Luncheon

The first event was the 3rd Annual “Experience Engineering Luncheon” at Suncoast Technical College, where 125 high school juniors and seniors met with engineers from 22 local companies to discuss career and educational pathways into engineering. The engineers, ranging in areas of specialty, also brought examples of their company’s products, diagrams, and project plans to help illustrate how they solve problems with engineering.

“We are honored to help connect students with local employers to ensure a pipeline of future workforce talent, particularly in the high demand STEM-related fields,” shared The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce President, Kevin Cooper. “It’s through the power of partnerships with great organizations like CareerEdge and Sarasota County Schools that we are able to foster the next generation of innovators for Sarasota’s future.” Todd Bowden, Superintendent of Sarasota County Schools, advised the students at the beginning of the event, “We want you to be successful in college and in your engineering programs, but we also want you to come back when you graduate. Today is about seeing that there are great engineering careers right here in Sarasota.”

The event was hosted by the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and Sarasota County Schools Career and Technical Education Program.


USFSM-Chamber Job Shadowing Event

The second event was a pilot program by USF Sarasota-Manatee and The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce to provide students with one-on-one, executive-level job-shadowing experiences with Chamber Board of Directors.

For two hours, 11 USFSM students “shadowed” local executives to learn the intricacies of their businesses, how they evolved through emerging technology, regulations and changing public attitudes, and, generally, what the executives do on a day-to-day basis.

After the session, the students and executives attended a lunch and networking event at The Chamber where the teams shared their views about the experience.

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The idea, according to Jay Riley, director of business development and engagement at USFSM, was to enhance the students’ education while providing “an authentic context” of the workplace.

Chamber President Kevin Cooper said one intention of the shadowing session was to convince students about the Sarasota-Manatee area’s many job opportunities.

“Awareness is a critical pathway to success,” he said. “We want students to be aware of the many opportunities present in Sarasota and employers to be aware of the homegrown talent emerging from our educational institutions.”

Both of these programs are examples of the ways your Chamber is connecting its members to the future workforce. Attracting and retaining talent in Sarasota is key to economic development and reducing the skills gap.

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From the President’s Desk: Decide The Date

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For nearly 100 years, your Chamber has cultivated Sarasota’s prosperity and quality of life through our members’ business leadership and action. As we enter 2018, that tradition continues. Business leadership, through The Chamber, focuses on two areas: opportunities and problems. It identifies opportunities and removes the problems that would impede them. It also identifies problems and finds opportunities to solve them. Sarasota has a problem, and we are presenting an opportunity to solve it.

The foundation of a representative democracy is rooted in the principle of voter participation. Our democracy suffers when nearly 80% of voters either do not or cannot participate. That is exactly what is happening in the city of Sarasota and the community deserves better.

For decades, the city of Sarasota has held its municipal elections in the spring of odd-numbered years. Those elections tend to draw a voter turnout at or around 20%. During ordinary elections, the turnout is two or three times that.

In the last city election, held in May of 2017, just less than 23% of city voters participated. In the last general election, held in November of 2016, almost 72% of city voters participated. More than 18,000 additional ballots were cast by city voters during the ordinary election.

Interestingly, the city pays additional dollars to hold these off-cycle elections. Each spring election costs the city upwards of $100,000. The city can participate in ordinary, fall elections for free. Business principles wouldn’t have you paying for less than what you could otherwise get for free, and our community shouldn’t either.

Furthermore, what the data shows us is that special, spring elections have a dilutive effect on certain subsets of voters. Along with an overall increase in voter participation, a move to ordinary election cycles would see a significant increase in the composition amongst African-American, Hispanic, and under-30 voters.

In order to move elections to coincide with ordinary elections, the issue must be placed on a ballot for voters to decide whether or not they would like to move the dates. In order for voters to be given that opportunity, 10% of voters must petition the city to do so. It is that opportunity that we are seeking to provide through the Decide the Date initiative. Alongside a number of community partners, we are diligently working to deliver voters the opportunity to choose when they wish to participate in local elections.

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It is through your Chamber that this community can work towards being proud of its civic engagement. That, after all, is a quality of life issue and your Chamber stands at the forefront cultivating our quality of life. I encourage you to visit DecideTheDate.com for information and updates on this critical, community initiative. I ask that you reach out to me with any questions you might have. I hope that you will find ways to further support your Chamber as we seek to solve this problem.

Kevin Cooper, Chamber President


The article is taken from the January 2018 Bridge Magazine.

To read more from this issue, click here.

January 2018

5 Tips to Get The Most Out Of Your Chamber Membership in the New Year!

A chamber of commerce membership is oh-so-much more than just an “I’m a proud member!” sticker to put on the front door of your business. Member benefits like website listings, participation in exclusive promotions, invites to chamber events, and more put you at the forefront of the community when you’re a member of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

But Chamber membership is a two-way street. While there are certain benefits you’ll receive year after year with your membership — interactive listings on our website, printed listing in The Chamber directory, invites to events, etc. — there is certainly a way to get more bang for your buck no matter what investment level you come in at. Let us highlight a few ways to get the most out of your membership.

1.) Attend Chamber Events

This one is a pretty obvious membership benefit that often goes overlooked by many. While we understand that you won’t be able to attend EVERYTHING with the dozens of networking events, workshops, and lunches we hold throughout the year, it doesn’t hurt to show up to an event once or twice if your schedule allows. This is a great way to get your name out there and to meet other business professionals in our community. Chamber events aren’t open to business owners or management only – staffers, please come!

2.) Interact with us on Social Media

Want to know a great way to get a conversation rolling online? Tag us in your posts! We’re active on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram to name a few. Chances are if you tag us in a photo or post, we’ll give you some social media lovin’ back. That means more interaction for your profile, and for The Chamber. Win-win!

3.) Post on our Website

With your Chamber membership comes exclusive access to sarasotachamber.com for you to post events, coupons, job postings and more. Use this access – you pay for it! The Chamber fields dozens of phone calls and email traffic every week with people looking for events, jobs, and deals. We can’t offer your awesome information if we don’t have it!

4.) Submit Your News

This one goes hand-in-hand with what was previously mentioned. When you have some newsworthy information to share, send it our way in the Press Release Tool located on the website! We’re always looking to brag about the amazing things our members are doing. Whether your business recently completed a remodeling project, your staff headed out to the community for a volunteer day, your business won an award, or you have other great news to share — we want to know about it so we can share your news on our social media pages, add to the news section of our website, and send member news out in our email newsletters.

5.) Reach Out

Is there an area of your business that could really use some help? Maybe you’re looking for some creative marketing ideas or want to form partnerships with other business professionals in town. Whatever it may be, always be sure to reach out to us here at The Chamber to see if we can help make some connections. If we don’t have immediate answers, just give us some time to think about things and point you in the right direction.

If there are any membership benefits that you have questions about or think that you might be under-utilizing, give us a call or set up a meeting! We want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your investment. Utilizing your membership benefits makes your business, our organization, and our community stronger.


If you have any questions about getting the most out of your membership, we want to hear from you! Please feel free to call Craig McGonigal, our Membership Engagement Manager at The Chamber at 941-556-4034 or shoot him an email at cmgonigal@sarasotachamber.com.

Small Business Award Nominations are LIVE!

Do you know of a deserving local business member you would like to nominate for a small business award? Follow the link below to nominate a member for this prestigious honor. The six categories include:

Health Care & Wellness Organization of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Hospitality & Tourism Organization of the Year

Sponsored by:

SRQ-Airport-for-print

Non-Profit Organization of the Year

Sponsorship Available. Contact Brittany Lamont for more information.

Products & Services Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

KB Trio Logo

Professional Services Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Retail Business Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

Shumaker Registered

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Presenting Sponsor & Top Honor Small Business of the Year

The winner of this category will be chosen from the category winners above.
Sponsored by:
Nominations for the 28th Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards will close on February 16. Applications for the Small Business Awards are available now and self-nominations are encouraged.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Nominees must be a local business with 75 employees or less and a Sarasota Chamber member in good standing.
  • Must be a member of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.
  • Must be a locally-owned and operated “bricks and mortar” business under the same ownership for a minimum of three (3) years.
Please note: Nominees MUST fill out an application to be eligible for an award. We will inform your nominee of their nomination, send them the application, but it is their choice whether or not they apply. Self-nominations are accepted.
Only ONE SUBMISSION per nominee necessary.
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To view our members please visit www.sarasotachamber.com/directory.
For information on this year’s Small Business Awards, please visit our website or contact Brittany Lamont at (941) 556-4040.

Where Our Delegation Stands

On January 9th, the Florida Legislature began it’s 2018 Regular Session. Much of what transpires over the next 60-days can have a significant impact on our region and on your business. From the bills to the budget, your elected officials are hard at work shaping next year’s path for the state of Florida. We want you to be tuned into what funding and legislation your local delegates are working on in Tallahassee this year.

Please click on the images to view a list of those current efforts:

 

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Member Tip Monday: How to Create a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy for Your Business

Social media can be a nice distraction and a considerable time suck. But if you’re doing it for your business, you need it to be much more. So how do you make sure that you’re using your time there efficiently?

This article offers you the steps you need to create a solid social media marketing strategy for actionable items.

1. Know Why You’re There

Before any campaign, whether it’s marketing, social media, or even a military campaign, it’s important to know why you’re there. What are you trying to accomplish? The answer to this will help you create the tactics that will get you there. You can’t forge a path without some idea of where you’re going.

Action item: Create 1-2 SMART goals around what you’d like to accomplish with social media for your business.

2. Understand Who You’re Trying to Reach

Marketing messaging is very personalized these days. But it’s impossible to personalize your messaging without knowing your target audience. You don’t need the world to love you. You just need to focus on those who would have a need for your product or service. And to do that, you must know who they are.

Action item: Create buyer personas so you know who you’re talking to.

3. Do Research on Your Demographic

Now that you know who they are, find out where your customers are on social media. If you’re fortunate enough to have an email list, you might be able to use emails to locate where they are online but if you don’t, take what you know about your buyer personas and match them to the demographics for each social media site.

You have a limited amount of time in your day so don’t try to be everywhere on social. You’ll likely spread yourself too thin. Instead, concentrate your efforts on where your customers and potential customers are.

Action item: Find out where your ideal customers are on social media by doing research on demographics on the most popular social media sites.

4. Create Tactics That Move You Towards Your Goals

Having goals isn’t enough in social media. Let me show you why. Let’s say your goal is to increase blog shares by 50% by the end of October 2017. That’s a nice measurable goal. It has a deadline and a number assigned to it. You can easily figure out how you would assess whether you were successful or not.

But how in the world are you going to do it?

Tactics move you towards that goal. Perhaps you will:

  • Post more frequently changing from once a week to every day.
  • Share your content to a newly-formed LinkedIn group.
  • Ask for the shares.
  • Approach 5 industry influencers every Tuesday.
  • Start accepting guest blog posts and asking them to share their posts with their network.

There are many ways to get there. You just need to choose a few and get to work.

Action item: Review your goals and map out tactics of how you will get there. Assign them dates, times, and ownership. If no one owns them, they won’t get done.

5. Implement and Analyze

After you have a social media plan constructed from your goal(s) and tactics targeted at your ideal customer, it’s time to take your business’ current pulse and begin tracking your work and its effectiveness towards meeting your goals. Social media is not an exact science. It requires experimentation and adjusting your path according to what you deduce about your audience’s preferences. This type of analysis is ongoing so make sure you budget in both time and money for it.

Action item: Set up Google Analytics and create social media campaigns to be able to watch how your strategy implementation is moving you towards your business goals.

Finally, get a little help from your friends. Social media is always changing. Today’s best practices could make you look like a rookie tomorrow. It’s important to stay on top of social media and assess your strategies periodically not just to ensure they are effective at helping you reach your goals but to make sure they are still best practices in the industry.

Keeping up on all of this while managing your business isn’t easy. Turn to your friends at the chamber for social media curriculum, knowledge, or assistance that can help you stay on top of changes without the time involved in researching them on your own.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Advertising Opportunities in 2018

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce provides multiple affordable visibility opportunities for our members. Advertising through The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is a great way to reach out to the business community and showcase your products and services. Two popular publications that many members find value in promoting their business through is the Chamber Buzz E-Newsletter and the Chamber Bridge Digital Magazine. The SarasotaChamber.com website offers banner ad space throughout the website to build your visibility.

The Chamber Buzz E-Newsletter

Published each Monday, reaches over 4,500 business people in the Greater Sarasota area on a weekly basis. The Chamber Buzz highlights Chamber news and events.

Buzz Ad Example

Chamber Buzz Ad Rates

The Chamber Bridge Magazine

Our quarterly digital publication distributed to 5,000 business professionals in the area. The Bridge highlights Chamber member benefits, photos of events and recognizes members accomplishments. View the Bridge Magazine here.

bride ad example

Bridge Magazine Ad Rates

Website Advertising

The Chamber’s website receives 10,000 visits per month making it a highly visible and trafficked area for advertisers. Whether you are looking to connect with other Chamber members or visitors coming to the area this is a great way to expand your reach.

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Website Ad Rates


If you are interested or have questions regarding Chamber Advertising, please contact Brittany Lamont at blamont@sarasotachamber.com or 941-556-4040.