Welcome to The Chamber Team, John Vitolo!

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John Vitolo joins us as our new Membership Investment Representative, responsible for bringing in new Chamber members and connecting members with advertising opportunities. John’s career began in New York’s magazine industry, marketing publications such as Good Housekeeping, Bon Appétit, and Condé Nast Traveler; he also spent time in Boston, MA with Yankee Magazine.

In 2007, John made his way to Sarasota with Miles Partnership, representing advertising programs for travel destinations such as Visit Florida, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. Both John and his wife are graduates of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The Vitolo’s have three children; 26, 21, and 11 and they reside in Sarasota.

You can contact John at jvitolo@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4058.

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For Third Straight Year, Sarasota County Schools Lead State in Pell Grant Pursuit

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The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, a collective impact team of local organizations focused on increasing college and credential attainment in Sarasota County, announces that the Sarasota County School District has been recognized as having the highest FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion rate in the state, according to the Florida College Access Network (FCAN). This is the third year in a row that Sarasota County has been named number one in the state for “Large Districts” in FCAN’s annual Florida FAFSA Challenge.

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Completing the FAFSA is the first step to accessing financial aid for college, as well as a leading indicator of college attendance. But research indicates that Florida high school graduates leave behind over $100 million in federal Pell Grants alone by not completing the form. Through targeted efforts developed by Talent4Tomorrow in partnership with the school district, 47.8% of Sarasota County high school seniors completed the FAFSA as of March 31, 2018. According to FCAN, the incremental increase in FAFSA completion over the last two years has resulted in approximately $800,000 in additional Pell grants available for Sarasota County graduates to pursue their higher-education goals, with the average student award approximately $4,000.

“The Talent4Tomorrow initiative demonstrates an example of a true collaboration between a broad range of organizations coming together for a common goal – the future of our community’s youth.  The Chamber believes strongly in this alliance and the outcomes are a testament to the strength and commitment that the partners bring to the table,” said Kevin Cooper, President of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce which serves as the ‘backbone’ organization for Talent4Tomorrow.

Innovative Strategies

Talent4Tomorrow partners worked with the District to implement several strategies that assisted graduating high school seniors and their families with completing the financial aid form. Talent4Tomorrow hosted FAFSA labs at high schools, with support from local college financial aid officers and other community volunteers, to assist students and their parents in the application process. It also implemented a communications plan to raise awareness about FAFSA that included flyers, text messages, emails, classroom visits, morning announcements, outreach to youth-serving partners and the faith-based community, press releases, and social media posts.

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The Partnership developed some new techniques this year, such as the innovative use of Snapchat geofilters, introduced by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative and piloted at Booker High School. A geofilter is similar to a frame or sticker that can go on a Snapchat photo and is shared with the user’s friends. An organization or individual pays to have the filter available in Snapchat for a specific location and period of time. With approval from the school, the electronic FAFSA lab filter was made available in the cafeteria for the students. On lab day alone, the filter was swiped by 367 students, and 64 of them posted these framed photos on their account, which resulted in 2,900 views of the FAFSA filter.

According to FCAN, Booker High School had the second-highest completion rate improvement in the District compared to last year, with a 9% increase.  The Snapchat strategy was seen as a positive application of a platform used by students daily. The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership plans to expand the use of this social media tool next year and will continue to look for ways to engage and connect with students on the value of completing the FAFSA.

Support for these programs and events comes from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with matching funds from the Florida Philanthropic Network through its College Access & Success Initiative (CASI), which is supported by the Helios Education Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

More information about FCAN and the FAFSA Challenge Winners is available here.


About the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership

Talent4Tomorrow was launched by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce in 2013 to cultivate a competitive regional workforce by developing a talent pipeline for area students to enter local jobs that are in high demand. Initially a broad-based regional business and education collaborative, it has since sharpened its focus on improving college attainment for Sarasota County youth. It serves as Sarasota’s “Local College Access Network,” or LCAN, coordinating the diverse efforts of a team of community partners to increase college and career preparation, access, and completion. It is one of nine such regional groups, representing 22 counties, aligned with the statewide Florida College Access Network (FCAN). Leadership of the collaborative includes the following organizations: Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County School District, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, UnidosNow, and United Way Suncoast. Additionally, more than 30 other nonprofits, businesses, and educational institutions participate as implementation partners, making it possible to deliver programs and services to students and their families.

Reimagining the Sarasota Bayfront

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Reimagining the Sarasota Bayfront

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The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO) is working to fulfill the community’s vision for a blue and green oasis – a connected and culturally vibrant waterfront – created for and open to everyone as a lively new gathering space. After 5 years of public input from Sarasota residents, The Bay is now on its way to becoming an exciting destination where local residents can meet up.

We’re working on a plan – right now!

SBPO is leading the creation of a comprehensive, long-term master plan for our one-of-a-kind Bayfront that delivers on your expectations with a plan that is financially feasible, operationally do-able, and environmentally sustainable. A plan that delivers on your expectations and the adopted Community Vision and Guiding Principles below.

Over 3,000 community residents have weighed in so far with their ideas about what should happen at The Bay.

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What’s Next?

Join the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO) in April as Sasaki shares three design options for The Bay’s future! These options build on community feedback in February and the desired future activities along The Bay. Though each design will be different, all three will combine nature and environment, arts and culture, and recreation and boating opportunities into one spectacular place that is welcoming to all.

April Public Open House Times with Sasaki Design Team:

  • Robert L Taylor Community Complex – 1845 John Rivers St (Formerly 1845 34th St) Tuesday, April 17, 2018
    5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Van Wezel Grand Foyer – 777 North Tamiami Trail
    Wednesday, April 18, 2018
    8:30 AM – 10:30 AM or 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
  • Herald-Tribune Community Forum – Sarasota Orchestra Hall
    Wednesday, April 18, 2018
    5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

It’s Not About Voting for a Winner…

The purpose of the upcoming meetings is to share the three options and gather your input about which aspects of each appeal to you as well as feedback about what is missing. It’s not about voting for a winner; we will take all your feedback and use it to create a desired master plan for the site. The draft plan will be shared at the next community meetings in late May and will incorporate ideas from the different options.

Tell Us What You Want!

Like the February meetings, we will also launch an online survey with identical questions you’ll see at the open houses. The survey will close on April 27, 2018.
We hope to see you in April! Please help spread the word to your friends and neighbors, too.

How You Can Be a Part of It

  • Learn more about The Bay opportunity: www.thebaysarasota.org
  • Share your ideas: Attend our April open houses and tell us what you think
  • Attend SBPO Board Meetings (1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month)
  • Participate in community get-togethers and meetings
  • Help us schedule speakers for events and meetings to share news
  • Join in the dialogue via www.TheBaySarasota.org and on social media
  • Volunteer as we partner with other organizations on Bayfront events
  • Any combination of the above!

Contact The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO) with any additional ideas or if you have any questions: info@thebaysarasota.org.

 

Celebrate Outstanding Leadership Awards Honorees

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Leadership Sarasota County, a program of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, will host the annual Celebrate Outstanding Leadership Awards on Tuesday, May 8, at 11:30 a.m. at the new Art Ovation Hotel. Awards will honor influential graduates of the Leadership Sarasota County program in three categories: Lifetime of Leadership, Impact In Action, and Leadership Sarasota Dedication. The honorees were nominated by fellow Leadership Sarasota County Alumni members.

For reservations for the Celebrate Outstanding Leadership Awards Luncheon, click here or contact Barbara Hines, (941) 556-4026, if you have any questions.


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W.E. “CHIP” GAYLOR

Lifetime of Leadership Award Honoree

Chip Gaylor is a partner in the law firm of Muirhead, Gaylor, Steves, & Waskom P.A. He received his B.A. from Asbury College, his J.D. from the Washington College of Law at the American University and his LL.M. from the University of Miami Law School. He is a member of the Florida Bar Association and Sarasota County Bar Association and is a member of the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section of both bar associations, and past Chair of the Sarasota County Bar section. He currently serves as President of the Sarasota County Bar Association.

Attorney Gaylor served on the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Inc., and was Chair from 1995 to 1997. His law firm currently serves as general counsel to the Foundation. He joined the New College Library Association Board in 1998 and was elected President for two terms in 2000. In 2003 he was elected to the board of the New College Foundation and served until 2014. Continue reading “Celebrate Outstanding Leadership Awards Honorees”

Sarasota Film Festival Celebrates 20 Years

This year we celebrate our 20th Anniversary of the Sarasota Film Festival.  The 10-day festival will showcase 90 features, 131 shorts and will take place in Downtown Sarasota from April 13 – 22, 2018.

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Our In Conversation With series features in-depth interviews with Eric Stoltz whose award-winning feature Class Rank will open the SFF, Oscar-nominated Virginia Madsen, seasoned actor Steve Guttenberg and Academy Award-nominated director, producer and philanthropist Rory Kennedy.

The educational program will expand this year with the introduction of the 20 Hour Film Contest. As in our past festivals, we continue to provide programming of, by, and for students within the Sarasota-Manatee region.

This year’s special edition poster was designed by local Kelsey Hunt-Dolan, a graduate of New College of Florida.  The iconic statue of David, which serves as the city’s official symbol and the Roman numerals “XX” on the poster commemorates the 20 year anniversary of the festival.

For more information and tickets to the 20th Anniversary Sarasota Film Festival, please visit www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.

Sarasota Chamber Reaffirms Focus on Education and Workforce with Development of Chief Workforce Strategist Position

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce has announced the hire of Mireya Eavey to fill the newly created role of Chief Workforce Strategist. The hire reaffirms The Chamber’s long-standing strategic posture to support education and workforce development in the community. In her role with The Chamber, Eavey will greatly broaden and expand the organization’s education and workforce support programming.

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“This is an exciting and logical extension of the many years of work we, as an organization and community, have invested in,” said Chamber President|CEO Kevin Cooper. “If I could have chosen anyone to further The Chamber’s efforts in this area, it would have been Mireya. I hope our membership and the community-at-large is just as excited as I am.”

Prior to joining The Chamber, Eavey was Sarasota Area President for United Way Suncoast where she provided strategic and operational direction for all Sarasota and DeSoto area United Way community programs. During her tenure with United Way Suncoast, Eavey maintained her service as managing the team of CareerEdge Funders Collaborative. In the capacity of her new position with The Chamber, Eavey will continue her leadership role with CareerEdge, to provide an exceptional labor force to the region’s growing industries by leveraging community assets and forming high-performing workforce partnerships.

Career Edge

Said Mireya Eavey, “I grew up in Sarasota County, raised my family, pursued my career, and have advocated for both workforce and economic improvement for the community. To work in a formal capacity alongside The Chamber team, where I’ll support a thriving workforce community is not only my passion, I feel it is my purpose.”


For more information or questions on the integration of CareerEdge and the addition of Mireya, please contact Kevin Cooper at kcooper@sarasotachamber.com.

7 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Small Business

Grow your small business with LinkedIn by using these seven proven tactics.

There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, but only half of them will make it past five years. To ensure your small business is in the successful half, we encourage you to capitalize on the various ways LinkedIn can evolve your business.

With LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you can generate leads, produce sales, and hire top professionals to fuel your growth. Here are seven ways to grow your business using LinkedIn:

  1. Create a LinkedIn Company Page

We’ve found that LinkedIn members are 50% more likely to buy once they’ve engaged with your business on LinkedIn. But they can’t connect with you if you don’t have a LinkedIn Company Page. According to Forbes, only 57% of companies have pages. The remaining 43% are missing out on a free opportunity to generate leads, talent, and, ultimately, revenue.

If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn Company Page. Personal profiles don’t have the same marketing, advertising, and recruiting features as Company Pages, making them less effective at promoting your business. As you create your page, think about the kind of impression you want to create among potential customers and employees. This will help you select the right photos and messages to use on your page.

For a step-by-step guide on how to create an above and beyond Company Page, view our LinkedIn Company Page Best Practices.

  1. Promote Your Company Page

Once you have a Company Page, announce it to your clients, employees, and personal network. This will help you gain your first followers, who in turn will help to promote your Company Page on the content you post to it.

Promoting your page on other platforms or via email is also a great way to grow your audience. Here are some simple ways to get the word out:

  • Announce the launch of the Company Page on your personal LinkedIn profile
  • Encourage employees to follow the Company Page by making it a part of your onboarding process—Social Media Today reports that content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement as brand shared content
  • Link to your Company Page in the footer of your marketing emails or newsletters
  • Embed a Company Follow button on your website so visitors can easily follow your LinkedIn Company Page
  1. Share Content Regularly

The more you post, the more people you can potentially reach and convert. Best-in-class LinkedIn Company Pages are consistently updated to ensure that visitors have plenty of new content to consume and share.

To get started, try posting at least once per week. It’s not uncommon for companies to post three or more times per day. Post whenever you have something worth saying. Posting consistently shows Company Page visitors that your company is active on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn’s Company Page analytics to see your top performing updates, your best times to post, and which members of your audience are the most engaged. With this information, it’s easy to make data-driven decisions to optimize your Company Page content.

In addition to posting often, here are a few more stats to help you boost engagement:

  • Posts with links receive up to 45% more engagement
  • Images see an incredible 98% increase in engagement
  • Posts that have relevant “best-of” lists get almost 40% more amplification

When a post gets good engagement, consider promoting it to a wider audience with LinkedIn Sponsored Content. Take the Sponsored Content Tour and discover how Sponsored Content amplifies your best content.

  1. Showcase Thought Leadership

Seventy-nine percent of buyers say thought leadership is critical for determining which companies they want to learn more about. To get started with thought leadership content, try to provide a unique perspective on your industry, product, or organization. Sharing your opinion on the future of your industry or creating a definitive guide to your product are just two ways to demonstrate your expertise and position your company as a credible partner.

For more ideas and advice on expanding your brand’s authority, download our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership to learn more.

  1. Target Sales Prospects

LinkedIn has over 500 million users to date. That may seem like a lot to sort through, but LinkedIn also provides you with tools to identify and target your ideal audience.

LinkedIn members are more likely than other social media users to keep their profiles up-to-date, making it easier for you to find the right people. Use LinkedIn profile data to search for LinkedIn members based on geographic location, education, experience, and even connections. Once you’ve found prospects using the search feature, visit their profiles. Their endorsements or recent profile views might surface additional qualified prospects, too.

For more ways to reach your ideal audience, learn how to advertise on LinkedIn.

  1. Build an All-Star Team

LinkedIn has helped 75% of job switchers make informed career decisions, making LinkedIn a top recruiting network. What are candidates looking for when making those decisions? Our research shows that 66% of candidates want to see company culture over everything else. To take advantage of this preference, consider enhancing your Company Page with a LinkedIn Career Page.

Career Pages allow you to target audiences with a personalized look into your company, culture, and career opportunities. They give you dedicated Life and Career Information Tabs on your Company Page that attracts and engage relevant professionals.

In addition to creating Career Pages, encourage employees to share job postings and “day in the life” content as well. This gives visitors a genuine idea of what it’s like to work for you and adds to your authenticity. If you have a few employees who lead the pack in sharing content, consider linking them to your Company Page’s Life Tab. Their shared articles and recent updates will automatically populate, providing visitors with up-to-date information. Watch our video below on how to use the Life Tab to attract the right talent for your company.

When building an all-star team make sure to do a salary comparison to help with hiring decisions.

  1. Hire Freelancers

You’ve probably had an employee who took on a task outside of their domain. You might have even done it yourself a few times. While the effort is commendable, learning on the fly can also be detrimental.

Fortunately, finding the right talent for the task at hand isn’t as tricky as it once was, even if you can’t afford the salary of a full-time employee.

LinkedIn ProFinder enables you to post your projects, receive free proposals, and hire trustworthy professionals all in one place. ProFinder will even pair you with local professionals to ensure you have the best experience possible. With 172 professional services available on ProFinder, it’s easy to find the perfect professional for any task.

LinkedIn vets all the professionals on the platform to ensure they are qualified and leverages your network to find entrepreneurs your connections have used, so you’re never in the dark about who you’re hiring.

By encouraging entrepreneurship, you get access to outside perspectives & broad experience of professionals of all kinds, from creating websites and designing logos to managing your books or crafting your marketing strategy. Plus, with none of the management or competitive salary overhead of a full-time employee, you can focus solely on the job at hand.


Article by LinkedIn Careers