2017 Small Business Awards Finalists Announced!

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On Friday, June 2, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce will honor six businesses at the 2017 Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m and one as Top Honor Small Business of the Year.

In its 27th year, The Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards recognizes member businesses and individuals with locally owned and operated business in six categories. Named in honor of the late Frank G. Berlin, Sr., whose legacy in the community and untiring support of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce epitomized the hopes and dreams of contemporary business entrepreneurs. We thank the Berlin Foundation for lending his name and financial support to our Small Business Awards program.

This year’s finalists include:

Health & Wellness Organization of the Year
Sponsored by: Lakewood Ranch Medical Center 
Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center
Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota
Thomas A. Bowles, D.D.S., P.A.
Hospitality & Tourism Organization of the Year
Sponsored by: Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
Marina Jack – Marina Operations
Mixon Fruit Farms
Tableseide Restaurant Group
Non-Profit Organization of the Year
Sponsored by: Kerkering, Barberio & Co.
Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC)
Suncoast Blood Bank
Van Wezel Foundation, Inc.
Products & Services Business of the Year
*Award Sponsorship Available*
Canada Med Services
Coast to Coast Pools
Gilbert Design Build
Professional Services Business of the Year
Sponsored by: Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Caldwell Trust Company
J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp.
Hall Architects, P.A.
Retail Business of the Year
Sponsored by: Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
DutchCrafters
Millennium Shutters
Sunshine Baskets
The Top Honor Small Business of the Year will be selected from the winners of each category. The Top Honor Small Business of the Year is presented by the
Herald-Tribune Media Group.


For Sponsorship and Ticketing information, please visit our website or contact Brittany Lamont at (941) 556-4040.

“See and Be Scene” at Sarasota Film Festival

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The Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) is recognized as a world-class platform for thought-provoking films from some of the best-known and emerging independent voices. Although the Sarasota Film Festival is one of nearly 850 film festivals in North America, they continually rank in the top ten percent.

In February, the Sarasota Film Festival unveiled their new campaign artwork created by Tyler Mathis, a Motion Design student at Ringling College of Art and Design. The annual celebration of film returns to Downtown Sarasota March 31st – April 9th, and the theme is a multidimensional play on words: See & Be Seen, Sea & Be Seen, and See & Be Scene. “For that reason, we are excited to share an artwork triptych, each of which captures the different iterations. Which one is your Festival?”

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This year’s Festival will welcome some celebrity star power, as well. Oscar-nominated actor Stanley Tucci, Golden Globe-nominated actress Rosanna Arquette, actress Diane Lane, documentarian Rory Kennedy and actress-filmmaker Aisha Tyler are set to attend this year’s festival.

For more information and tickets to the Sarasota Film Festival, please visit their website here!


The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is a Proud Supporter of the 2017 Sarasota Film Festival!

 

Welcome Megan Neal & Darlene Martin to The Chamber Team!

We are pleased to announce the addition of two new staff members to The Chamber Team! 

Megan Neal croppedMegan Neal joins us as our new Membership & Events Coordinator. Megan will assist the Membership Team as the go-to person for your event and member related questions. She is the friendly face you will see at registration and at our upcoming networking events. Raised in Sarasota, she spent most of her days growing up on our gorgeous Gulf beaches and is a graduate of the University of South Florida. Outside of her professional pursuits, she spends her time writing, enjoying time with her wonderful husband, traveling to her favorite Disney parks, and being a proud aunt to 17 beautiful nieces and nephews.

“As a true Sarasotan, it’s rewarding to be at the forefront of the growth and development that is flourishing throughout our amazing community. I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve an organization that truly looks towards bringing together a greater good within our city and am excited to dive into my role here at the Chamber!”

You can contact Megan at mneal@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4031.


Darlene Martin croppedDarlene Martin joins us as our new Membership Investment Representative, responsible for bringing in new Chamber members. Hailing from New York originally and growing up in Atlanta, GA. Darlene is a graduate of Kennesaw State University in Georgia with an associate’s degree in Business Administration and comes to us with over two decades of sales and business-to-business experience working to increase value to customers. She resides in the Sarasota/Bradenton area and enjoys the beaches, water and practicing hot yoga for the past 5 years.

“From being a member of The Chamber in my past role, I am excited to be an ambassador in the community to new and existing businesses in the Greater Sarasota area!”

You can contact Darlene at dmartin@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4029.


Please join us in welcoming Megan & Darlene to The Chamber team. We are excited to have both of them onboard!

Meet Our Members: Show Management

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Give us a brief history of your business/organization.

In 1976, Show Management opened its doors and became the producers of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. The company now produces five boat shows each year along with hundreds of special events throughout the year. Specializing in event production, Show Management has made the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Yachts Miami Beach, formerly the Miami Yacht & Brokerage Show, and the Palm Beach Boat Show, three of the World’s largest in-water boat shows, and the St. Petersburg Boat Show and Suncoast Boat Show in Sarasota, two of the Gulf Coast’s largest in-water boat shows.

How long have you been in business?

Since 1976.

In a nutshell, what does your business provide its customers/clients?

The Show Management Convention Services division offers a full line of decorating and material handling services for consumer and trade show exhibits, including customized floor plans, booth furnishings, storage, and shipping. The Show Management Concessions division manages event food, beverage, and live entertainment services.

Currently Show Management consists of five divisions to better serve the event industry. The two divisions that manage and produce boat shows, offer floating docks and a full line of clearspan tents from 60′ to 165′ in width are Yachting Promotions, Inc. and Yachting Promotions Gulf, Inc.

What are your business/organization’s core values, goals, and overall mission?

The company now produces five boat shows each year along with hundreds of special events throughout the year. Show Management is actively seeking new venues for additional boat shows in the future.

The 35th Annual Suncoast Boat Show takes place in downtown Sarasota on April 21-23, 2017, at Marina Jack’s, #2 Marina Plaza, Sarasota, FL 34236. Enjoy the great outdoors while pricing and comparing hundreds of boats from the Gulfcoast’s leading boat dealers. See various types and styles all in one place. Cruisers, Runabouts, Bowriders, Sportfishers, Center Consoles, Motor Yachts, Inflatables and more. Shop tents full of electronics, accessories, jewelry, art and clothing all in a festive atmosphere with food, drinks, music and much more. Plenty of downtown parking. Visit www.showmanagement.com for more information or to purchase tickets!


For more information about Show Management, visit their website, follow Show Management on Facebook and Twitter.

Your business or organization could be featured in The Chamber Buzz. “Meet Our Members” is a member spotlight feature on The Chamber Buzz blog and e-newsletter, showcasing our member businesses, their products, and services. To be considered for the spotlight, simply complete this form.

SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T OPTIONAL: WHY YOU NEED TO START TODAY

If you have too many customers and you can’t keep up; if your business’ revenue streams are more like Tsunamis, social media is optional for your business. If not, you need to embrace it today. Here’s why:

We are a very mobile society. Businesses can’t count on the foot traffic they once did or people just driving by and stopping in. We’re in our cars, going to the next appointment at lightning speed. There’s no time to just drop into a new store or business.

Social Media Establishes Know, Like and Trust

social-media-isnt-optionalIf you sell something that no one else does and people feel like they absolutely must have it, then forget about social media because you needn’t establish know, like and trust. For everyone else, it’s essential in the sales process. Someone buying from you must first know that you exist, then wants to like you/your company before doing business with you, and finally, they need to trust that you are providing a worthwhile product or service that is of good quality or value. Without those three very important things, you won’t be very effective in today’s non-ad-driven marketplace.

There’s good news and bad news about how consumers make decisions today. The good news is your business can stand out with very little money investment. You don’t need radio or television to make an impression anymore. There are millions of people you can reach through social media. However, the bad news is you can’t blast them with your marketing message and expect them to respond by pulling out their wallets. Now you have to develop a connection with them and establish “know, like, and trust.” This takes time. Old marketing success took money.

Your Content Gives Buyers Something They Need

When you share helpful, valuable content on social media you do more than establishing know, like, and trust. You provide helpful resources for customers who are trying to make decisions (and you can influence them through providing the much-needed help, particularly in a long buying cycle) and you give them social currency.

Just as you want to provide content your audience finds valuable, so do your customers. There’s a lack of great content out there. It’s hard to find it and there’s an unquenchable need. When you provide content your audience enjoys and thus shares, you become a source for them to build up, and meet the needs of, their tribe as well.

This makes your audience feel good because their tribe appreciates what they’ve shared. You’re making your customer (or potential customer) look good. That’s something they will remember and keeps your business being on your customer’s mind.

Social Media Is No Longer Mere Entertainment

facebook-demographicsIf you have been ignoring the social webs because you think it’s all pictures of gourmet meals and cat videos, you’re in for a surprise. 88% of Millennials (Millennials are the largest generational cohort in the history of the US and make up a quarter of the population currently) get their news from Facebook. While this may be a little disconcerting for some of us, the fact remains and speaks to the importance of social media in the lives of so many.

If you think social media is only for the young, think again. 72% of adult Internet users use Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center. 62% of the entire adult population in the US uses Facebook. Why aren’t you on it again? Before you answer, take a look at the chart of Facebook demographics.

Social Media Establishes a Connection

Today’s buyers want to feel a connection with the companies they do business with. From being involved in R&D to voting on names for new products, from selecting new flavors to supporting a larger cause, people want to “feel” something about the brands they support.

You can’t meet every one of your customers. You can’t take them out to coffee and get to know them because it doesn’t scale. As much as you may have an interest in them, it’s not possible to form personal, one-on-one relationships with each, but you can reach them en masse and make them feel like they know you and your business.

Social media allows you to give them a better look at who you are by setting a tone for your business and telling your business story. It also allows you to celebrate your customers in a way traditional marketing can’t. You have the opportunity to reach them all-day long, every day with content they will find value in for no more money than that associated with your time.

Social media isn’t a passing fad. It’s a business necessity today. If you’re not meeting your customers’ needs on social media, you can bet there is someone out there who’s willing to take up the slack for you.

Image via Graphic Stock

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.

Your Chamber Taking the Lead on Education

Why would a chamber of commerce get involved in helping students get to college?

While it is common practice for school districts, college and universities, and education-focused organizations to participate in chamber membership, increasing postsecondary attainment rates is not typically a role chambers are thought of playing. However, your Chamber has taken a different view.Print

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce has stepped up to take a leadership role in the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership (T4T); an initiative that focuses on bridging the gap between high school graduation and postsecondary educational attainment. Working in close partnership with organizations like the Barancik Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, UnitedWay Suncoast, and UnidosNow (to name a few), The Chamber has been working over the last year to bring about new, innovative programs that help our local students go beyond high school graduation and into a postsecondary program.

One area Talent4Tomorrow has particularly targeted is FAFSA completion. Financial burdens are often cited as one of the top reasons students do not enroll in a postsecondary program. The FAFSA, or “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”, is a federal form that students must complete to receive Pell grants, most scholarships, and other types of financial aid. However, confusion and lack of awareness around this application process cause many to simply not complete the application. According to the Florida College Access Network, 59 percent of Sarasota students were eligible for Pell Grants in 2012-13, but fewer than half of them filled out FAFSA forms, resulting in more than $2 million left untapped by Sarasota County students. Ultimately, this results in fewer students entering quality educational programs that feed our local workforce needs and causes local businesses to feel the pain of seeking out qualified employees.

However, in the 2015-2016 FAFSA application cycle, the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership orchestrated a multi-faceted strategy to address the need for more students to complete the FAFSA. Thus, Sarasota County was recognized by the Florida FAFSA Challenge with awards in eight categories. Even more impressively, these efforts resulted in an additional $283,000 in Pell Grant funds being accessed by Sarasota County students. With those additional funds, many more students have been able to attend technical/trade schools, two-year degree programs, and traditional Bachelors programs. For our Chamber members, this equates to more skilled workers ready to take on important jobs for their companies.

Efforts of Talent4Tomorrow have not gone unnoticed by those around the state and the nation. Recently, T4T partners collected $62,500 in matching funds to procure a $50,000 grant from the Florida Philanthropic Network. With these grant dollars, T4T can begin to work on other barriers to postsecondary enrollment and attainment, such as college and career awareness. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is proud to be a part of this initiative, bringing the education and business communities together to help students see themselves not only in our colleges and universities but also as professionals that contribute to the future of Sarasota County.


Submission contributed by Mimi Cirbusova, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals Group Coordinator.

Congratulations Michael Kline, Chamber Ambassador of the Quarter!

Congratulations to Michael Kline, our Ambassador of the Quarter!

Michael is the 13th of 14 children born into poverty to an alcoholic father living in a michael-klinejunkyard. He lost his mother at age 7 and discovered powerful lessons about resources. His journey from junkyard to country club is proof that anyone can do anything. He became the turn-around president of a franchise company with 35 locations, then a six-time successful entrepreneur. He is a Certified Jack Canfield Success Trainer, a RIM Master, and Success Coach, working with clients here and around the world. He and his partners provide corporate training and coaching in the areas of leadership, communications and emotional intelligence. Having grown up in Orlando, Mike moved back to Florida just over a year ago with his husband Sal, after 21 years in New England.

Congratulations, Michael! We greatly appreciate the dedication that you give to The Chamber and to The Chamber Ambassadors’ program. Michael’s inviting personality and engagement through the Chamber Ambassadors with welcoming and on-boarding of new members makes him a great representative of The Chamber. Thank you, Michael, & keep up the excellent work!


For information on the Chamber Ambassadors program, please contact Megan Neal or Craig McGonigal