The purpose of the Government Issues Council (GIC) is to serve as a central convener for public policy debate and to provide leadership on key issues which protect and enhance the business climate and quality of life in the Sarasota community. This dedicated group of volunteers comes to the table with varying backgrounds, community involvement and geographical interest. They regularly show up early on the second Friday of the month to learn about emerging issues, share critical information and develop public policy on key business issues.
The GIC, chaired by Michael Beaumier from Gilbane Building Company, is comprised of over fifty Chamber members. These members come from a wide assortment of industries including law, real estate, engineering, education, nonprofits, development, transportation, manufacturing and government. Many of these members also serve on public boards, nonprofit boards and other community leadership positions.
Rarely is any issue straightforward and simple to tackle. In order to properly address critical business issues, members lend their own expertise and knowledge, assist in research and analysis, and, ultimately, develop the Chamber’s collective voice on key issues. The critical component is how it affects member businesses and topics range from jobs and economic development to transportation to education and workforce development.
The council uses a policy matrix to ensure an issue is a key business priority and that Chamber involvement will make a difference. The GIC, using this matrix, can determine what role best suits Chamber involvement – monitor the issue, support the issue or even lead the priority. Once an issue is vetted and a policy is developed, it is presented to the Board of Directors to determine final Chamber action.
Most recently, the Chamber supported the successful state legislation creating a permanent sales tax exemption for manufacturing and industrial equipment. The Florida Legislature, by making this exemption permanent will save those businesses that qualify over $80 million tax dollars per year. These same businesses can use those savings to reinvest in their business, and hire more local workers.
This council has provided an important expert point of view in the update of the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan. The GIC reviewed the plan by individual element, participated in a “deep dive” with County staff and submitted written comments. These same members will continue to attend public hearings on the plan and remain involved in the process through to completion.
These are just a few examples of how this council is working to ensure there is a voice for business in the Sarasota area. The Government Issues Council, and all the work that they do to sustain and enhance the business climate for the entire Chamber membership, is greatly appreciated.
“Serving on the Government Issues Committee is not only an effective way to stay involved in public policy issues affecting the Sarasota area but it is also an excellent avenue to give back to through The Chamber. Being a part of the council that works to ensure a positive business climate helps your business today but also builds the foundation for the businesses of tomorrow.” Michael Beaumier, 2016-2017 GIC Chair.