A Big Thanks to the Government Issues Council!

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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.

Beaumier WEBThe 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.

Group Spotlight: Young Professionals Group

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The heart of any organization is their volunteers. The Sarasota Young Professionals Group (YPG), a program of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, is no different. The YPG Board Members and member volunteers give their time through organizing various YPG events, building strategic partnerships within the community, and creating opportunities for YPG members to engage with one another in meaningful ways.

One initiative of the YPG Board has been to gather data on issues affecting Sarasota’s young professionals. In fall 2015, YPG’s Government Issues committee created a survey on attainable housing, and the results have spurred a community-wide conversation regarding housing needs for young professionals. Media, such as ABC 7, The Observer, and ABC Action News in Tampa have reported on the survey’s findings, and local developers have reached out to request additional data. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers in the YPG Government Issues committee, YPG is able to be a resource for this critical information by gathering, analyzing, and communicating data.

Young professionals are often known for working hard and playing hard, but we’ve witnessed how much they also care about the community. This year, YPG volunteers have given back hundreds of hours to organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Suncoast, Habitat for Humanity, the Sarasota Music Half Marathon, Girls Inc., and Easter Seals of Southwest Florida.

The Young Professionals Group Board includes: Michael Calamaras, Ashley Leon, Chris Laney, Adam Angstadt, Mimi Chenyao, Sean Duade, Kayla Escobar, David Ford-Coates, Anna Foster, Amelia March, Avarie Hannah, Adam Hughes, Andrea Knies, Sam Lowry, Kelly Martella, Shantel Norman, Travis Rossnagle, Raymmar Tirado, and Rob Young.

For more information on getting involved in the Sarasota Young Professionals Group, please contact YPG Coordinator, Mimi Cirbusova, at mfleck@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4038.