Reimagining the Sarasota Bayfront

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Reimagining the Sarasota Bayfront

the bay map

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:
  • 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 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:


Council Spotlight: City Priorities Council

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City Priorities Council Members go Above and Beyond!

The City Priorities Council (CPC) focuses on strategic economic development planning and partnerships that benefit the continuing revitalization of the City of Sarasota.  The CPC, currently chaired by Lee DeLieto, Jr., has over 40 members and meets on a monthly basis discussing a variety of issues like Bayfront 20:20, form based code and the pedestrian sleeve.

But what really makes the CPC incredible is the dedication and involvement of the members who use their free time and expertise to remain active in The Chamber as well as City matters. The CPC recently began publicly noticing meetings because so many members serve on various City of Sarasota advisory boards.  These boards encompass critical areas including downtown improvement, affordable housing, planning and parking.  Our members are not only involved in Chamber activities, but provide a crucial link to the local government. They act to bring information back to the CPC, to better education and inform decisions, as well as providing a business point of view to governmental decision makers.

Chris GallagherChris Gallagher, a past-chair of The Chamber a well as the CPC, has served on City and County advisory boards for 20 years.  Chris, a partner at HOYT Architects, currently serves on numerous advisory boards including the Planning Board and the Affordable Housing Committee. “Like most people in this great community of ours, I want to protect, preserve, and enhance the things that make this place so special. As Chamber members we know that protecting, preserving, and enhancing quality of life happens most powerfully in communities with robust economies.”  Chris feels it is essential that Chamber members get involved in serving on advisory boards because “they are actively involved in the daily economic life of the community and it is critical that they are a part of the conversations at the advisory board level.”

pat gannonPatrick Gannon, another CPC member, serves on the City Planning Board and the Downtown Improvement District Expansion Adhoc Committee.  Patrick also serves as President of the Downtown Sarasota Condo Association and can generally be seen at almost every city public meeting.  He remains an active member of the CPC because it “is a great way to stay abreast of what is happening in the business community as well as the local residential neighborhoods, and to understand how the needs of these groups are affected by government decisions.”

City Priority Members include: Peter Abbott, Charlie Bailey, Stefan Baron, Roger Barry, Alan Bennett, John Compton, Howard Davis, Lee DeLieto, Jr., Any Dorr, Shawn Dressler, Sean Duade, Brad Ellis, Bill English, Ethan Frizzell, Chris Gallagher, Patrick Gannon, Susan Goldstein, Norm Gollub, Michael Halflants, Eleana Hall, Greg Hall, Eileen Hampshire, Jedd Heap, Courtney Hudak, David Hutchinson, Nancy Kelly, Ronda Kitchens, Diane Lawson, Anthony Manganiello, Ronald McCollough, Richael Parisi, Michael Perkinson, Steve Queior, Ernie Ritz, Tish Scott, Tony Souza, Martin Taffel, Herb Waltzer, Renada Washington, and Robert Young.

We appreciate all of our CPC members who go above and beyond to give their time and expertise to both The Chamber and the local community.  Because of members like this, we all win!

Your Investment at Work – Talent Development

Education and Workforce


Talent4Tomorrow (T4T) is a coalition and set of initiatives working to create a ready-for-work labor force and close the gap between the labor force and the businesses’ job requirements. T4T is strongly supported by The Chamber’s Sarasota Tomorrow resources, staff, and volunteers, along with many community partners.
PrintWorking to ensure a strong workforce and close the skills gap by helping more students obtain post secondary education:

* Created 
a Local College Access Network (LCAN) to broaden opportunities for Sarasota students to learn about post secondary education pathways, as well as providing support to connect families to financial assistance programs.

* Collaborated with Sarasota Film Festival to create the first ever video contest for students focused on gaining financial aid by completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Winners will be announced in late January 2016.

*Partnered with community organizations and local leaders to create a Data Action Network, establishing a web-based report of educational and workforce data to be released in early 2016.
YPGSOJ1Engaging the future workforce to learn about career options in this region:

* Hosted the second annual State of Jobs Conference, with the Young Professionals Group in  engaging nearly 500 high school students in real-world conversations about careers options available in our region.

* Initiated the piloting of Road Trip Nation curricula at State College of Florida, which helped guide students through career exploration.

* Launched the high quality Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program, which teaches entrepreneurial skills to students 11-18 years of age
Road Trip Nation 1.JPGAdvocating for our community’s students:
* Established a partnership with the Florida College Access Network (FCAN), becoming one of the first local conveners selected to work with this new state-wide entity and resource. This partnership allows Talent4Tomorrow to be on the cutting edge of advocacy and research-based programming.

 * Worked to contribute to the FCAN goal of increasing the percentage of  Florida residents with a high-quality post-secondary degree or credential to 60% by 2025.
Thank you to all 
those engaged in Talent4Tomorrow and working to achieve its goals for educational attainment and workforce development. 

Your Investment at Work Series – Targeted Development

To look back at the progress of Sarasota Tomorrow initiatives in 2015, four issues of this Sarasota Tomorrow Insider electronic newsletter will be distributed to all Chamber members over upcoming weeks.  Each issue will focus on the major strategic components of Sarasota Tomorrow:  Targeted Development (high-lighted in this issue), Education & Workforce Development, Improving Our Business Climate  and Building on Past Sarasota Tomorrow Successes.

WebTargeted Development – Strengthening key locales
Supporting the development of core business areas.

Downtown Monthly Report Project w Dots

Our Downtown Economic Development Coordinator continues to work closely with Sarasota city staff and others promoting investment in our downtown.

* Facilitated real estate development.  Over 35 projects with an estimated construction value of $433,290,000 are currently underway or in the pipeline.

* Served on city teams for projects such as Fruitville Road enhancements and bringing new hotels to the area.

* Helped new downtown merchants with opening stores.

* Worked with companies looking to relocate to downtown.

U.S. 41 Roundabouts

The North Trail along U.S. 41 is receiving needed revitalization and economic development, advocated for by The Chamber.

* Planned a series of 10 traffic roundabouts connecting the airport and downtown, the majority of which are currently planned and partially funded.

* Advocated for our transportation priorities at the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization meetings.

* Provided economic market studies to FDOT representatives, which helped overcome their reluctance to support accelerated funding from the federal government.


Sarasota Tomorrow is playing a key role to move the Bayfront forward. This is the largest metro-downtown waterfront location planning opportunity in the state of Florida.

* Utilized top Chamber officers in the Bayfront 20:20 Coalition to improve this unique area and allocating Sarasota Tomorrow funds.

Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 is now entering its Phase III Partnership: Master Planning in order to reach its goal. This phase will involve site planning, facility planning, outreach and fundraising.

(Bayfront 20:20 includes the former Quay site, the empty G.WIZ building and 42 acres from Boulevard of the Arts to Payne Terminal surrounding the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.) Please share in expressing our gratitude to the leading firms, organizations, and individuals that have demonstrated their vision and commitment by funding and implementing the work of “S.T.”  With all your support, we will achieve the goal of the Sarasota Tomorrow initiative, which is “to secure a more prosperous future for greater Sarasota.”

Thank you Sarasota Tomorrow Investors!

Chamber Priorities from the 2015-2016 Board of Directors

Recently, your Chamber Board of Directors met to review strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities facing our member employers, our Chamber itself, and the greater Sarasota community. To stimulate their discussions, they started the work session by looking at eight trends that will affect your businesses, local organizations, and The Chamber between now and the year 2025.

BOD 2015-2016

As we approach our 95th Annual Membership Meeting and Luncheon, we reflect on success of the past year, but also look to the following priority areas and objectives for our fiscal year running from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. Continue reading “Chamber Priorities from the 2015-2016 Board of Directors”

LEAP to Louisville: a Recent Inter-County Visit with Local Leaders

Bridge 1In late-September, 35 community leaders traveled to Louisville, Kentucky as part of the Leadership Expedition to Accelerate Progress (LEAP). The trip, hosted by The Chamber’s Sarasota Tomorrow Initiative in partnership with the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, serves as an opportunity for area leadership to learn more about the successes of peer and aspirational communities that might be emulated locally. As in years past, the Sarasota delegation included elected officials, City/County staff, local for-profit and non-profit CEOs, key education leadership, and other key civic and business stakeholders.

Insights gained from past trips have helped local groups collaborate to create the successful Precision Machining program at Suncoast Technical College, explore new public art efforts, launch the Talent4Tomorrow initiative to improve our region’s educational attainment and workforce development outcomes and create the Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 effort to maximize that key area of our community.

In the sixth iteration of the inter-city best practice visit concept, Louisville was selected for the strides made in education & workforce development, waterfront reimagining, targeted cluster incubation and acceleration, place making, and tourism branding. While its economic output, unique assets, and population make the area more of an aspirational city, as opposed to a peer community, these types of areas still offer insight to numerous themes that could be adjusted to fit Sarasota’s local scale. Continue reading “LEAP to Louisville: a Recent Inter-County Visit with Local Leaders”