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.

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Get The MOST Out Of Chamber Expo

As we near Chamber Expo 2016, the largest “Business After Hours” in the area, in partnership with the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, exhibitors and attendees, alike, want to know how to get the most out of the trade show. Here are a few ways to get involved in Chamber Expo.

Exhibitors:

You’ve registered, put it on your calendar and are now preparing your booth and attend. Now what? We are here to give you some tips and feel free to use this as your checklist for the event.

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1. Get your pitch down.

Use your pitch to engage the attendees. You may have a demo or giveaways but don’t let that distract from what you’re really there to do, make connections! But, it is recommended to have a give away to invite attendees to drop off business cards for you to follow up on later.

2. Make your booth inviting.

Don’t over pack your booth with lots of inventory and large items. Leave room for people to engage with you. Try placing your table on the side or in the back of your allotted space to invite them in. And visually, sometimes, less is more with a clean, simple booth that is eye-catching. Plan it out beforehand in your office space with tape on the floor if you need!

 

3. Cut costs & not corners – know when to embellish.

When planning for a trade show, make sure you are investing in materials that you can use for the long haul that will save you money over time.

4. Follow up and evaluate.

Made some new contacts from Chamber Expo? Make sure to follow up with those people! Look for opportunities to share upcoming news on your business. Following up with those you’ve made connections with isn’t just about closing the sale, it’s about determining your return on investment. Think about referrals, retail leads, media hits, etc.

Haven’t registered for your booth yet?

Hurry, there are only a few spaces left. Contact Brittany Lamont to secure your booth today.

Attendees:

Network.

This is why you are there! Talk to everyone – even on the way to the restroom. A simple “hello” and being nice can go a long way. Meet your neighboring booths and exhibitors because you never know when or where your next referral may come from.

For Exhibitors: Don’t leave your booth unattended, you may miss your best future customer!

Engage With Exhibitors.

Drop off your business cards with exhibitors and engage with demos. Make meaningful connections with businesses across two counties! After the Expo, make sure to follow up with those you have connected with.

 


We hope that you have found this article helpful in attending & exhibiting at Chamber Expo 2016, hosted by The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. To attend, there is a $5 entrance fee at the door.

Chamber Expo 2016
November 9, 2016 | 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Bradenton Area Convention Center
One Haben Boulevard
Palmetto, Florida 34221

Sponsored by: Sam’s Club

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Visit SarasotaChamber.com for the most up-to-date Chamber Events.

Vote Sarasota for America’s Happiest Seaside Town!

The city of Sarasota has been named one of the top 10 “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns 55045036341936194312017” by Coastal Living! Now it’s our turn to rally support and vote to become the happiest seaside town in America!

Vote here (every 15 minutes) daily until midnight, Oct. 17. The winning town will be announced Jan. 11, 2017 and will be featured in the May 2017 issue of Coastal Living and the top towns will be featured in an online gallery.

Why have we been chosen?
The jubilation created from big circus fun never really left the city of Sarasota, even after the Ringling Bros. Circus moved elsewhere.

But maybe the seaside breeze, the white sand and the coastal blue green waters are more to blame. Maybe the “circus” fun never left — after all there is a large circus heritage and tradition that remains in Sarasota to this day. Or maybe the enormous catalogue of arts, dining, attractions and eco amenities have helped to contribute to the “at ease” sensation of vacationing in this Florida Gulf Coast destination!

Sarasota could be considered the definitive happy town. It’s smaller than major metropolitan cities: you can land on the tarmac of the Sarasota-Bradenton International airport and be looking out to the Gulf of Mexico on Lido Beach in a matter of minutes. It’s more cultural than any other city of its scale: with multiple professional theatres, a ballet, an orchestra, an opera and countless galleries and museums. There are more parks and acres of untouched Florida wilderness than you can imagine, not far outside the city limits. Finally, the local chefs come from all over the world and serve dishes that may be considered works of art themselves, often using ingredients from nearby local farms. What else could you ask for in a city our size?

Share your happy town photo! Get on instagram and post your photo using the hashtag #CLHappyTownSarasota and #CLHappyTown.

Vote For Sarasota Here!


Editor’s note: This article, in entirety, is the property of Visit Sarasota County. See original posting here.

Using Data to Develop Talent

Feature by Young Professionals Group Coordinator Mimi Fleck, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

Less than a month ago, people all over Sarasota County added a few extra minutes to their commutes to accommodate school zones. Area colleges filled their dorms with anxious freshmen, and parents everywhere scrambled to find folders with tabs and pockets for their child’s school supply list. While many see back to school as a new start, local community leaders were gathering all summer long to prepare Sarasota for something much more challenging.EducationFlorida is bracing for a disaster that is beginning to brew below the surface. We need talented and skilled individuals, and we need them now. Sarasota County is expected to see a job growth of nearly 30,000 jobs by the year 2020—only half of which is for the replacement of retiring boomers (Florida Department of Economic Opportunity). And while many of these jobs will require a post-secondary degree, only 40% of Sarasota County’s working age population (aged 25 and older) have obtained some college, associates, bachelors or a graduate/professional degree. This is a challenge that has deep roots. Nearly 1 in 4 of our students entering Kindergarten are not ready to learn, and 30% of our students do not demonstrate reading proficiency by 3rd grade. In a recent Chamber Member Intel survey, 60% of employers reported having difficulty filling open positions in the last 12 months, with respondents sharing that too few applicants applied and/or that the applicants lacked occupational skills. Continue reading “Using Data to Develop Talent”