Siesta Key Crystal Classic Opens This Weekend!

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival starts this weekend, November 10-13, 2017. The master sculptors, coming to us from all over the world, will create sand masterpieces, some over ten feet tall, and transform the always beautiful Siesta Beach into an outdoor art gallery. These renowned artists will produce spectacular, ephemeral works of art from just sand and water.

 

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Siesta Key Crystal Classic, November 10-13

 

This year the festival will be open until 9 pm on Friday and Saturday nights with live music, lighted sculpture displays, and drinks from the party tent. Reverand Barry & The Funktastic Soul will be playing Friday night with One Night Rodeo taking the stage on Saturday night!

The festival also features live music all four days, a large shopping village, and a variety of food and drink vendors. Other activities include the “Quick Sand” speed sculpting competition, sand sculpting lessons & demos, an amateur competition, and The Learning Curve – Kid’s Art & Science Lab.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65+ and military personnel, $5 for children 5-17 and under 5 is free. See the full 2017 festival schedule on the website: www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.


The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is a proud in-kind sponsor of the Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival. 

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From The Chair’s Corner: A Legacy of Leadership

A Legacy of Leadership

I am both honored and excited to enter into my term as Chair of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. For me, this is a legacy moment in many respects. I look forward to following in not only the legacy of leadership that the Chamber has demonstrated through its many years in Sarasota, but also the legacy of leadership that my firm, Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, has demonstrated over our more than 90 years in Sarasota. It is with great pride that I follow in the footsteps of a name partner in my firm, George A. Dietz, a past Chair of the Chamber, to carry on the rich history of the Chamber in a community with an equally rich history.

 

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Chair| Charlie Bailey | Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen

 

As we look toward the year ahead, we do so with a focus on strengthening our connections – both within the community and with our membership. Your story is our story – the story of the Chamber is the story of its members. As an organization, ensuring robust layers of connection amongst our membership and bringing their businesses’ stories to life is our greatest priority. It is with that understanding that we enter this year with a tireless commitment to engage members both new and long-standing. We are setting our sights on being the voice of business in the community and focusing on the headline issues facing Sarasota. As an example, in partnership with Gulf Coast Community Foundation and SRQ Media, we are hosting Grid Un-Locked, a six-week program series featuring expert-led workshops which explore the facts, plans, and future of transportation in Sarasota.

We also are pleased to officially welcome Visit Sarasota County as they relocate Sarasota County’s Official Visitor Center to the Chamber of Commerce building on Fruitville Road. We are confident that this partnership will benefit both organizations, our community, and visitors to our beloved area.

We are proud to be an organization for those who are as focused on doing business as they are on where they do business. Your Chamber is here to support, promote, and connect its membership and the greater Sarasota area. We want your experience to be professionally and personally rewarding. As Chair, I can certainly say my experience has been nothing less, and I am committed to making sure yours is as well. I encourage you to stay connected with me throughout this year and I look forward to continuing to write the story of business in our community.

Charlie Bailey

Chair of the Board

8th Siesta Key Crystal Classic Returns November 10th-13th!

This November 10th-13th, the world’s preeminent master sand sculptors will be competing in the Siesta Key Crystal Classic. Now in its 8th year, this popular visual and cultural arts festival have hosted over 250,000 attendees on our #1 beach!

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Over the course of approximately 4 days, 12 teams of two master sand sculptors, who hail from all over the world, create 8 – 10′ high, 3-dimensional sand sculptures out of the whitest, finest sand in the world. They compete for prize money and an award at the largest sand sculpting doubles competition in the United States.

This Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival also features a Vendor Village on the sand Friday through Monday, live entertainment daily and until 9 pm Friday & Saturday, sculpting lessons, an amateur contest, The Learning Curve – Arts & Science lab, Quick Sand competitions and demonstrations all taking place on the #1 beach on Siesta Key. Awards & prize money are given on Sunday, 11/12/17 at 3 pm.

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Information regarding the 2017 event schedule, ticket options, and parking passes can be found on the website: www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.

Congratulations, Young Professional of the Year, Murray Devine!

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The Sarasota Young Professionals Group, a program of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, is proud to announce Murray Devine as the Young Professional of the Year announced at the YPG Summit: Thrive hosted at USF Sarasota-Manatee on July 21.

This award, which in years’ past has been announced at The Chamber’s Annual Small Business Awards, recognizes a young professional in the Sarasota region that has demonstrated outstanding leadership personally, professionally, and in our community.

About Murray Devine:

Murray Devine is the Manager of Communications and Marketing at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, overseeing the Foundation’s communications, media relations, social media, and marketing efforts for the last three years. He also directs the branding, strategic communications, and promotional efforts for the Giving Challenge, which benefits more than 600 local non-profit organizations, as well as Season of Sharing, which provides a safety-net for families living under the threat of homelessness. Originally born and raised in South Africa, Murray has been proud to be able to call Sarasota his home for the last 14 years. Murray believes in the power of results-based, strategic communications and storytelling to build movements and drive positive social change in communities. Through his work, Murray most enjoys telling the various stories of good things happening in our region and being able to give back to the community.


The 2017 YPG Summit: “Thrive” and the Young Professional of the Year Award is presented by Kerkering, Barberio & Co. Additional Sponsors include Observer Media Group as Media Sponsor; Community Foundation of Sarasota County as Foundation Partner; Boars Head Provisions Company, Cowork SRQ, and MagnifyGood as Track Sponsors; Willis Smith Construction and TriNet as Gold Sponsors; and Allegiant Private Advisors, BB&T, and Sarasota Ford as Silver Sponsors.

4 BEGINNING TWITTER TIPS FOR BUSINESS

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From 2014-2015 the number of Twitter users grew by 50 million, and it’s estimated that close to 1/5 of Internet users have Twitter accounts. The average Twitter user follows 5 businesses so if you’re not trying to reach your customers on Twitter you’re missing an opportunity.

Twitter is easy enough to understand, just share something 140 characters or less. You can share links, images, or videos. Here are a few other tips for businesses just starting out on Twitter:

Use Hashtags

Twitter is as hard to follow as the ticker tape on a stock page. It’s a constant barrage of messaging, particularly for those accounts that follow a lot of people. Hashtags, or pound signs (#), help people search for the information they want.

Using an appropriate hashtag can expand your business’ reach and help potential customers find what they’re looking for. Employ one specific to your business and use hashtags that are relevant. For instance, Jake’s Jewelry Store might use all, or any, of the following hashtags in tweets with images of gifts for mom: #jakes, #mothersday, #gift.

You can also use popular hashtags of trending topics, when applicable, like #marchmadness or #50shadesofgrey.

Share Images

This tip applies to most of social media but Twitter will display images prominently in the stream so it’s a good way to get your followers’ attention.

Rise Above the Noise

Find ways to stand out from others who are merely posting articles they’ve written. Ask questions. Have conversations. Thank people for sharing your content.

One of the easiest ways to create loyal followers, at least initially, is through commenting on what they share – either by providing your own opinions or asking them follow-up questions.

Avoid sending out automated thank you messages to new followers. While the concept seems nice – thanking them for following you – they come off as exactly what they are, robotic. Plus many Twitter users don’t check their messages box because of a large number of these they receive.

In addition to finding customers and potential customers on Twitter, it’s good to connect with influencers in your industry or audience such as mommy bloggers or niche bloggers.

Follow the Golden Rule

To follow back or not to follow back. That is the question and the answer for business is follow back, or do unto others as you would like them to do to you.

There are exceptions to this rule.

Twitter will cap you at 5,000 following (people you follow) if your followers (number of people who follow you) are not fairly equal. For instance, if you followed 2,000 people but only 500 followed you, Twitter will not allow you to follow any more until those numbers get within (about) 200 of each other. Twitter won’t tell you the exact number that it takes but you will be limited until those follower numbers rise.

You also don’t want your followers and following number too far off of one another because:

  • If you are following too many people, and a relatively equal number is not following you back, it looks like you’re not sharing worthwhile information.

On the other hand,

  • If a lot of people are following you and you’re only following a handful, you look like a bit of a jerk. That’s okay for reality TV stars but people who are using Twitter for business should be a little more congenial.

You can manage your Twitter followers through tools like ManageFlitter, Followerwonk (a Moz app) or Friend or Follow. Many of these tools can help you tell which accounts are spambots or fake accounts or inactive accounts. (You don’t want to spend time engaging those.) They also help you isolate influencers in your area.

There are pages and pages of tips written on topics like Twitter for business but the best thing to keep in mind is your humanity. Don’t make it all about your business and be gracious. Find ways to connect with people on a more personal level and imagine every tweet you’re sending could be seen by your grandmother, unless you’re in the type of business you don’t want your grandmother to know about.


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 Memberclicks.

Sarasota County Wins State FAFSA Completion Award

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The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership is proud to announce that Sarasota County Schools has won four awards for highest FAFSA completion rate in the state from the 2017 Florida FAFSA Challenge, a campaign to increase the proportion of high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Through leading local efforts made by the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, 45.5% by Sarasota County high school seniors have completed the FAFSA. This is a 9.1% change over the previous application year, which equates to an estimated additional $513,180 in Pell grants awarded to Sarasota County students. Additionally, the Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN) has awarded Sarasota with the following honors:

  • Sarasota County Schools–“MVP for Large School District” (Having the highest FAFSA completion rate through March 31st, 2017)
  • Riverview High School–“Biggest Boost for Large Schools” (Largest week-to-week change in percentage of students completing the FAFSA)
  • All-Stars”—(Achieving an increase of FAFSA completion by at least 5% over last year):
  • Sarasota County School District
  • Suncoast Polytechnical High School
  • Sarasota Military Academy
  • Booker High School
  • Venice Senior High School
  • Sarasota High School
  • North Port High School
  • Riverview High School

 

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Talent4Tomorrow Partners and Sarasota County School District Officials accepting the award for “MVP for Large School District”

 

The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership is a community collaborative known as a “Local College Access Network”, and consists of CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota County Schools, UnidosNow, and United Way Suncoast. The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership seeks to increase career awareness and postsecondary attainment through increased college and career awareness, aspiration, and affordability initiatives. Kevin Cooper, President of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce stated, “Every dollar counts when it comes to accessing post-secondary education.  When we come together, focus together, and lead together, it’s gratifying to see results getting our students one step closer to where they and we want them to be.  This is a truly great example of leadership through collaboration.”

The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership has spent several months planning and executing FAFSA awareness and support activities, including FAFSA completion assistance during community- and school-based events. Community volunteers as well as financial aid officers from Ringling College of Art & Design, State College of Florida, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, and Keiser University assisted families of high school seniors in completing the FAFSA form at North Port High School, Booker High School, and Sarasota High School, as well as community-based FAFSA events and United Way Suncoast VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) programs.

According to the Florida College Access Network, less than half of all eligible Sarasota County high school students in 2012-2013 completed the FAFSA form, thus leaving over $2 million in Pell Grant dollars untapped. 59% of Florida students in 2013 were eligible to receive a Pell Grant, which awards up to $5,815 a year per student.


For more information regarding the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, contact Mimi Cirbusova at mcirbusova@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4038.

Congratulations, Janet & Sharon as Ambassadors of the Quarter!

Congratulations, Janet Arena!

Janet Arena HeadshotJanet was born in Philadelphia.  Lived most of her youth on a farm in Bucks County. Went to Penn State—majored in business education. Very active in a service sorority, cheerleading, and the theater. Went on to Pittsburgh where she taught two years before going to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in East Africa where she taught business procedures to government employees. While there, she took the challenge of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro which she did in three days—19,340 feet (with no oxygen).

Came back to the U.S. where she taught at Suffolk Community College and Nassau Community College on Long Island. At the same time, she completed her Master’s Degree at Columbia University.

Janet moved to Connecticut where she accepted the position of Chairperson of the three high schools in Milford, CT. In 1979, she became President and co-owner of Stone Academy, a business and medical training post-secondary institute.

She moved to Florida in 2003. After working at various jobs throughout the area, she accepted the position in the Marketing Department at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. She is presently involved in various committees for four Chambers, ushers at seven venues, house manager at Venice Theater, serves on the Gala Committees for Goodwill, Save Our Seabirds and the American Cancer Society, works Meals on Wheels every Saturday; Vice President of the Penn State Alumni Association; Executive Committee member and treasurer for the Big Ten Alumni Group.


Congratulations, Sharon Litchfield!

 

Sharon Litchfield HeadshotSharon has lived in the Sarasota community for over 40 years and has been married to Andy for 32 years, with one son, Adam, both of which keep her grounded. They have two rescue dogs, Levi and Ziggy, who are inseparable and a joy every day. Sharon enjoys all activities that Sarasota provides, from walking the Ringling Bridge to exploring what downtown has to offer on a regular basis and all the festivals that Sarasota brings to our community. She loves traveling and exploring other areas outside Sarasota and look forward to many fun trips this summer.

Sharon will be celebrating 27 years at one of the finest private golf clubs in Sarasota, FL, home to the Champions TOUR from 1986 through 2001 as part of the PGA TOUR Golf Course Property Inc. clubs for over 17 years at TPC Prestancia in Sarasota.

Sharon’s involvement with The Chamber is extensive as she serves on three different councils within Thc Chamber: Chamber Ambassadors, Member Services & Small Business Support Council, and the Finance Committee.

In 2014, she returned to USFSM to pursue her Masters in Hospitality and Technology Leadership and graduated in April 2017. Her involvement in many fundraising charitable organizations over the past 25 years includes United Way, Susan G. Komen, MDA, BBBS, Southeastern Guide Dogs and Be The Match Foundation as a Registered Bone Marrow Donor.

Sharon’s philosophy that you need to give back to your community and give to those in need to have a meaningful life.


Congratulations, to both Janet & Sharon! We greatly appreciate the dedication that you give to The Chamber and to The Chamber Ambassadors’ program. Janet and Sharon’s longstanding commitment through The Chamber Ambassadors and other Chamber Programs, make them excellent representatives of The Chamber and its’ programs. Thank you & keep up the great work!

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

Partnering to Build Your Business

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

1945 Fruitville Road | Sarasota, FL 34236

http://www.SarasotaChamber.com