From the President’s Desk: Decide The Date

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For nearly 100 years, your Chamber has cultivated Sarasota’s prosperity and quality of life through our members’ business leadership and action. As we enter 2018, that tradition continues. Business leadership, through The Chamber, focuses on two areas: opportunities and problems. It identifies opportunities and removes the problems that would impede them. It also identifies problems and finds opportunities to solve them. Sarasota has a problem, and we are presenting an opportunity to solve it.

The foundation of a representative democracy is rooted in the principle of voter participation. Our democracy suffers when nearly 80% of voters either do not or cannot participate. That is exactly what is happening in the city of Sarasota and the community deserves better.

For decades, the city of Sarasota has held its municipal elections in the spring of odd-numbered years. Those elections tend to draw a voter turnout at or around 20%. During ordinary elections, the turnout is two or three times that.

In the last city election, held in May of 2017, just less than 23% of city voters participated. In the last general election, held in November of 2016, almost 72% of city voters participated. More than 18,000 additional ballots were cast by city voters during the ordinary election.

Interestingly, the city pays additional dollars to hold these off-cycle elections. Each spring election costs the city upwards of $100,000. The city can participate in ordinary, fall elections for free. Business principles wouldn’t have you paying for less than what you could otherwise get for free, and our community shouldn’t either.

Furthermore, what the data shows us is that special, spring elections have a dilutive effect on certain subsets of voters. Along with an overall increase in voter participation, a move to ordinary election cycles would see a significant increase in the composition amongst African-American, Hispanic, and under-30 voters.

In order to move elections to coincide with ordinary elections, the issue must be placed on a ballot for voters to decide whether or not they would like to move the dates. In order for voters to be given that opportunity, 10% of voters must petition the city to do so. It is that opportunity that we are seeking to provide through the Decide the Date initiative. Alongside a number of community partners, we are diligently working to deliver voters the opportunity to choose when they wish to participate in local elections.

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It is through your Chamber that this community can work towards being proud of its civic engagement. That, after all, is a quality of life issue and your Chamber stands at the forefront cultivating our quality of life. I encourage you to visit DecideTheDate.com for information and updates on this critical, community initiative. I ask that you reach out to me with any questions you might have. I hope that you will find ways to further support your Chamber as we seek to solve this problem.

Kevin Cooper, Chamber President


The article is taken from the January 2018 Bridge Magazine.

To read more from this issue, click here.

January 2018

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Small Business Award Nominations are LIVE!

Do you know of a deserving local business member you would like to nominate for a small business award? Follow the link below to nominate a member for this prestigious honor. The six categories include:

Health Care & Wellness Organization of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Hospitality & Tourism Organization of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Non-Profit Organization of the Year

Sponsorship Available. Contact Brittany Lamont for more information.

Products & Services Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Professional Services Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

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Retail Business Business of the Year

Sponsored by:

Shumaker Registered

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Presenting Sponsor & Top Honor Small Business of the Year

The winner of this category will be chosen from the category winners above.
Sponsored by:
Nominations for the 28th Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards will close on February 16. Applications for the Small Business Awards are available now and self-nominations are encouraged.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Nominees must be a local business with 75 employees or less and a Sarasota Chamber member in good standing.
  • Must be a member of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.
  • Must be a locally-owned and operated “bricks and mortar” business under the same ownership for a minimum of three (3) years.
Please note: Nominees MUST fill out an application to be eligible for an award. We will inform your nominee of their nomination, send them the application, but it is their choice whether or not they apply. Self-nominations are accepted.
Only ONE SUBMISSION per nominee necessary.
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To view our members please visit www.sarasotachamber.com/directory.
For information on this year’s Small Business Awards, please visit our website or contact Brittany Lamont at (941) 556-4040.

Where Our Delegation Stands

On January 9th, the Florida Legislature began it’s 2018 Regular Session. Much of what transpires over the next 60-days can have a significant impact on our region and on your business. From the bills to the budget, your elected officials are hard at work shaping next year’s path for the state of Florida. We want you to be tuned into what funding and legislation your local delegates are working on in Tallahassee this year.

Please click on the images to view a list of those current efforts:

 

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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. 

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.