Thanks to all workers this Labor Day

September 3, 2012 

Some of us awoke this morning to a day off from work thanks to the national Labor Day holiday.

The first Monday in September was officially recognized as a federal holiday in 1894 and for 118 years the day has been marked by parades, barbecues, speeches and other activities meant to recognize the contribution of the American worker. The day also has evolved into an unofficial "end of summer" and, for some, the end of white pants and seersucker until the spring.

But, as is the case for other holiday observances, we often forget about the meaning behind the day. This year it has me thinking about the importance of the work force to the economic health and success of our community.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's website: "The vital force of labor (has) added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership -- the American worker."

At the Manatee Chamber we work diligently every day to make this community one that is attractive to companies and the employees who are their greatest resource. If you ask a business owner what his/her greatest asset is and most will tell you it's his/her employees.

Every year the chamber celebrates the significant successes and contributions of small businesses though the Small Business of the Year Awards. Without fail, the winners thank their employees for their critical role in the success of business. The Manatee Chamber puts it another way, too -- "People do business with people."

When companies are considering an expansion or relocation in Manatee County, one of the top determinants is the quality and availability of the work force. Through many initiatives, partnerships and collaborations, the chamber supports a local work force that is well-trained, connected to resources and living in the best community for businesses and families.

We work to prepare students to become tomorrow's work force through chamber programs like Project TEACH, Real Life 101 and The Big Bank Theory. Each of these brings business volunteers into our local classrooms to engage with the students on issues such as career awareness, work ethic and financial literacy.

We help the current work force access low-cost education and training through in-person seminars with live speakers and 24/7 online courses through a partnership with State College of Florida.

These initiatives -- and others -- support a vibrant, educated pool of employees to support local businesses in the delivery of products and services.

So, today I say "Thank You!" to my employees at the Manatee Chamberand to the more than 75,000 employees ofchamber member companies for all that you do to drive our economy forward.

Bob Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at 941-748-3411 or

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