SUSTA offers Manatee County businesses an opportunity to go global

April 3, 2013 

MANATEE COUNTY -- The Southern United States Trade Association is accepting applications to help companies promote food and agriculture products internationally.

SUSTA, through the federal Market Access Program, reimburses companies up to 50 percent of export promotional costs - such as product advertising in foreign markets, exhibiting at international trade shows and adapting product labels for foreign laws -- to help them compete in global markets. Last year, companies enrolled in SUSTA's programs exported more than $41 million in American food and agriculture with help from the funding and assistance.

"Demand for American food and agriculture is rising sharply around the world, particularly among growing middle classes that recognize our products for their quality and safety," said SUSTA executive director Jerry Hingle. "We're always thrilled to see small businesses tap new export markets that otherwise are unreachable without the assistance we offer."

The Market Access Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service. SUSTA directs money to small- and medium-sized companies based in the southern United States.

"Funding is limited so we encourage companies that want to take advantage of this program over the coming year to get their applications in early," said deputy director Bernadette Wiltz. "The process is very easy and we gladly walk applicants through it all."

To be eligible, companies must be considered small, according to U.S. Small Business Administration standards, have yearly sales of at least $100,000 and promote a brand-name product that is of at least 50 percent U.S. agricultural origin..

Companies can complete a pre-qualification form on SUSTA website Additional information is available by calling 504-568-5986.

Grants help health workers get better jobs

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative has awarded five grants totaling $205,210 to help Sarasota and Manatee health care providers train workers for higher-skilled, better-paying positions this year.

The employers receiving CareerEdge grants to partially offset training costs are Blake Medical Center, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Life Care Center of Sarasota, Pines of Sarasota Foundation and Venice Regional Medical Center. The investments will help train 464 local health care workers. Four providers previously received funding from CareerEdge, now in its third year of health care training grants.

The five employers have committed more than $1.28 million of their own funds toward training workers in partnership with CareerEdge. Based on CareerEdge's funding model, health care grantees have assumed an increasingly larger percentage of training costs in successive years as they reap the benefits of investing in their work forces.

"These employers' significant contributions show the value they have seen in making work force investment a priority," said Mark Pritchett, senior vice president of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and co-chair of CareerEdge. "Their employees are more skilled and compensated accordingly, morale is improved, patient satisfaction is higher and we think that leads to increased quality of care overall for the region."

Gulf Coast Community Foundation acts as the fiscal agent for CareerEdge.

CareerEdge is expanding its impact on the region's health care sector by leading a bicounty working group focused on health care-specific work force issues. The Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative has been meeting since January with more than 30 employers and educators participating.

"We provide an open forum to share and learn best practices, discuss challenges and arrive at solutions together," said Veronica Lequeux, vice president of human resources at Blake Medical Center and chair of the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative.

Jennifer Carp, assistant director of CareerEdge, said working with the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative will enable CareerEdge to widen its scope of services and help make the region's health care sector more competitive. CareerEdge intends to invest in trainings and other initiatives through the consortium, said Carp.

St. Armands house sells for $4.25 million

SARASOTA -- A waterfront estate on St. Armands Key sold today for $4.25 million -- the highest-priced sale of a single family home on St. Armands Key since 2007.

The 6,123-square-foot home was under contract after only 81 days on the market. It was sold to buyers represented by Kathleen Callender of Michael Saunders & Co.

Michael Saunders said buyers are actively pursuing luxury homes in the area once again.

The home was designed by Sarasota architect Clifford Scholtz. Surrounded by ivy-covered walls and a double-gated entry, the estate property features five bedrooms, gourmet kitchen, den, workout room, bayside pool and spa and a three-car garage.

Concession finalizes builders partnership

EAST MANATEE -- The Concession has finalized partnerships with several builders for its luxury residential community next to The Concession Golf Club. The builders include: Anchor Builders, Arthur Rutenburg Homes, Holiday Group, John Cannon Homes Inc, John Neal Homes and Lee Wetherington Homes.

The partnerships are part of The Concession's approach to build relationships with prospective buyers and provide another level of service and choice in their high-end market. Each builder has committed to build a new model home by the end of 2013.

Arthur Rutenburg Homes has a new model open seven days a week at The Concession.

"Each of these builders have demonstrated exceptional quality and customer service and are a great fit for The Concession clientele." said Kevin Daves, president of Core Development, the developer of The Concession and The Ritz Carlton Sarasota. "These partnerships allow us to connect with more buyers and offer additional design choices."

-- Herald staff reports

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