Manatee-Sarasota CareerSource Suncoast announces CEO succession

toconnor@bradenton.comApril 25, 2014 

Ehrlichman

BRADENTON -- Ted Ehrlichman has been named president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast, formerly Suncoast Workforce, a nonprofit corporation that works to connect businesses with job seekers, workers and partners in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The 62-year-old Pittsburgh native succeeds retiring CEO Mary Helen Kress, who will remain on staff during the transition period through September. Kress has led the organization since 2008, but her career in workforce development dates to 1988.

"She's such a leader and so well-connected with so many people at the state and local level," said CareerSource Suncoast director of communications Sally Hill. "Other regions and state agencies have called on her to share best practices."

Hill said as much as Kress will be missed, she believes Ehrlichman will take the organization to the next level.

Ehrlichman said the past five years working under Kress have prepared him to lead CareerSource Suncoast.

"I didn't expect a career in workforce development coming from my marketing and branding background," Ehrlichman said. "But my skills were very transferable to what the need is here. I'm humbled by (the promotion) and pleased."

Raising CareerSource Suncoast's profile is one of Ehrlichman's primary goals, he said.

"We're still relatively unknown," Ehrlichman said. "There are still a lot of employers who really don't understand we are a go-to one-stop source of recruiting for them."

CareerSource Suncoast has

grown busier as the Manatee-Sarasota region continues to emerge from the Great Recession. Employment concerns have shifted from too few jobs to too few qualified workers to fill them, he said. That's where CareerSource Suncoast comes in.

"We're definitely seeing employers on an upswing for hiring," Ehrlichman said. "There's no question about it. Among the significant aspects of that is they're hiring for jobs that pay better than average or entry level wages."

Employers coming to CareerSource Suncoast will have an edge in a competitive marketplace, he said.

"As the market heats up, and there are more employers out there, things change," he said. "For the employer it gets a little tougher. On the job-seeker side we're taking a holistic approach, a personal branding approach about developing transferable skills."

Transferable skills

Ehrlichman said he's a good example of the benefits of developing transferable skills. A well-rounded job seeker with a diverse skill set is a more valuable employment candidate, he said.

"For me, I think the key is I bring the business perspective." he said. "I've spent most of my career in the private sector. I've always worked at marketing and branding."

In 2008, the Ehrlichman family moved to the Manatee County area from Colorado Springs, Colo., for personal reasons, he said.

"My wife became ill and the high-desert climate was not good for her health," he said.

Ehrlichman joined CareerSource Suncoast in 2009 and has held several management positions, including his current role as chief operations officer, according to Hill.

Hill said Ehrlichman is now responsible for all federal and state programs, including planning, execution and control.

Proven leadership

"Under his leadership, a Business Service Team was formed to consult with regional employers to bring solutions for talent recruitment and development," Hill said in a press release.

"Ehrlichman piloted an innovative, successful approach to hiring locally for construction projects during a historically difficult market. He also contributed to a strong regional coalition to address local workforce training needs for the future.

Prior to joining CareerSource Suncoast, Ehrlichman was vice president of marketing for Cook Communications Inc. in Colorado Springs. Ehrlichman received a bachelor's degree from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a master's degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Ehrlichman already serves on several local boards and is active on numerous workforce-related civic committees. He will assume his new duties June 1.

"I have felt very welcome in this business community," he said. "I'm surprised and pleased to be able to relocate from a western town to where I feel as if I've been adopted. I see a community really pulling together."

Terry O'Connor, metro editor, can be reached at toconnor@bradenton.com or 941-745-7040.

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