Effective partnerships lead to bright future

June 16, 2014 

Over the past few weeks I have spent a good deal of time at events connected to an industry that provides huge exposure and economic benefit to Manatee County and our region: It's the sports performance industry.

In just the past few weeks, IMG Academy hosted 34 young adult leaders from across South, Central, and North America and the Caribbean in a program connected to the United Nations Office of Sports for Development and Peace. The Sarasota Polo Club, Ringling Museum and Selby Aquatic Center hosted the Modern Pentathalon World Cup. Lakewood Ranch's Premier Sports Campus hosted the Laxpalooza Lacrosse Tournament. Two Olympic skaters who train at Ellenton Ice & Sports Complex spoke at a Manatee Chamber annual leadership luncheon. Nathan Benderson Park celebrated the grand opening of its second phase. And, McKechnie Field hosted the Florida State League All Star Game. And all of this was over just a three-week period.

The economic impact of these types of events is tremendous both in terms of the money spent in our community and the number of jobs this industry supports. The annual economic impact has been estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Last year, Manatee County sporting events/tournaments generated an estimated 54,200 overnight visitors staying in the County's commercial lodgings. In addition to venue-based events, this industry supports expanded hospitality, manufacturing, medical, consulting, research and business services opportunities. Plus, much of the attention reaches beyond our corner of the world to bring positive promotion of Manatee County and our region across the nation and around the globe.

The sports performance industry provides an economic development focus that places our region at the top of the list for industries associated with sports. We believe our region has unique assets and a competitive advantage -- it's something that sets us apart and attracts attention. In addition to world class facilities, desirable hospitality amenities, and cooperative weather, national and world-wide event organizers look for community support and participation. We want to see "locals" packing the stands and sidelines when these athletes and coaches choose our region in which to train and compete. There are amazing opportunities to see top

athletes and future stars right in our own backyard, up close and personal, for little or sometimes no cost.

Our region has responded to these opportunities with resounding success. And as awareness of these events grows even more, local support increases and we make an even more favorable impression to these athletes, organizations, and the world.

We've built effective partnerships to rally around these unique assets for growth. The future is bright!

Bob Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at 941-748-3411 or BobB@ManateeChamber.com.

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