Meeting highlights 'growth strategy' for troubled Anna Maria Island Community Center

acastillo@bradenton.comJuly 16, 2014 

ANNA MARIA -- A town hall meeting Monday centered on the Anna Maria Island Community Center plans to pull out of a financial rut.

Dawn Stiles, center executive director since 2013, updated the public about the center's new growth strategy and its recently approved 2014-15 budget. The meeting inside the center gymnasium, 407 Magnolia Ave., drew a much smaller crowd than the first community meeting June 4, which was organized after news broke the center could close in a month over its financial hardships.

A PowerPoint presentation was projected against a wall behind Stiles during the meeting. Residents listened intently -- some squinting at the presentation, others at Stiles.

Stiles' growth strategy for the AMICC was illustrated as three circles connected with thin lines. Individual circles read "earned revenue," "community benefit" and "collaborations & partnerships." The lines between each circle went in both directions because Stiles said all aspects "feed

one another."

"None of them can stand on their own," she said. "When you do well in one, you do well in the others."

New revenue streams include Dragon Boat team-building sessions and a recent membership deal with island rental property owners to create an incentive for vacationers in certain rental properties to use the AMICC during their stay.

Stiles also emphasized a center focus on collaboration and partnerships with groups such as the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez and the Panda Foundation based in Bradenton.

"Some of them offer opportunities to create earned revenue. Some of them offer opportunities to provide community benefit and they all feed one another because the more opportunity that we have to collaborate and to partner, the more opportunities open themselves to earn revenue," Stiles said. "They create good will. They create partnerships. They create PR opportunities and the more relationships you develop in each one of those spheres, the more opportunities that you have in the other."

Stiles said the 2014-15 budget, built on the previous year's budget, is "very solid and very conservative." The new budget projects $937,138 in expenses and $981,047 in revenue.

Though the AMICC has received an outpouring of support, glaring needs remain, Stiles said.

"We desperately need volunteers," she said, adding sports coaches, tutors and event chairs would be welcome.

"If you're willing to chair a golf tournament, a bowling tournament, a dinner dance, anything that you think is a way to raise some money, please step forward and volunteer," Stiles said.

Bill Shuman, 64, said he was pleased with the presentation.

"I think Dawn did a great job covering the direction of where the center's going relative to programs," the Holmes Beach resident said. "I think there's a lot of things in there that people didn't know about it and sounds like many of them will be successful."

Shuman and Tom Rushmore, a retiree who lives part-time in Holmes Beach, attended the first community meeting June 4, which drew a huge crowd, some critical of the center operations.

"I think we've really got the direction of how we're going to go and how we're going to accomplish it," Rushmore said.

The mood was somewhat frantic during the June 4 meeting -- but Monday's meeting was much smoother.

"It's not a crisis mode (anymore)," Shuman said. "We're moving forward."

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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