For cultural change to happen in a community, nonprofits need financial and moral support.
It’s a community’s for-profit businesses that provide the necessary support, said Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Sharon Hillstrom.
“It’s really having that strong business case that supports the nonprofits in the community to address those issues that are challenges for our community so we can continue to bring more businesses here and make it the type of environment business wants to locate in so we can continue to provide a great quality of life,” Hillstrom said.
The moral purpose of business was the main message behind James Otteson’s keynote address at the Bradenton Area EDC’s annual update luncheon on Friday at the Polo Bar and Grill. Otteson has a doctorate in philosophy and is a professor of economics at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He recognizes the unique combination of his degree and profession but uses his philosophy knowledge to inform the way he teaches business.
Otteson took the audience of approximately 250 back 10,000 years and said for most of human history, life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
But in the 1800’s, something changed. It’s a question he often poses to students.
“Effectively, business happened,” Otteson said. “Not extortion and extraction, but cooperation and association. There was a cultural shift from thinking the way to gain wealth, the way to make yourself better off was by conquering and taking and stealing from others. There was a shift to thinking that no, the way to make my life better is by figuring out a way to make someone else’s life better at the same time.”
4,865 number of Bradenton Area EDC’s projected jobs in Manatee County by 2021
In a market economy, the only way to survive as a business is to think about the well-being of others, he said, and that’s why the Bradenton Area EDC plays an important role in the Manatee County community.
“One of the great and important missions of an organization like the EDC is to remind us of that,” Otteson said. “They are nodes of cooperation. They are places where people can bring various kinds of expertise together in a mutually voluntary and beneficial way and you get exponentially greater output from that.”
Hillstrom spoke to the output of the Bradenton Area EDC when she touted the organization’s role in the 73 projects involving business expansion and relocation since 2009. By 2021, when the Bradenton Area EDC will be finished with its Build Bradenton Area plan, the Bradenton Area EDC aims to create 5,000 jobs with more than $2 billion in wages and bring $660 million in capital investment to Manatee County.
The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport will help the Bradenton Area EDC reach its goals and bring more business into the community by displaying the “Building a Better Place to Live & Work” video on screens throughout the terminal.
Fredrick “Rick” Piccolo, President and CEO of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, will step down from his role as secretary of the Bradenton Area EDC. Working with the EDC on the video project and continuing to help the EDC achieve its goals by staying on the board of directors only makes sense for the airport’s sake.
“Obviously when companies relocate or local companies stay or grow or with attracting new business, it all helps the airport grow,” Piccolo said. “As the community grows and the business community grows, those people all fly, so we’re very supportive of growth in the community and the natural benefit for the airport.”