LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The 2014 Annual Sponsor Showcase by the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance was a coming-out party Wednesday evening at the Polo Grill and Bar in downtown Lakewood Ranch.
The showcase was an opportunity for the alliance to promote its new headquarters, new executive director and push for more membership as businesses and companies emerge in the master-planned community.
Recently, the organization moved to a larger location on Enterprise Circle in Lakewood Ranch, headquarters for one of its main sponsors and founder, MGA Insurance Group and its President Lou Marinaccio.
Next week, Heather Kasten, a vice president for the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, will become the new executive director of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance. Kasten says many members of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance represent future job growth in the economy.
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"Our membership reflects the national business demographics and where the majority of jobs are coming from," Kasten said. "Small businesses like ours, that have one to 25 employees, are the future. They create high-paying jobs so people can live and work in this community."
Kasten said she's confident companies will come to Lakewood Ranch because the community is so well planned and growth is well managed.
"This community is considered a special place, not just in Florida, but in the entire United States," she said. "Companies are beginning to realize that Lakewood Ranch is a good place to live, work, raise a family and send their children to good schools all in one area."
New businesses targeting Lakewood Ranch including regional banks looking to branch out, manufacturers and multinational corporations, she said.
"We're targeting all the new businesses that are coming into town and a lot of those businesses have multiple locations. You'd be surprised how many multinational, multimillion-dollar corporations are right here in our neighborhood," said Darren Inverso, an alliance board member and attorney at the law firm of Norton Hammersley in Sarasota.
First-year alliance member and entrepreneur, Tammy Davis, owner of Sunshine Baskets in Sarasota, a gift basket company, said she might locate a branch of her small, 9-year-old business in Lakewood Ranch as the economy moves out of the recession and the area continues to grow.
"I've made it through by making each basket to order so I can customize to whatever needs people have. Networking through this organization is very refreshing," Davis said.
The alliance also has a young group of business leaders who call Lakewood Ranch home. Chris Orbles, 23, a recent University of Central Florida graduate, has ADP to thank for that, he said.
"I'm doing outside sales for ADP in Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton and Sarasota. This is an awesome opportunity for me to network with some of the businesses in my territory."
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter@MoschellaHerald.