What do you do when your business exceeds its goals for the year after only nine months?
You celebrate for five minutes, and then get back to work. And you increase your expectations for the following year.
That’s the situation at the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (EDC), where our job is to diversify the local economy. We do that by attracting and retaining high-wage jobs for area residents and connecting existing businesses to the resources they need to succeed.
Pursuing the initiatives in our multi-year strategic plan, by the end of June we had exceeded our annual goals in all categories for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.
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We exceeded our goal of attracting new businesses to Manatee County with almost double the number of companies and projected jobs, and by more than $5 million in projected capital investment.
We also assisted more expansions by existing businesses and more start-ups than projected for the entire year.
This strong momentum bodes well for the fourth quarter and beyond. Our external marketing efforts, along with a strong number of referrals from EDC investors and other local relationships, are bearing additional fruit.
We are currently working with more than 20 companies that are in various stages of expansion or relocation in Manatee County, and more are in the pipeline. The types of businesses vary, but most are related to advanced manufacturing with overlap into other sectors, such as life sciences and aviation/aerospace.
The business sectors represented by both prospect inquiries and projects won reflect the sectors our strategic plan identifies as the most competitive for Manatee County. This tells us our “Build Bradenton Area Plan” is on target in directing outreach efforts to these sectors.
Geographically speaking, most of the companies investigating Manatee County already have a presence in Florida and are eyeing our area for expansion. Other feeder markets include the southeast and central United States, followed by Europe and the West Coast states.
What is making Manatee County so successful as a business location? Company executives and site consultants tell us it’s the combination of business and community assets, along with a business-friendly local government climate.
We are successful in attracting and retaining growth companies and their jobs because we make it easier for them to get the information they need and jump through regulatory hoops to establish their facilities here.
Ultimately, our success stems from the EDC’s partnerships with our organization’s investors, local and state governments, workforce development experts, educational institutions, Port Manatee, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, non-profit organizations and more. We know who can quickly solve problems for companies, and we are tenacious in advocating for our client businesses.
Creating a more diverse economy that is less reliant on cyclical industries, such as tourism and real estate, is essential to supporting the quality of life we all want in Manatee County. It is a key to fostering greater economic opportunity for all residents.
Nine months into implementing our multi-year strategy to achieve greater economic expansion, we have maxed our 12-month goals. We’re on the right track and are forging ahead to deliver results for the Bradenton area.
Sharon Hillstrom is president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (thinkbradentonarea.com). She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-9036.