ANNA MARIA -- "Anna Maria Island: Love here? Live here!" is the slogan for a new grassroots organization whose members want to attract and keep permanent residents on the 7-mile barrier island.
The group AMI -- Home, Sweet Home is led by Anna Maria Commissioner Carol Carter, Holmes Beach Commission Vice Chairwoman Jean Peelen and Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jane Robertson.
At a Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting Wednesday afternoon, the three women shared their interest in attracting younger families to settle on the island.
"Another thing that really could play into what we're doing is the fact that increasingly numbers of younger working people can work from home, and so we want to try to someway grab hold of that type of family," said Carter.
Peelen brought up a younger couple she knows who works remotely from the island. She said this kind of working arrangement is becoming more common.
"We don't know quite how to tap into ... How do you find those people?" she asked.
According to AMI -- Home, Sweet Home's mis
sion statement, the organization is committed to attracting and welcoming permanent residents to "come home" to Anna Maria Island and to inspire residents to "love living here."
"We all know that we've had a lot of people leave our cities," said Carter.
Working groups within the organization include volunteers to help spread the word of the new group through social media, promotions and advertising. Officials also spoke about starting an electronic newspaper.
"Our ultimate goal in the very beginning was to get it started here in this small group and then have the elected officials kind of fade into the background and have the residents take this over," said Robertson.
Pam Leckie, who has lived in Holmes Beach with her husband, Major Leckie, for a decade, is part of AMI -- Home Sweet Home.
"We like the tourists. The tourists are wonderful. We really do need them but we also need permanent residents," the 85-year-old said Wednesday evening. "I think we need a balance between tourists and people who live here. ... There's room for both."
Leckie said the organization is trying to attract young people who could live on the island and have their children attend Anna Maria Elementary School in Holmes Beach.
"That's what it's all about. We're not threatening," Leckie said. "Let's get some people to move here because it's so beautiful -- to keep people going to the school and churches, to take part in the community and to enjoy it, not just year-round, not just for a week or a weekend or a day."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.