Manatee County residents have several superb opportunities to help both our economy and our needy neighbors either by attending a sporting event or relaying information. Both could mean greater income for businesses and families. And both benefit the entire community.
In the past week, these two issues arose that bare repeating.
Get your tax credit
Our thanks to Tim Dutton, the executive director of Suncoast Community Capital, for a Herald guest column published Sunday that articulated one issue that holds the promise of delivering a major boost to struggling families. Ignorance of tax law has been costing individuals and families a considerable amount of cash for years -- a credit that could reach $6,000 for those who qualify. Shockingly, these credits go unclaimed by more than 20 percent of the families nationwide who could get refunds under the Earned Income Tax Credit.
As Dutton stated, more than 18 percent of Manatee and Sarasota families who filed for this benefit got back more than $3,000. Families with incomes up to $51,467 could qualify.
Why taxpayers remain in the dark about this is puzzling, to say the least. Which is why we recommend people tell their family, friends and neighbors to explore the possibilities. After all, Suncoast Community Capital offers free advice. A few moments could put more food on the table and help pay the rent.
As Dutton pointed out in his commentary, this has a clear economic impact on a community as Earned Income Tax Credit dollars spent at the local level reverberate from business to business. As the income tax season approaches, this becomes all the more important. Frankly, we recommend businesses put up posters to amplify this message: Get what you deserve in this income tax credit.
EITC requirements can be found at www.irs.gov/eitc. Contact Suncoast Community Capital at 941-744-2666, ext. 2, or visit www.suncoastcc.com for details on appointments and more.
A kick out of soccer
There's another economic stimulus in the offing -- with long-lasting and far-reaching potential. Manatee County's blossoming sports industry, already a powerhouse but growing exponentially, could get another powerful push forward over the next two weeks. And soccer fans should be tremendously excited.
Major League Soccer is coming to Manatee County in a big way -- with spring training by six clubs at IMG Academy. Long revered as an international sports training center that has driven athletes to the highest level of success, IMG has won another victory by attracting these MLS teams to its sprawling and expanding Bradenton campus.
IMG's new stadium will play host to numerous MSL matches from Jan. 31 to Feb. 12, but the deal will really be sealed if local fans pack the place. By deal, we mean cementing Bradenton as the "Eastern Conference Hub" of Major League Soccer. Should MLS enjoy success here this year, the league could sign up for years to come. Our tourism industry -- and entire community -- would benefit from the revenue infusion.
This is not just about a weeks-long economic impact but the continuing exposure of our region via the athletes, fans and social networks. Any new visitor who ventures onto Anna Maria Island should walk away with recommendations.
Herald reporter Charles Schelle detailed the positives of the MLS visit in Sunday's paper, and Elliott Falcione, the executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, implored local residents to attend these soccer matches in a Monday Business column.
We most heartily echo Falcione's sentiments. A big public response would go a long way toward strengthening our sports industry and boosting our economy. So please enjoy America's top professional soccer league by attending a match or two. (Want a discount deal on MLS tickets? Check out bradenton.dealsaver.com)