With a new year upon us, I find myself filled with optimism and energy to get things started. It’s a symbolic marking that can motivate a fresh outlook and renewed focus.
The award is designed to honor the late Bob Bartz, who was a giant in our business community and left an inspiring legacy of leadership.
Using his example to highlight the work of Manatee County’s business community will be a meaningful and motivating way to position the year ahead.
The business community, through the collective and collaborative efforts of the Chamber, has not shied away from tackling tough issues. His example is mirrored in the leadership shown by thousands of business people over our more than 128-year history as an organization. The year ahead will provide plenty of opportunities for people to get informed, get involved and have a voice.
Issues at the top of the list include infrastructure planning, attainable housing, education funding, grade level reading and workforce development. I am excited that we have business people at all levels who are eager to be involved – from local college students making initial connections in our community to our young professionals to business leaders who have given of their time and talents over many decades.
They all share a common goal of making Manatee County the best place to live, work, play and own a business.
Members of the Manatee Young Professionals (MYP) program recently presented at the Chamber’s annual leadership retreat. Once again, the lack of attainable housing was at the top of their list of concerns.
It is encouraging to watch their advocacy efforts. While Manatee County is by no means alone on this issue, I am hopeful that our community will make progress.
We have been able to engage business, community and government leaders on this topic, which impacts both our current and future workforce.
We also discussed ways the business community can engage in more ways with the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. It’s a critical metric for our local students and one that impacts an individual’s future more than almost any other. I am excited about how our community will respond to the call to get engaged and move the needle.
The most audacious goals can be the most inspiring. Manatee County leaders will stretch and reach for goals that aren’t easy. But, they will reach, and that’s the most important thing.
We have all benefited from generations of leaders who tackled the tough issues, with the betterment of our community at the heart of their work.
On Jan. 31, we will celebrate one of those leaders with the Robert P. Bartz Award for Outstanding Leadership.
The community is invited to celebrate with us. Call the Chamber at 941-748-3411 for more information.