Manatee EDC has become own entity

MANATEE — The Manatee Economic Development Corp. has formally separated from the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce to become its own entity.

Effective Jan. 1, the economic council has been incorporated as a nonprofit and no longer a division of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. The reorganization has been in the works for the past year to grow the organization’s investor base.

Board members said the day-to-day mechanics will remain the same. The EDC also will continue to operate in the Chamber’s downtown Bradenton building through a sharing agreement reached between the two groups.

“The past year has been a real learning process for the board members,” EDC Chairman Jerry Marlar said. “We all got a little more involved in the mission than we typically would if it were just business as usual.”

The EDC is a nonprofit designed to serve as the liaison between employers and government agencies in the economic development process. The organization helps relocating or expanding businesses secure incentives, needed real estate or other services along the way.

A 2009 task force of community business leaders studied the issue and concluded a new structure independent from the Manatee Chamber would accelerate efforts for strengthening the economy.

Both the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County and Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. operate separately from their chambers as well.

“This structure will only enhance the role of the EDC as a county driver of business recruitment,” board member Beth Green said. “Separating from the Chamber doesn’t diminish the partnership.”

The reorganization gives the EDC its own board of directors. Previously, the organization had an advisory committee comprised of area business leaders who gave direction to the Chamber’s board.

EDC executives said that the staff’s basic functions, however, remain the same.