A new year stretches out before us. It’s an exciting, challenging prospect to consider 365 new days through which to grow, evolve and accomplish goals.
I believe our community is poised to continue our upward trajectory.
In contemplating how the Manatee Chamber of Commerce can help our business community, more than 100 local leaders gathered in September to begin planning our priorities for 2017. I am excited about the new – and renewed – areas we will address.
With the economic recovery and new growth our business community has experienced during the past few years, workforce issues are again at the forefront.
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We will expand our job shadow program to give more students a look at careers available in our area.
We will look for ways to give students and their parents more information about local career prospects, including in the skilled trades.
We will encourage more businesses to connect with our schools through partnerships, advisory committees and internships.
We want students to network with our young professionals and make connections with local businesses. We’ll be much more likely to keep these students in our community after graduation if they get a leg up in building their network and discovering new job prospects.
The Chamber is excited to be a partner in starting a Local College Access Network in Manatee County this year and increasing the number of students who complete the free application for federal student aid. This could bring more financial aid to Manatee County students for post-secondary training, certifications and degrees. A workforce with stronger skills is a huge benefit to businesses.
Another way we will connect with more local students is through our Manatee Young Professionals program. State College of Florida and USF Sarasota-Manatee are both workforce partners with us. These partnerships already have resulted in almost 100 local college students becoming members of the Manatee Young Professionals program.
We want these students to network with our young professionals and make connections with local businesses. We’ll be much more likely to keep these students in our community after graduation if they get a leg up in building their network and discovering new job prospects. We’ll also launch a new leadership development event series for our young professionals to help them network with established business leaders, starting with our Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
The Chamber also will place great emphasis on advocacy. As the voice for more than 2,100 local businesses with 74,000 employees, we have an important responsibility to inform elected officials at all levels of government about business priorities. We have more than 450 business people who dedicate time to serving on a Chamber committee or task force. Their input and expertise are the foundation of our advocacy efforts. We’ll be weighing in on transportation, infrastructure, infill redevelopment, regulation, education and housing, among other issues.
Small business is big business in Manatee County. It’s at the heart of our economic and job base. We’ll expand our training and seminars, share best practices, partner for entrepreneurial support and emphasize the importance of “Shop Local. Shop Chamber.”
Finally, small business resources will continue to be a priority. Small business is big business in Manatee County. It’s at the heart of our economic and job base. We’ll expand our training and seminars, share best practices, partner for entrepreneurial support and emphasize the importance of “Shop Local. Shop Chamber.”
I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to be involved in these efforts. It takes the whole community collaborating to maintain our enviable quality of life. We want to positively influence the factors that make Manatee County a great place to live, work, play and own a business.
I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous new year.