Business Columns & Blogs

Focus on Manatee: A time to reflect while looking ahead to what awaits in 2019

Restaurateurs are coming together to say they are open despite red tide

Waterfront restaurants are spreading the message that there may be red tide, but they are open for business.
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Waterfront restaurants are spreading the message that there may be red tide, but they are open for business.

Last week, the Manatee Chamber joined Manatee County’s Redevelopment & Economic Opportunity Department, Code Enforcement and the Manatee Sheriff’s Office on visits to several business areas in our community.

The conversations we had with business owners and local employees told us that the outlook is positive for our local economy.

Business is good, but owners are interested in knowing what resources are available to help them be even more successful. Even in a strong economy, there are challenges and opportunities to do more.

Jacki Dezelski-mug.jpg
Jacki Dezelski is the president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce.

We often view ourselves as resource and information brokers at the Chamber. We’re here to connect business owners with people and programs designed to help them grow and succeed.

Several of the areas that we visited were in long-established business corridors in which companies have been there for decades — even multiple generations. Comments from these business owners reminded us that every business that sets up shop in Manatee County does so by choice. These entrepreneurs want to be here and desire to see continued progress.

They reminded us that our efforts to “Think Local – Shop Local” make a big difference to help locally owned businesses succeed. When they thrive, their employees thrive. Intentionally directing your dollars locally can have a big impact.

If you are looking to find a product or service, let the Manatee Chamber help you find a local business to patronize.

As we close out 2018, it’s a natural time of reflection.

We have seen our community come together to help areas hardest hit by the red tide crisis. Residents and businesses here have sent significant support to the Florida Panhandle in its recovery efforts after Hurricane Michael. Local non-profits are in overdrive, particularly at this time of year, to address challenges in our community and help those who are struggling.

Highlights from the 2018 Manatee Small Business Awards, sponsored by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. The ceremony was held on Friday, August 17 at Manatee Performing Arts Center.

Your year-end support of these organizations can make a big difference in enabling them to carry out their mission.

In looking forward to 2019, I am encouraged by efforts to address new attainable housing solutions, grade-level reading achievement, transportation and infrastructure plans, and much more.

There are many things that make Manatee County special and top of the list are the people. I am thankful to live in a community where people care deeply and work hard to make our home a true slice of paradise in which to live, work, play and own a business.

It might be a little early to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but the coming year is sure to bring both successes and challenges. With engaged leadership, involved citizens, open dialogue and collaborative efforts, we will continue to move our community forward.

Jacki Dezelski is the president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at or 941-748-3411.