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Focus on Manatee: Here’s why now is a great time to reflect on the health of our community

What’s it like to do business in Bradenton?

Sara Hand, co-founder of Spark Growth and Joel Beasley, founder of the podcast Modern CTO talk about what the business environment is like in the region after WalletHub named Bradenton one of the top 100 small cities to start a small business.
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Sara Hand, co-founder of Spark Growth and Joel Beasley, founder of the podcast Modern CTO talk about what the business environment is like in the region after WalletHub named Bradenton one of the top 100 small cities to start a small business.

Monday marks the official start of Economic Development Week, created by the International Economic Development Council to increase awareness for local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and increase the quality of life in communities.

For us, celebrating Economic Development Week is a great time to reflect on the health of our community. The unemployment rate is a low 3.2 percent and employers such as Air Products and Chris Craft are touting hundreds of job openings. Bradenton recently ranked among the top 100 small cities in the United States for small business.

Workforce development is integral to economic development, as it takes people to create and retain jobs. That’s why we love getting to help PGT host a hiring event where the company finds 100 new employees, or April’s job fair at Manatee Technical College where more than 50 companies and 300 job seekers attended.

We’ve recently helped place a mechanical engineer at the packaging manufacturer New England Machinery and automotive technicians with Gettel.

When it comes to retention, investing in training is vital to keeping those workers. CareerSource Suncoast has provided more than $80,000 in the past 10 months to local companies for training their current staff in topics ranging from food production safety to sales.

There are also competitive state-funded grants available, and Lakewood Ranch manufacturer RND Automation & Engineering landed its second grant in five years to invest more than $95,000 in its growing operations.

Ted Ehrlichman.jpg
Ted Ehrlichman is the president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast.

In order to facilitate more small businesses, CareerSource Suncoast debuted its business accelerator Thrive in July, supporting the regional entrepreneurial community with flexible and affordable workspace, tech-centric tools, and skill development resources.

Already, we’ve had businesses such as The Wilmington Group and Tracked Mobility launch from the center and some of our co-working clients have landed consulting contracts with businesses locally and nationally via our model of 1-on-1 coaching, educational workshops and networking.

In the coming year, CareerSource Suncoast will assist manufacturers in creating more apprenticeships thanks to a $100,000 grant and improve quality of life for the community by tackling opioid addiction through temporary employment and training via a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

CareerSource Suncoast offers tips on how to interview for a job.

We consider it a privilege to live in a thriving region, and with that comes many responsibilities; each of us has a role to play. Go out and patronize a small business, take that meeting with the entrepreneur trying to pitch you a product or service, hire employees who we’ve primed for you with soft skills training.

Train up your current employees. Give someone a chance. Keep our economy strong.

Ted Ehrlichman, president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast, writes about workforce issues across the region.

Five people conducting interviews at the Career Fair held on Thursday, March 24 at the USCB Hilton Head Gateway Campus give a few tips on things to do -- and not to do -- when applying for a job.

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