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Economic development 101: Established local businesses key to job growth in Bradenton

Crowd estimated at 1,000 mixes, eats and relaxes at annual economic Hob Nob

The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation presented the 31st annual Hob Nob BarB-Que Thursday, March 7, in a Dolphin Aviation hangar at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. A record crowd of about 1.000 attended.
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The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation presented the 31st annual Hob Nob BarB-Que Thursday, March 7, in a Dolphin Aviation hangar at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. A record crowd of about 1.000 attended.

What do you think when you hear the term economic development? The term means different things to different people.

For our team at the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation (EDC), it means focusing on diversifying the local economy by attracting and retaining high-skill, high-wage jobs in targeted, high-impact industry sectors and assisting established businesses by providing access to the resources they need to prosper.

While the EDC pursues an aggressive domestic and international outreach program to recruit businesses to Manatee County, we know that established businesses account for as much as 80 percent of job growth. That’s why the EDC intentionally focuses on our Established Business Program, which offers a robust network and sophisticated approach to help businesses in Manatee County grow, add jobs and reinvest in our community.

Our approach to assisting established businesses is to forge long-standing relationships as a trusted consultant. We connect businesses to workforce development resources and training, help them interact with government agencies and bring all the parties to the table to navigate through a facility expansion or consolidation.

We assist Manatee County businesses in targeted industries identified in our strategic plan. Those include advanced manufacturing, aviation/aerospace/defense, corporate headquarters, infotech, life sciences and sports performance.

We focus on those industries because they are sectors that are growing nationally and globally, and tend to provide higher-wage careers. Moreover, we already have businesses here in those sectors and the resources necessary to support more of them.

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Sharon Hillstrom is president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp.

To manage the program, we have dedicated a team member, Elizabeth Cordes, who works to cultivate strong relationships with executive-level decision-makers at established businesses in Manatee County.

Through in-depth consultation and intelligence gathering, she measures, evaluates and develops strategies to increase competitiveness for our client companies.

She draws on the talents and experience of our EDC team and extensive partnerships in the region, state and beyond to connect our clients to the resources they need to be globally competitive with their product or service.

Recently, Cordes led a team of EDC investors and staff on a business walk through an office/industrial park in Manatee County that is home to a number of companies in our targeted industries. Our goal was to introduce the EDC and offer its services as a first step in developing the long-term relationships I mentioned.

Hank Fishkind presented his 2019 economic forecast to a Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation crowd of 400 Thursday at Manatee Technical College. He foresees positive signs and red flags as well.

Businesses visited during the walk appreciated the outreach and gave our team a warm welcome. The EDC investors participating in the visits were impressed with the diversity and caliber of companies in our community.

Manatee County Commissioner Misty Servia, who accompanied the group, said she was “thrilled to walk with our Bradenton Area EDC leaders and pop in on many of our local businesses to say thanks for investing in Manatee County. I am grateful to live in a place where there is so much mutual support and collaboration with each other to achieve success.”

Collaborating to achieve success is the cornerstone of effective economic development. We’re always on the lookout for businesses seeking assistance through our Established Business Program.

If your growing business is located in Manatee County, operates in one of the targeted industries and wants to explore how we can help you take the next step forward, contact Cordes at elizabethc@bradentonareaedc.com.

Sharon Hillstrom is president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (BradentonAreaEDC.com). She can be contacted at info@bradentonareaedc.com or 941-803-9036.

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