Business Columns & Blogs

Focus on Manatee: Small business is big business, and it shows across our region

One of the most important things we can do for our local economy is support small businesses. They are essential to economic growth and prosperity, playing a significant role in our community by creating jobs.

Small businesses not only boost the economy by creating jobs, they also stimulate innovation and provide a critical supporting role to large corporations.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, two of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year are created by small businesses. Small employers make up more than 90% of the Manatee Chamber’s membership and more than 40% of our Chamber businesses employ five or fewer.

These employers are an integral part of the fabric of our region, creating the unique culture that attracts and retains individuals and families to live, work, play and do business here. The nexus between our community’s quality of life and a healthy economy is clear.

You cannot have a stellar quality of life without a strong business environment, and conversely, you cannot have a strong business environment without a great quality of life.

While the Manatee Chamber works daily to support our business community, advocating and providing the voice of business at all levels of government while providing business development resources, we are also committed to celebrating the success of small businesses and non-profit organizations.

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

In 1980, the Manatee Chamber held its inaugural Small Business Person of the Year Award to celebrate the significant contributions of small business to the community. Now, we are thrilled to be hosting our 40th annual Manatee Small Business of the Year Awards from 7:30-9:30 a.m. on Aug. 23 at the Manatee Performing Arts Center.

Thirty-three outstanding small businesses and non-profit organizations have been selected as finalists for their stellar customer service, dedicated employees, business growth and support of our community.

According to 2019 estimates by the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, Manatee County’s population will exceed half a million in the next 25 years — the highest growth among counties in our region. Manatee is one of the few counties in the region that is getting younger. Our business community plays a major role in this trend.

An important segment of our workforce — now and in the future — are young professionals. The Chamber’s Manatee Young Professionals Program (MYP) is celebrating 20 years this year. In honor of this milestone, the Chamber is hosting the inaugural MYP MVP Awards celebration from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 at Pier 22.

We will honor young professionals ages 21-40 who demonstrate initiative and excellence in their careers, contribute time and energy in serving the community, and seek to support other young professionals through their leadership and advocacy.

The Chamber will also be honoring an employer who implements creative, intentional initiatives that seek to attract and retain young talent in the greater Manatee County region.

Nominations for the MYP MVP awards close on Aug. 23. To submit a nomination, visit

Approximately 2,000 businesses invest in the Chamber’s mission. We invite the community to celebrate with us through both the Small Business of the Year Awards and the MYP MVP Awards.

Give us a call at 941-748-3411 for more information. Remember to think local and thank our small businesses for their important contributions.

Small business is big business — and it shows.

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

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