It’s a wonderful season for Manatee County

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” The classic Andy Williams song never ceases to brighten my day and when I heard it recently it started me thinking about a list of the ways this truly can be the most wonderful time of the year in Manatee County.

“Chamber of Commerce weather” is a great place to start. We all know that the Sunshine State and our community benefit from the thousands of winter visitors who come to town to enjoy our piece of paradise this time of year.

These visitors, in turn, make it a “most wonderful time of the year” for local businesses and the employees whose jobs depend on tourist and seasonal resident spending.

Visitors poured more than $700 million into our local economy last year. So, take the time to thank these visitors for coming to Manatee County.

If you want to grumble about sitting through one extra traffic signal, please think about the jobs these visitors are supporting -- they just may be yours or your neighbor’s.

At the chamber, we are so pleased to have been recently designated as official Tourist Information Centers by Manatee County.

Our staff looks forward to the opportunity to welcome and assist visitors, newcomers and long-time residents, alike, by providing information about local businesses and community amenities.

We all know the importance of “buying local” and your Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of that effort, from offering easy access to information on local businesses to helping consumers obtain quotes on products/services to advocating for changes to Internet sales tax collection that level the playing field for local “bricks and mortar” businesses.

This is also the time of year when a multitude of nonprofits go into overdrive trying to make things a little bit better for those who are struggling in our community, particularly our children.

Whether it’s the local food bank, a toy drive, counseling service, youth program or any one of our hundreds of Manatee County nonprofits, your Chamber of Commerce encourages your year-end support of these organizations and their critical missions.

Finally, the holidays are a time to reflect upon the things most important to us. Your list, like mine, probably starts with close family relation- ships, good health, the ability to contribute through meaningful work, supportive networks of friends, and the list goes on.

I am thankful that my home for all of these things is Manatee County and for the countless fellow citizens who work hard to ensure that, in Manatee County, it’s always “the most wonderful time of the year!” We all play a part in making that a reality.

Robert P. Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at 941-748-3411.