Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of weekly columns by local business leaders giving their viewpoint on issues.
Half full? Half empty? How do you view the proverbial “glass” when it comes to our economy? These past few years have given all of us reasons to question whether we are optimists or pessimists. No business or organization -- or family for that matter -- has been immune to the challenges we are facing. However, based upon what I know about our community, we have the ideas and leadership to make a difference ourselves. One answer lies in supporting local businesses which, in turn, means supporting jobs for ourselves, our neighbors and our children.
As president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, I am often asked about the state of our local economy. The past few years have been very tough. Every day, however, I work with business people who are not only focused on their own personal success, but on the success of their employees, their customers and Manatee County as a whole.
The Manatee Chamber of Commerce counts approximately 2,000 local businesses as members of our organization. We deliver more than 130 programs, initiatives and resources directed towards making local businesses stronger and Manatee County a fantastic place to live, work and play. Thanks to tremendous involvement by our members, these efforts have garnered state and national awards as well as national accreditation achieved by only 1 percent of chambers across the country.
I know that there is a direct relationship between business success and community quality of life. It is an equation that goes both ways. In order for businesses to be successful you need a strong quality of life.
Equally true is that in order to have a strong quality of life, you need successful businesses.
So, in addition to many programs designed to help businesses by delivering direct services like net- working, business promotion, customer attraction and education/training, the Manatee Chamber also uses considerable re- sources focused on quality of life issues like health care, roads, tourism, beautification, green/sustainability, preparing students for the future and many others.
Much of our programming is geared toward small businesses. Did you know that 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years in the United States were created by small businesses?
At the Manatee Chamber more than half of our members employ five or fewer. The past few years have put tremendous strain on these small businesses, but we can each do something to help.
It is incumbent upon all of us to support the local businesses that support jobs for local residents.
Please use the Manatee Chamber in your search for products and services. In addition to our online directory of local businesses (www.ManateeChamber.com), we have also created a website designed to help all local consumers find products and services.
Visit www.Local Quotes4U.com, fill out the convenient online form to tell us what you need, and let Manatee Chamber member businesses send quotes directly to you.
Save time, save money and support local businesses!
Robert P. Bartz, president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, can be reached at BobB@ManateeChamber.com or 941-748-3411.