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Economic Development Needs to be a Team Sport

15 Jan 2021 9:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

As part of my professional responsibilities, I attended the July 9, 2019 Sarasota County Commission Meeting and listened with great interest as the Board discussed and offered guidance for Economic Development in Sarasota County.

This discussion is obviously of great interest to the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange (GCBX) and the Commercial Contracting Industry and should be of great interest to the entire community as we seek to reduce the threshold of ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) households from 23% to as close to zero as possible.  Even more startling is that 37% of households are below the ALICE threshold and 9% are below the poverty level.  Additionally, 47% of Sarasota County school children are on free or reduced lunch. We should strive to bring these numbers down as close to zero as possible and we obviously have work to do!

Economic Development needs to be a team sport with the entire community behind it and supporting it.  It not only grows the tax base of the county so we all benefit, but provides opportunities that families need and deserve.  Not to mention keeping good paying jobs in the commercial construction industry busy and thriving.

The discussion was lively and clearly had the good of all residents and the community at the heart.  This one is TV well worth watching and I encourage you to do so.  It is available at scgov.net.

This should be a call for “all hands on deck” to decide on and develop a plan that is specific to the unique assets and needs of Sarasota and its citizens.  We have an incredible group of business professionals in the region that are ready to come together to make this change along with the team at the EDC that can lead this charge!

Additionally, there is discussion in the community about coming together and forming a partnership of all interested and affected groups in the community to provide input into the future of economic development in the County.  This is a model that has been successfully utilized in other communities and could provide some valuable visioning for the future of Sarasota County. We should all get behind this concept.

Many of us who have been here for a significant amount of time lived through the “great recession” a few years back.  Those of us in the construction industry remember well the devastating effect it had on families and businesses.  The numbers mentioned above illustrate that there is still need in the community to grow and diversify the local economy for good times and tough times.  There were many valuable lessons that came from that awful recession and these discussions show that we listened, we learned and we are ready to continue to take action to be better, stronger and more diverse than before.

At GCBX we welcome these discussions and support strong economic growth not just for our industry but for a strong and prosperous community.

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