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  • 05 Oct 2021 9:26 AM | Deleted user

    The Gulf Coast Builders Exchange (GCBX) supports a strong business environment and a strong community.  This means more than just quality jobs/careers or retention of businesses.  While those issues are hugely important and we support the local EDC’s and their leaders, Sharon Hillstrom with the Bradenton Area EDC, Mel Thomas the Economic Development Director in North Port and warmly welcome the leadership of Lisa Krouse with the Sarasota EDC,  we know that their jobs depend on a quality community and quality educational system to attract and retain businesses in the region.

    Sometimes with so much in the news these days, its important not to overlook important local issues that help produce a quality educational system and quality community.  One of these critical issues is the referendum for Manatee County Schools that will appear on the ballot this November 2021.  On March 20, 2018, the School Board of Manatee County asked voters to approve a 1-mill referendum in a special election. A majority of Manatee County voters approved the measure which provided approximately $37 million per year for school district operational needs.  Continuing the existing millage for funding of Manatee County Schools is important to ensure a quality educational system for students and ultimately the community.  While the continuation of the millage over the years has shown the support the community has for Manatee County Schools, I suggest we have an even greater appreciation for the school system throughout this pandemic.  We have seen firsthand how important it is for students to receive a quality education and how important the school system is for society as a whole and for working parents.  At GCBX we support continuation of this funding for Manatee County Schools and urge you to vote YES to continue this funding for Manatee County Schools.

    Then once you have voted YES for Manatee County Schools, this item will be on the Sarasota County ballot in March of 2022.  Again, for all the reasons stated above, lets ensure that students get the quality education they deserve and the community has the quality educational system that will help attract businesses that provide high wage/high skill careers to the region now and in the future.

    Then we implore you to focus on the Surtax Referendum in Sarasota County in November of 2022.  There will be a lot of election chatter in 2022 with Congressional races and other races on the ballot, so this referendum which directly effects the quality of life in Sarasota County may be easy to miss, but please don’t!  We have all seen the signs over the past 15 years showing the quality projects funded through this 1 CENT added to our local sales tax, a healthy portion of it paid by tourists to the area, has done for our community.  As someone who has been a resident of the community since 1979, I have always looked with curiosity and frankly a sense of excitement when I would see these signs and the projects which are improving our quality of life.  At GCBX we proudly support the Surtax Referendum and urge you to vote YES.  On this particular issue, we urge you to go one step further and participate in the ongoing meetings taking place around the County as they develop the list of projects that will be funded by the Referendum.  This is a real opportunity to have your voice heard and have an impact on the quality of life in Sarasota County.  Go to scgov.net to learn more about where these meetings are taking place and how you can get involved.

    At GCBX we are Proud to Build hospitals, libraries, fire stations and the businesses where you work as well other commercial spaces you visit regularly.  We are proud of our mission of Members Doing Business with Members to strengthen the local economy!


  • 05 Aug 2021 9:24 AM | Deleted user

    We all know the benefits and importance of spending our hard earned dollars locally to support the local economy.  We are reminded of it on days such as Small Business Saturday to counter the effects of exporting our dollars that occurs on Black Friday.  Or when local restaurants blend together just like the beautiful ingredients in their home grown and home cooked fare to remind us to eat local.  During the pandemic there has been an admirable effort to ensure that local businesses don’t close and local people don’t lose their jobs.  We have all wanted to do our part.

    The importance of doing business locally is not only something we should focus on when it comes to retail and hospitality, it is important in the Construction Industry also.  This is perhaps most important when it comes to spending your tax dollars.  Local governments and school boards bid out millions of dollars worth of capital projects each year.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 27,000 people are employed in the local construction industry.  These are your neighbors, your friends, the parents of your children’s friends.  Construction is an extremely important sector of the local economy. 

    When your tax dollars are spent with local design professionals and local general contractors on local projects, they in turn hire local sub-contractors.  Your tax dollars then circulate in the community at local shops, local restaurants and with local charities.  Your tax dollars don’t only build that government building or school, they strengthen your local community.

    Unfortunately, we are seeing a change in prioritizing local contractors and therefore the local economy with certain government entities, particularly the Manatee County School Board.  For many years, the Manatee School Board reaped the benefit of working with local contractors, resulting in some of the lowest school construction costs in the State of Florida.

    These schools were being designed and built by workers who in some cases called local schools their alma mater and who were now sending their children to local schools.  When punch list items needed correction, the team that worked on the school was still here locally and their local reputations and sense of pride were still here on the line.  They responded with pride of ownership in their community.  They supported local sport teams, local charities and yes, local referendums that supported higher wages for teachers and enhanced learning opportunities for students.

    Recently we have seen a change in this emphasis to use your tax dollars to do business locally.  Frankly, we are concerned and disappointed.   We hope this is just an anomaly, but we need assurance that local elected leaders and staff understand the importance of supporting businesses that have invested in the community and call this community home.  There is a track record of success using local contractors and a multiplier effect to your tax dollars that strengthens the entire community.

    When local governments prioritize doing business with local firms, their employees shop locally, dine locally and support local charities.  We hope our local elected officials don’t lose site of this important priority for the good of the whole community.


  • 10 Jun 2021 9:28 AM | Deleted user

    We all remember the shortages of toilet paper, disinfecting wipes and hand-sanitizer at the beginning of the pandemic.  Fortunately, those issues seem to be a distant memory, but supply and supply chain issues are hitting the local construction industry.

    Currently, issues with PVC pipe, steel and of course lumber are the main issues GCBX members are dealing with most significantly at the moment.  There are several reasons for the shortages as I understand them from the people dealing with this daily.  The most obvious are due to the pandemic and manufacturing plants either shutting down during lock downs or operating with fewer employees due to distancing requirements, etc., but that is not the whole story.

    As with many of the unusual issues we never knew or thought about prior to Covid, I’m learning a lot about the source of much needed supplies and supply chains.  It’s an interesting topic that many of us don’t think about on a daily basis, but a critical component of our economy that has been brought front and center of our attention this year (I definitely should have listened more closely during that economics course in college).

    The most obvious factor deals with the lock downs and winter in Northern States.  The need for supplies such as lumber up north was greatly diminished during the pandemic and the winter, but the obvious good news is that things are opening back up and construction is up and running again for our northern neighbors, but now they are also in the market for these supplies as manufacturers work to catch up with demand. According to GCBX members, when they receive a quote for lumber to price a job, the quotes are good for 5 hours!  Yes, you read that right, not 5 weeks, not 5 days, but 5 hours!  The price per board foot has risen from $367 to approx. $1600.

    The good news/bad news about steel is that a significant amount apparently comes from recycling things like stoves, washers, and dryers, etc.  That’s the good news, the bad news is that people did much less of that during the pandemic contributing to the current shortage and rising prices.

    I am told and a quick internet search seems to back up that there are relatively few PVC resin manufacturers in the U.S.  At least two of the main sources are in Texas.  The severe winter weather in Texas this year knocked these plants off-line and the resulting shortage is having very real effects on pipe in the local market.  Additionally, some of the production components necessary for pipe comes from China and India.  While India is dealing with devastating effects of the pandemic it has understandably had an impact on their production capabilities.  Chinese ships, according to the suppliers I speak to, must quarantine off the coast of the Port of Los Angeles and undergo decontamination before containers can be off loaded and then there is a shortage of CDL drivers to transport the materials once on shore.

    The bottom line is a job that was bid last October 2020 has risen 20% across the board.  To put that in perspective, if a commercial project was bid at $5M it is now $6M and most likely going up.

    While it’s easy to list the problems and hope the supply catches up with demand in the foreseeable future, it takes collaboration, creative thinking and compromise to deal with the current situation.  Fortunately, staff in both Manatee and Sarasota counties are doing just that. In Manatee County they have waived certain requirements for laser etching to identify EPDM pipe until Dec. 31 to make it easier to acquire this type of pipe just without the etching.  Sarasota County is also reaching out and working with the industry to see how they can bid projects with so many unknowns and variables in pricing and to still work with local contractors and make the best use of taxpayer dollars.  At GCBX we believe this may be accomplished by utilizing Construction Manager at Risk as opposed to hard bidding projects.  This will allow the General Contractor to work with the Architect from the beginning of the project to develop the most cost-effective budget for these projects and the taxpayers.

    To use the line so many of us have heard over the past 15 months, “we are all in this together”, we appreciate our colleagues in both counties that continue to work with the industry to seek collaborative solutions to a common problem.


  • 15 Mar 2021 10:11 AM | Deleted user

    Once upon a time, which I like to think was not that long ago, when you attended High School you had classes such as shop, auto mechanics and home economics as part of the offerings that you could take along with your academic requirements. Frankly, while my mother was an amazing and intelligent woman, domestic skills were not her strong suit. Probably the only reason I can sew a hem and do a few other basic things is because of the home economics class I took in High School. Often these classes just seemed like fun or they were an opportunity to be in a class with friends, but inevitably they taught you skills you could truly use in life and for some students they sparked a real interest that led them to continue on that track for career training.

    Vocational training in High School can make a real difference in the lives of young people. People learn differently and have unique skills and talents that should be recognized and nurtured. Training in the trades in the construction industry or training for manufacturing lead to excellent careers. For many reasons, not the least of which is the high cost of a four year degree that can result in excessive student loan debt, a little over 30% of high school graduates will not go to college according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and almost 40% of those who start a four year degree will not finish. We cannot accept numbers like this without a plan to change them and vocational training should be a part of that plan.

    Here locally, Sarasota Technical College and Manatee Technical College offer excellent programs that culminate in jobs and career opportunities upon graduation. Career Edge which is a part of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce offers fast-track programs at no cost to students which provides them the necessary training to get their foot in the door of a job day one after graduation. From there they receive more training and participate in apprenticeship programs that lead to solid careers.

    The apprenticeship program offered through the local Air Conditioning Association – MAACA offers further education while the apprentices are working and earning a living. They work, go to school and make it through different levels of training to obtain a certification called NATE – North American Technician Excellence which is recognized around the world. These graduates can take their dreams and ambitions anywhere they choose.

    At the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange we have many members that started their careers on the bottom rung of the ladder and now own the business! These business owners speak to young people in the schools to share their experiences and provide information about how to get training and get employed in their business. We also have met with Guidance and Career Counselors in both Manatee and Sarasota Counties to share this information so it can be a part of what they share with students about opportunities for their futures. Additionally, each year we conduct a Construction Career Rodeo and invite students from Manatee and Sarasota Counties to participate. The students get hands on experience at different stations put on by different companies and leave with information about how to apply for employment or in some cases with internship and apprenticeship opportunities before the day is over. We look forward to holding the next Construction Career Rodeo once it is deemed safe to hold these activities in schools again.

    If you know a young person (or adult) who would like to know more about the opportunities provided by CareerEdge, they can be reached at (941) 556-4038. The GCBX website, www.gcbx.org has a job board where job opportunities are listed and updated regularly. Let’s work together to ensure that gainful employment is an opportunity for everyone in our community.


  • 15 Jan 2021 9:20 AM | Deleted user

    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.


  • 04 Jan 2021 10:18 AM | Deleted user

    As we embark on 2021, we still have a long way to go for the health of our country’s citizens and the economy. We are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with the rollout of new vaccines and only hope that this will help us conquer the pandemic that has paralyzed the world.

    It will then be time to rebuild from the damage that was caused to individuals, families and businesses. At GCBX (Gulf Coast Builders Exchange) we represent the commercial contracting industry. While our members support many organizations and charities, GCBX supports them. So, while we know many people have suffered through this pandemic and we all need to do our part, our focus at GCBX is to support businesses that employ thousands in the community and support the local economy.

    To do the heavy lifting necessary to rebuild the local economy, we need government officials and bureaucracies to support and partner with businesses on the policies necessary to assist with the recovery of the local economy.

    We have seen local governments mobilize like never before in assisting citizens and businesses with grants and loans during the crisis, but the rebuilding stage hasn’t even begun and by all assessments it may take many years for the recovery.

    We have seen encouraging signs that local government and the business community are working together such as the extension of the temporary reduction of certain building permit fees. Each of the commercial construction projects affected by this policy employ potentially hundreds of individuals during construction phase and then long into the future once the structure/building is completed and the business is opened. Additionally, the business will pay taxes which ultimately benefit the entire community.

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    We need local governments and the community to focus on an economic development strategy that gives our area a competitive advantage for high-wage, high-skill jobs. We need to develop a plan we can all agree on and ultimately support. Our community has many assets that make it a desirable place to live and work, but we can’t depend on that to lure businesses to the area. We must work together to be competitive and provide the opportunities these jobs offer to the citizens of our region. These efforts will benefit the entire community for the long term.

    We need stability and leadership in local government. The city of Sarasota has taken a brilliant and decisive step in that direction by naming Marlon Brown interim city manager and Pat Robinson interim deputy city manager after City Manager Tom Barwin announced his retirement. Both of these individuals know the community well and have proven their leadership. We look forward to the positive impact they will have on the City of Sarasota. We only hope that the City of North Port will show the same type of leadership as it goes through the process of finding a new city manager.

    We are grateful that Manatee County has hit the pause button on discussing the potential termination of the county administrator. The discussions to terminate Cheri Coryea’s contract didn’t provide the stability necessary during these uncertain times. We look forward to her leadership and the leadership of the Manatee County Commission to guide the community over the course of the rebuilding process.

    First and foremost, we need to take care of the health of our community. This crisis isn’t over and we have to accept that, but we need to plan to rebuild and strengthen our community, businesses and families once the pandemic is behind us. Make no mistake, a healthy economy requires a healthy community, so please take all necessary measures to protect your health and the health of those around you.

    We hope the end of this crisis is within our grasp, but then we need to be prepared to rebuild and recover from the damage created and yes, while we are all in this together, it will take all of us to recover.


  • 10 Nov 2020 9:22 AM | Deleted user

    I learned long ago that what happens nationally is far beyond my ability to influence much less control. Perhaps that’s a good thing! Yet, on a local level, our voice is able to be heard and we can make a difference.

    Fortunately, we all made a difference when we elected Ron Tuner as Sarasota Supervisor of Elections and Mike Bennett as Manatee Supervisor of Elections. Our local election process was accessible, ran smoothly and by all accounts went off without a hitch even during the challenges of a pandemic. Voting is a sacred right in our country and both Supervisors, their staff and volunteers handled the process with the utmost professionalism and integrity. We are fortunate and our democracy depends on the work of these offices, so we owe them our appreciation for a job well done.

    Additionally, in our local area, Counties have been navigating unchartered waters in dealing with a pandemic and implementing policies to help those hardest hit. In April, the Sarasota County Commission authorized the Small Business Resiliency Loan Program and the use of $4.3M of economic incentive funding to assist the hardest hit businesses in the beginning of this crisis. The Sarasota EDC, with interim CEO Dave Bullock at the helm moved with lightning speed to bring all the necessary components of the program to the Commission for final approval. Even dealing with government bureaucracy this got off the ground within a month. The EDC reached out to community members with expertise that could assist with reviewing the loans and moving them through the process as expediently as possible. Helping local small businesses was the primary focus of the County Commission, County Staff and the Board and Staff of the EDC. They made a big impact at a time when Florida was under a stay at home order and small businesses were hardest hit. They too deserve our gratitude for a job well done.

    Both Manatee and Sarasota Counties have worked locally to waive, change or expedite regulations to assist businesses during this time. These county governments have had to deal with many of the same issues that those of us in the business community have faced with employees exposed to the virus and/or coming down ill with the virus. Yet, they have been working non-stop, many of them in the Emergency Operations Center to deal with challenges they were never trained for and certainly couldn’t predict, but these public servants have done there jobs with honor and integrity and a true focus on working to do what was best for the communities they serve. Again, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

    Most recently, both counties have been tasked to distribute much needed relief through funding from the CARES Act. While this is federal funding, just dealing with the U.S. Treasury Department eligibility guidelines (so the Counties aren’t on the hook for the money at the end) is a monumental task in and of itself! Yet, both counties have developed programs, developed an application process a review process and payment process that is in the process of distributing approximately $70M in CARES Act funding in each county, much of it going to individuals and businesses in need of assistance. While I can’t say that it has gone off without a hitch or two, I can say that when those hitches came up staff was quick to respond and made the necessary changes to ensure the smoothest possible process. Again, there was no playbook for any of this, just a commitment to serve the community and a focus on getting the job done to the best of their ability and with an emphasis on expediency to make a real difference in the lives of individuals and businesses.

    Our local elected officials and staffs are often easy targets for our frustrations, but it is times like these when I think we should step back and show our appreciation for these local public officials and their staff members and thank them for the behind the scenes work they do that make a real difference in making the community better, especially during these tough times.


  • 01 Oct 2020 9:14 AM | Deleted user

    2020 has certainly been a tragic year, a tragic year for the economy and a tragic year for the many families impacted by illness and job loss. I’ve had people say to me, please stop saying we are “all in this together”, but we are all in this together. The pain of families who experience illness and loss from the virus is felt by all of us, by now I suspect we all know someone personally. We all play a part in getting through this, getting past this and getting to the point where we remember with sadness the year that was 2020.

    Yet, through it all, fortunately, the local contracting industry has continued working and kept the local economy strong and kept employees working. Those workers in turn purchased take out dinners for their families, bought lunch during the work day, purchased clothing for their children to return to school. So, to get to the point I’m making, these workers kept the engine of the local economy running.

    According to a recent article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, construction of multifamily homes hit an all time high in 2018 and then dipped in 2019, but has since rebounded with 612 permits as of June of this year.

    The article further went on to state, “Sarasota County also experienced an 80.7% increase in the number of new commercial permits in fiscal year 2020 compared to the previous year. The estimated construction value of fiscal year 2020’s permits also increased by 54% with a total value of $100 million”. That is $100 million invested in the local community. That investment means real jobs for real people both during construction and long term in those commercial properties. Those jobs keep our community strong during difficult times and sustainable long into the future. In order for a community to thrive, it must grow. This commercial growth will help our community weather future downturns, but in the meantime the construction industry has helped keep countless number of businesses, municipal government employees and countless ancillary businesses afloat during the current crisis.

    So, yes we are all in this together and as an industry we have focused on keeping employees working and supporting local businesses whenever and however possible. At GCBX we have encouraged our members to shop at local establishments, get take out or safely dine at local restaurants and buy materials as much as possible from local businesses. We are a local trade association, so our mantra of “Members Doing Business with Members” means investment in the local economy that helps all of us.

    We look forward to the day that our community is completely and safely “open for business” once again. That everyone who has lost a job is gainfully employed again and anyone looking for work can find it. Too many families have been devastated financially. Which brings me to my second point in this article, which is Amendment 2, the ballot initiative on the November ballot that seeks to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. Now, I must say that initially I personally didn’t think this was an issue for the Commercial Contracting Industry to weigh in on since average wages in the industry are over $15.00/hour. I just don’t think as an industry we have to swing at every pitch, but I have to say I have changed my mind over the past few months. My mother taught me that timing is important in life and I have come to realize the time for this amendment just isn’t right. Local restaurants have been some of the hardest hit businesses and now hitting them with this type of wage increase will be the final nail in the coffin for many and many more jobs will be lost. Additionally, according to those in the restaurant and lodging industry, servers wages with tips already exceeds $15.00 per hour. The economy and families will take a long time to recover from the pandemic and the resulting price increases from this initiative will only exacerbate the situation. So, frankly for so many reasons the timing of this Amendment just isn’t right. Lets get people back to work. Let businesses get back on their feet. Lets work together to recover and rebuild. At GCBX we have decided to Vote No on Amendment 2 and we encourage you to also Vote No.


  • 28 Jul 2020 12:30 PM | Deleted user

    By Mike Bennett

    As Manatee’s Supervisor of Elections, and as a former state of Florida Senator, I sincerely hope you exercise your patriotic duty and vote in the August primary and November general elections. As important as the upcoming elections are, I am writing today regarding another very important and patriotic duty. I need you to participate in our national census. A very simple but extremely important request of you and all Floridians: Fill out and return today the census form you should have all received.

    Why should you, you may ask? Because it is critically important to our local community that all of us do so in order to provide accurate data, which will affect local, state and national programs and funding for the next 10 years. Many people may not be aware of the extensive list of things impacted by census data. A U.S. Census Bureau report lists over 130 programs that receive funds based on the census data. These range from school lunches to highway planning and construction, disaster recovery to senior services, veterans’ services to small business development, beach renourishment and beyond.

    Click here to read more stories about the 2020 census.

    In addition to providing a basis for allocation of funding, the census data is also extremely important for county government; emergency management operations; hospitals, fire and police departments; and both large and small businesses. The data allows those entities to project and plan to meet the needs of their constituencies and customers.

    As if these were not reasons enough, the results of this once-a-decade count determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. The data is also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Manatee County currently has a 56% response rate for the census. That is a bit below the rate of 62% for the U.S. We need to be more like Balltown, Iowa or North River, North Dakota, who both have 100% compliance. Granted, those communities have a smaller population than we do, but if they can do it, so can we!

    Normally, representatives from the census would be knocking on your door by now, but the pandemic continues to interfere with those plans. The census form is very simple and should take no more than a few minutes to complete. Please do your patriotic duty and complete and return your census form today.

    If you have lost the form that was mailed to your house, then please either call the hotline at 844-330-2020 or go online to my2020census.gov and follow the very simple instructions that are available in over 50 different languages.

    If you care about our country and our state, please do this for for me, for you, for your family and for Florida.

    Click here for article

  • 27 Jul 2020 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    By Mary Dougherty

    It’s hard to believe we are half way through 2020 and the pandemic and the uncertainty created by it are still looming large in our collective psyche. I saw a cartoon on Facebook that said “I need my thundershirt” to watch the news and it was a sentiment I certainly understood.

    So, what can we do? On a national level, I’m not really sure. On a local level, perhaps a lot. I don’t believe we need our elected leaders to tell us what to do to protect one another, be respectful of one another and exhibit common sense. Let’s be clear: I’m not a medical professional, my first major in college was bio-chemistry (back in the day), so that truly only qualifies me to have my informed personal opinion and nothing else.

    What can we do on a local level, we can exhibit common sense. Stay a polite physical distance from one another, wash your hands like never before and yes, wear a mask (at GCBX we have been giving out masks and hand sanitizer free to our members since March). We should we do this because we can have an impact on our local area. We may not be able to affect what’s happening in Texas, Arizona or Brazil for that matter, but we can protect the area we call home. Providers in families need to work and we must all do our part to keep the economy open while not just flattening the curve but crushing the curve. A healthy community is good for business.

    I for one can’t wait until the day when we say “remember the pandemic,” but it’s going to take all of us. People without jobs and without the prospect of a job due to this uncertainty are being disproportionally hit by this pandemic. Once we work together to get past this there are excellent careers in the construction industry and numerous opportunities to take a step toward that career. In partnership with CareerEdge there are programs, apprenticeships and internships that can jumpstart those opportunities.

    At GCBX (Gulf Coast Builders Exchange), many of our members have been deemed essential businesses. We are grateful. We, along with other business groups, such as Visit Sarasota, are focusing on efforts to support the local hospitality and tourism industry that have been hit so hard. We are encouraging our members to pick up those take out meals, dine at a local restaurant (following all safety protocols), visit local attractions, and consider a “staycation” for a change of scenery.

    We may not be able to affect things on a global or national level, but we can do our part to support our local economy, and those fortunate enough to continue to work should consider it our civic duty. Food pantries are overwhelmed, so please donate. If you’ve recovered from COVID-19, please consider donating convalescent plasma.

    Yes, there’s an election coming up in the midst of all this. Our Supervisors of Elections are having difficulty finding poll workers through this pandemic, so if you don’t believe in vote by mail, volunteer to be a poll worker. If you’re okay with vote-by-mail, go to the Supervisor of Election website (Manatee – www.votemanatee.com, Sarasota – www.sarasotavotes.com, Charlotte – www.charlottevotes.com) and request a vote-by-mail ballot.

    Let’s all do our part to get to the stage where we say “remember the pandemic.” When compared to what the Greatest Generation was asked to do to support the war effort in WWII, it really isn’t much. We may not affect areas outside our region, but we can show Manatee/Sarasota/Charlotte Strong!

    Let’s do this for everyone’s good. For the good of working families, for the good of local businesses and yes, for the good of the construction industry. It all goes together.

    Click here for article.

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