Eighty percent of the domestic job growth in our country comes from the small- to medium-size business community. Which is why as the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, we focus on connecting, supporting, and promoting local businesses.
Running a business is a 24-hour, 365-day a year endeavor for those individuals who have the fortitude and tenacity to put their own capital on the line to operate a business. At the Chamber, we are dedicated to helping these entrepreneurs as an anchor of support, advocate and resource for business-building programs and services.
We recently held one of our largest events of the year – our Frank G. Berlin Sr. Small Business Awards, presented by the Herald-Tribune. This event was designed to celebrate and honor 27 local businesses in nine award categories. Each incredible business shared their own special and unique story of how they strived to achieve their success. With attendance at the event well over 500, the Chamber was able to amplify the best practices of these organizations as they engage with the community, customers, and employees. Many of these businesses fly under the radar, and yet contribute greatly to Sarasota being recognized as a world class community.
We are honored to congratulate the winners and finalists, and we thank them for creating jobs, products, and services, and for giving back generously to support the local region and beyond.
• Large Business Award (150+ employees) sponsored by Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP: Winner, PGT Innovations; Bank of America; Trulieve.
• Medium Business Award (25-150 employees) sponsored by Grapevine Communications: Winner, J2 Solutions, Inc.; Ramos Center for Interventional and Functional Pain Medicine; Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spas.
• Small Business Award (1-25 employees) sponsored by Sarasota Bradenton International Airport: Winner, Trade Mark Interiors; IAS Marketing Services; Wealth Strategies Partners.
• Community Impact Award sponsored by Kerkering, Barberio & Co.: Winner, Lightspeed Voice; Catalist Realty; Michael Saunders & Company.
• Minority Business Award sponsored by Bank of America: Winner, Around the Way Transportation; Abundant Blessing Consulting Services, LLC; King HR Services Inc.
• Non-Profit Award sponsored by Hyatt Regency Sarasota: Winner, Children First; Senior Friendship Centers; Teen Court of Sarasota, Inc.
• Rising Star Award sponsored by HH Staffing Services: Winner, Dapper Bowtique; Atlas Fiduciary Financial, LLC; Bone Dry Roofing.
• Woman-Owned Business Award sponsored by Herald-Tribune: Winner, Grapevine Communications; Luhrsen Goldberg, Law Powered By Women; Operation Warrior Resolution.
• Workforce Development & Innovation Award sponsored by Lakewood Ranch Medical Center: Winner, Goodwill Industries Manasota, Inc.; 360 Orthopedics; HBK CPAs & Consultants.
The Sarasota Chamber is also in tune with issues that affect the business community, such as the dire need for affordable housing in the Sarasota region. Under the leadership of Dennis Murphy, chairman of the board, we recently launched and held the first meeting of our affordable housing task force. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School, nearly one in three households spend more than 30% of their income on housing. This means that this segment of our community is extremely vulnerable, living on the edge of losing everything. Affordable housing in Sarasota and surrounding areas is a major issue that requires the convening of business and community leaders to come up with creative solutions. Without affordable housing, it is becoming increasingly hard for Sarasota to attract talent at all levels to live and work here.
We are pleased to announce our next State of the Community event topic is on smart cities. Smart cities develop, deploy, and promote technology-driven, business-focused, sustainable development practices to address growing urban challenges. On July 19 at the Carlisle Inn, the Chamber will be hosting its very first State of the Community event focused on smart cities entitled, “The Keys to Understanding a Smart City: Is Sarasota Smart?”
We will be hosting an informative panel of leaders representing key areas of smart city development: Shelia Roberson, Business Operations, Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, Sarasota County Government; Steve Cover, Planning Director, City of Sarasota; and Angel Garcia, Vice President, Enterprise and GEMS Sales, Hotwire Communications. How a city functions to address its infrastructure directly impacts local businesses and the workforce they can attract. We look forward to learning how Sarasota is working to improve our existing infrastructure and how renewing the surtax is part of the solution.
As you can see, at the Sarasota Chamber we are focused on the growth and development of our region. We work hard to support our member businesses who play a pivotal role in making Sarasota strong. We continue to work on uniting diverse voices across the region, finding innovative solutions to issues, and to amplifying the voice of business in discussions involving the future of our great community.
Heather Kasten is the president/CEO of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and has been with the organization since March of 2019. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in business administration and a MBA from Webster University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.