Regional Marketplace with Global Access
Facebook. LinkedIn. MySpace. The list goes on. The online networking world is upon us. While the above social networking sites are popular, they are primarily just that - social outlets. However, energizemybiz.com is a marketplace that allows users to grow business, stimulate local buying and connect with businesses from around the world.
The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Small Business Council and its Sarasota Tomorrow initiative have partnered with The Venice Area Chamber of Commerce to launch a localized, co-branded Fast Pitch! virtual community to connect area businesses with more than 200,000 members worldwide, all free of charge.
Funded by a generous Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice grant, the program launched January 30 gives greater Sarasota businesses the opportunity to boost exposure by connecting to a local, national and international network of businesses.
- Energizemybiz.com gives Sarasota and Charlotte County businesses within 10 miles of our southern border free access to unparalleled features that support business.
- Members of the online community can send and receive connection requests, participate in live chats, create and join networking groups, and much more.
- The RBRC a collaborative project of area business organizations, educational institutions and public entities committed to supporting the growth and development of new and existing businesses and fostering entrepreneurship.
- The Energizemybiz.com virtual community is one step in a three-part technology initiative which also includes a regional, interactive Web site and teleconferencing centers.
- Members on the online community will also have access to additional features: online press distribution, blog promotion, email marketing, search engine optimization, classified and text ads, virtual trade shows, profile statistics and video posting.
Additional Partners: Additional partners of the RBRC include: Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, North Port Area Chamber of Commerce, Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, Englewood Cape Haze Chamber of Commerce, Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau, SCORE and Sarasota County Libraries.
Sarasota Institute for the Ages
In response to the rapidly increasing older population in America, SCOPE is coordinating a broad-scale effort to create a national institute in Sarasota to harness the opportunities and address the demographic realities. The institute will focus on rethinking the way individuals make transitions from one life stage to the next and how communities adapt and evolve to be reflective of their demographics.
The proposed Sarasota Institute for the Ages (SIA) will undertake bold initiatives that will promote inquiry, reflection and research ways to optimize a community’s responses to significant demographic shifts in the U.S. The SIA’s overall intent is to identify and create actions that improve economic and societal life.
The SIA is comprised of five major components:
- Think Tank – A “place” where scholars, researchers, artists, etc. will maintain active dialogues and increase the understanding of this issue
- “Do” Tank – Execute and implement ideas from the “think tank”
- Age Force – Maintain annual and ongoing dialogues in discussing techniques and initiatives special to corporate, small business, nonprofits and governments
- Training and Consulting – Share SIA’s experiences and knowledge base in addition to consulting other communities and their residents
- Medical and Life Sciences – Stimulate research among local hospitals and medical facilities and connect existing businesses in an effort to further develop existing assets
The SIA will serve as both a “think tank” and “do tank” in the following areas (to name a few):
- Individual approaches for the second half of life
- Public policy that reflects the demographic reality
- Research practices that can maximize true contributions of all age sectors
- Application of design standards for place that help preserve function and increase community connection
- The development of aging specific products and services
Community Benefits: The benefits to the greater Sarasota community are estimated to be many. From the Medical and Life Sciences segment alone, an estimated 706-758 jobs till be created.
BUSINESS = EDUCATION - HOT ISSUE
You + Business = Education
Vote "YES" March 16 - School Board Referendum GET OUT AND VOTE!
Five reasons to vote YES:
• HIGHER PROPERTY VALUES
• SECURE JOBS
• BETTER EDUCATION
• EFFICIENTLY MANAGED
• NO TAX INCREASE
Most of us hate taxes. We work hard, or we’re trying to maintain a decent standard of living based on what we’ve saved during a lifetime of hard work. Then every year we hand over a big chunk of the proceeds from that hard work in the form of property taxes to agencies that may or may not have a benefit for us. And sometimes we even get media reports of waste, dishonesty, and ineffectuality in our government agencies—our money down the drain or providing jobs for large government staffs that fail to produce.
If only there were an agency that did its job well, stayed lean and hard-working, and delivered a result that made all our lives better. What if that agency employed high quality professionals dedicated to their work and clients? And, best ever, suppose we could have the benefit of that amazing agency without a tax increase!
Congratulations! You have that agency right now: The Sarasota County School District
Why should you care?
Why should you care about the condition of Sarasota County’s public schools? What difference does public education make to a place that abounds in beauty, arts, culture, and, well, sun and sand? Does it get your goat when you hear the school system is asking you to vote to renew a millage tax—a tax paid on the assessed value of your home—to pay for services you think you shouldn’t have to support?
Let’s look at the most fundamental question any local resident might have about millage rates and education—Why? There are five reasons this issue affects you:
• Higher property values
• Secure jobs
• Better education
• Efficiently managed
• NO tax increase
If you’re like most people, your home is your biggest single financial investment. The value of your home is the largest component of your net worth. One of the most significant contributors to residential property values is the quality of the public schools: no one willingly moves to places where they can’t get good education for their children. In fact, there is no community with failing schools that has increasing property values. So good schools give you a better chance at higher net worth.
Besides, the kids in these schools today will soon be your doctor, your pharmacist, your attorney, your banker, your mechanic, or your county commissioner. The better they are prepared, the better your quality of life.
Steady Job Base
Education is the bedrock of business. A community that provides a well-educated pool of workers from which businesses hire their employees is a community that doesn’t lack in a diversified economy. Businesses are often attracted to a community specifically because it provides well-trained and well-educated workers. Businesses today are looking for an edge. They are looking for workers who have excellent fundamental skills in math, technology, science, and the humanities.
These fundamental, yet high-level capabilities do not come from second-rate educational facilities. They come from school systems which continue to push their dollars into the classroom and teachers, not into padded administrative costs.
Greater Sarasota is working hard to turn around an economy based on residential building that for years created sufficient jobs and sufficient seasonal employment to meet its needs. But the ongoing economic downturn has been enough to show our county leaders that placing most of your eggs in one economic basket is not smart. Here’s where business and education meet—at the crossroads of opportunity—producing a diverse and flexible workforce that meets the needs of entrepreneurs in fields such as computer and electronic technology, as well as expanding industries such as medical and environmental or “green” technology.
Quality of Education
Sarasota County’s public schools have been producing stellar students for decades. Yet the costs of continuing to improve curricula, to promote technological and scientific excellence, to advance professional development for staff and teachers, and to arm our local officials with the information they need to entice business to locate or expand in a place where education is a high priority—well, these things require sustained dollars and remarkable focus.
Let’s look at the stats1:
Over all grade levels, Sarasota County School District students had average Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) reading scores 6%-12% higher than the state average and FCAT math scores 4%-12% higher. Their SAT reading scores were 23% higher than the state average; math scores were 26% higher; writing scores were 21% higher. So the district turns out a superlative product.
Responsible School Spending
We’re an A school district, according to the Florida Board of Education, which evaluates schools state-wide. The Sarasota County School District received the What Parents Want award, a distinction given only 15% of schools nation-wide. One of our schools, Pine View, was ranked sixth highest performing school in Florida by US News & World Report.2
State funding? The State of Florida ranks 41st out of the 50 states in investing in our schools, so no help there.3 Without continuation of the 1 mill there will be severe budget cuts. These may include:
- increasing class size4;
- reducing or eliminating technology programs;
- cutting courses and specialized programs such as music, art, dual enrollment and advanced placement courses, summer school, and dropout prevention programs;
- instituting fees and reducing or eliminating extracurricular activities such as athletics, band, and clubs;
- teacher pay cuts of at least 13%.
On the management side you should know that about 73% of all funds goes directly to schools; the other 17% goes to support—and that includes our charter schools. The district has the highest bond ratings of any school district in the State of Florida, and a Financial Oversight Committee, comprising community business leaders, sees to it that the district continues its exemplary performance on audits by independent CPAs and the State Auditor General.
Economical? For perspective: average per-student spending nationwide in 2009 was $9,963. In Sarasota County the average was $8,707.5
Not A New Tax
You currently pay one-tenth of a cent on every dollar of your home’s assessed value to support the Sarasota County School District. You’ve been paying that tenth-of-a-cent (called a mill) for years—probably as long as you’ve lived here—and in 2006 you voted to continue paying that mill to keep the schools in Sarasota County strong. Voting Yes will continue funding at the current level: e.g., 1 mill = $100 for a $100,000 house.6 This is projected to raise $40 million-$50 million per year. This will not increase your taxes.
Are you making the connections yet between your life in Sarasota and the need to properly fund your local schools? No? Then let’s talk about what you’ll miss if you choose not to properly support public education.
1. People who hold jobs in banks, restaurants, small mom-and-pop businesses, larger industries such as insurance and the like are people who need to send their children to public schools. Private education doesn’t even rank in what they can afford to do. Many will choose to pack up and move to other places where the cost of living matches their salary capabilities. Now, who’s going to take the place of all those low to moderate income folks who would rather live in Ocala or Tallahassee or even Atlanta or Charlotte?
2. School enrollment will drop. We saw that happen when our local builders and all the associated workers left town and took their spouses and children with them when they relocated to Ocala and Tallahassee and even Atlanta and Charlotte.
3. Poor schools? Businesses know that poor schools are economic death. In a world where ditch-diggers are skilled labor operating heavy machinery, there’s no room for unskilled or poorly trained workers. Poor schools can’t produce good, local human resources, and poor schools make it hard to hire good people from outside because most workers have children, and they want those children in good schools.
4. Poor schools? Your quality of life gets worse and worse. A poorly prepared workforce means fewer services, more unemployed workers, fewer opportunities for recreation and the arts, more crime. If you ever want to put a community into a death spiral, neglect the public schools.
5. Without continuation of the 1 mill there will be severe budget cuts. These may include larger classes, fewer technology programs, loss of courses and programs, fees for athletics and other extra-curricular activities, and teacher pay cuts.
What can you do?
You and business can work together. First, in the March election, vote YES on the referendum to continue the current mill levy from 2010-2014. Next, talk with your neighbors and friends, and ask them to support the extension of the 1 mill levy. Explain that this is a painless way of securing a better Sarasota today and tomorrow.
This isn’t a tax increase; you have been paying this mill for years. Continue your support of the Sarasota County Schools by voting Yes on the 1 mill extension, and continue funding Sarasota County’s educational excellence.
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2. www.sarasotacbs.com/about-sarasota-county-schools/: 84% of our schools (and a whopping 95% of our elementary schools) received an A or B grade at the 2009 evaluation.
3. the State of Florida’s financial support for schools withered by more than $80 million over the past two years and is expected to shrink further in the next two years.
4. The requirements under the class size amendment only deal with core subjects such as reading and math. Elective classes, arts, and physical education will overpopulate substantially, if the referendum does not pass.
5. What do we call “lean”? Our school district accomplishes its mission to educate 41,501 students with 5,224 total employees, only 211 of whom are administrators. The rest are instructional (teachers) and support (i.e., custodial and housekeeping, food service, counseling, etc.) professionals.
6. With a $25,000 homestead exemption, the owner of a house valued at $300,000 would pay $275, or approximately 75¢ per day.