Get Outside!

This beautiful weather always inspires me to get outside more. My husband’s an amateur photographer, so I just take my book and wander along while he photographs wildlife. It’s about the only way I get any fresh air!

Then yesterday, Terri Behling from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) brought in some brochures for SWFWMD’s new Get Outside campaign. The tri-fold brochure (which you can download at showcases 54 different parks owned and operated by the District. It’s a great little cheat sheet of which parks have birding trails, allow dogs, offer fishing opportunities, etc.

Now I have more places to check out! Besides Robinson Preserve, which I have not yet made it to, I plan to work my way through the list and visit all of the parks in our area. They say that a simple way to boost your brain power and improve health is to get fresh air and I know I don’t do enough of that. And interaction with nature reduces depression, promotes, healing, sparks creativity, and even increases life expectancy. Win-win-win opportunity.

Walking through parks in the Florida winter weather is definitely my favorite way to get outside. Do you have a park recommendation for our area? What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

I Am Not Surprised

A recent study, commissioned by the Knight Foundation ranked Bradenton #1 among 25 U.S. cities,  in terms of emotional attachment to a community.  I am not surprised. After 19 years as a resident of Bradenton, I am still in awe of the beauty of this place.  Clear blue skies, soft sandy beaches and a  lush green landscape create a perfect canvas from which other amazing things emerge.  I am mesmerized by the Gulf of Mexico, the Manatee River, and the many canals and bayous here, each with their own distinct personality and beauty.

For me, this connection is deep.  It is part of my emotional attachment to Bradenton, and suspect it is for others in our community as well.  I also appreciate the community spirit that exists here.  People are friendly, straightforward and down-to-earth.   We are a community of invested and active participants.  We don’t just talk about what to do, we figure out a plan, we roll up our sleeves and we get to work!  From an economic development  perspective, it is important to determine what ties residents to their community, as there is a correlation between emotional attachment, community vitality and economic growth.

In fact, quality of life is a recurring reason that many companies choose to locate here.  Abundant natural beauty and an emotionally invested community provide great marketing tools for the Manatee EDC.  The EDC will capitalize on these and other fine attributes in new and innovative ways.  We will also work to better those areas that need improvement.   Our end goal is to effectively deliver the message domestically and internationally, that Manatee County is a great place to live and work.

2010 Manatee Chamber Board of Director Announced

The following Chamber members and community leaders have been elected and chosen to serve on the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for 2010.

Executive Committee

Chairman of the Board, Chris Pennewill, Superior Bank

Immediate Past Chairman, Mac Carraway, SMR Farms

Chairman-Elect, Jim Vett, Vanguard Advanced Pharmacy Systems                                                            

Vice Chairman Community Development, Darrell Turner, Turner Tree & Landscape

Vice Chairman Economic Development, Jonathan Fleece, Blalock, Walters, Held & Johnson, P.A.

Vice Chairman Membership Development, Rose Carlson, Bright House Networks

Vice Chairman Public Policy, John Horne, Anna Maria Oyster Bar

Treasurer, Tom Seguin, Suncoast Gem Labs


Directors selected for three-year terms are:

Ron Crowder, Crowder Bros. Ace Hardware

Trevor Gooby, Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Club

Brian Kennelly, LWR Commercial Realty, LLC

Sandy Kirkpatrick, Investor

George Manson, Manson Roofing, Inc.

Tom Seguin, Suncoast Gem Lab


Directors selected for one-year terms are:

Betsy, Benac WilsonMiller, Inc.

Rick Bisio, Franchoice Consulting

Rose Carlson, Bright House Network

Rae Dowling, Florida Power & Light

Chris Locke, University of Miami

Mike Maddaloni, Beall’s Department Stores Inc.

Alina Mugford, The Translation Link, LLC

Marc Simms, RPM Business Advisors, LLC

Brion Sunseri, Ad-VANCE Personnel Services

John Vita, Morgan Stanley

EDC Chairman, Jonathan Fleece, Blalock, Walters, Held & Johnson, P.A.


Returning 2010 Directors are:

Edward Bailey, NAACP

Mike Burton, Environmental Aquatic Control

Mac Carraway, SMR Farms

Mike Eiffert, Galati Yacht Sales

John Horne, Anna Maria Oyster Bar

Susan Kopstad, Stanley-Lambert Wines

Melynda Lee, Tidewell Hospice & Palliative Care Inc.

Trudy Moon, Air & Energy

Michele Morgan, Keiser University

Will Robinson, Blalock, Walters, Held & Johnson, P.A.

Darrell Turner, Turner Tree & Landscape

Jim Vett, Vanguard Advanced Pharmacy Systems

Kerry Ward, Wachovia Bank, N.A.

Ribbon Cutting – Cruise Planners

Cruise Planners

Ribbon Cutting

We at Cruise Planners specialize in Individual Cruises Family Cruises Group Cruises, including family reunion, Church groups, Business functions. Honeymoon cruises.If water is not your thing, we offer a  variety of land based vacations.

Our office is here to serve you 24/7.

Taken from the Cruise Planners website.

Member to Member Discount Spotlight

Looking to save money?  Invest in a Chamber member… they’ve invested in our community!

Shredding Discounts
The end of the year is approaching, which may mean you have documents that need to be destroyed.  Safeguard your personal information – and that of your customers – by using a member shredding company. Sarasota Document Shredding offers 25% off to Manatee Chamber Members.

Holiday Hairstyle
The holidays are just around the corner (eek!) and you’ll want to look your best. Cutting Loose Salon ( gives Members 10% off services and products. And Treatments Day Spa ( will give you 10% off your first service, 15% off the fifth, and 20% off the 11th service (excludes products).

Head on over to the Member to Member Discount area to find more great deals.  You’ll need to log in using the first four characters of your company name and the last four digits of your main phone number.

Want to offer a discount?  Post a comment here for our blog readers AND I’ll be sure to put it on the Member to Member Discount page as well.

Why I Do This

During the last few months I’ve started a new job in beautiful Manatee County, Florida.  In those months I’ve met many wonderful people here, learned my way around, and discovered all of the economic resources that I have to work with.  It’s been a heck of a lot of hard work, and we developed a first draft of a 5-year strategic plan in this time period.

Also during that time I’ve reflected on what’s important in this economic development field to me.  You know, the why I do this.  I’m a believer that things happen for a reason and now know why I was exposed to just about every working environment imaginable while trying to work my way through school.  At the time I felt damned but now I know that I was blessed.  Before my first economic development job, I bagged groceries, ran a cash register, sold clothes, cleaned a machine shop, loaded trucks, waited tables, managed a mail room, bussed tables, mowed lawns, operated a jackhammer, called people and sold them stuff they didn’t want, laid brick, shoveled mud, and worked in an iron casting department.  Its just nice to be down to one job.  When I think of the friends that I worked with that depend on people like me to make sure their employer doesn’t move to another state and to bring in new businesses to keep the economy ticking, it easily reminds me of the great value of this business.  I’ve also found that half of those jobs that I once had to get by on can’t even be found in those places anymore because the economy changed and those communities did nothing to keep up with the change or things happened in the economy that were out of their control.  That’s a lot of what drives me to do economic development, if not everything.

There’s good with the bad in this field.  I get blamed for stuff that has nothing to do with me.  I get credit for things I had no hand in.  And every once in a while something really special happens and new jobs are posted because the organization that I run called the right person at the right time and asked them to locate their business here.  That’s why I do this.

Call Them Back… Because You Just Never Know

I was speaking with Luther Christie of Christie’s Landscaping the other day.  He had some questions about his membership information and how to get a bigger presence on the web.  After reviewing the business description form and adding a link to his website, the discussion got around to the LocalQuotes4U Tool.

Luther doesn’t actually do lawn service per se.  He primarily does residential landscape renovations.  But the Manatee Chamber categorical listings lump “Lawn and Landscape Contractors and Maintenance” into one category.  And he thinks that’s just fine.  I was explaining to him that it’s better to have broader categories because too many quote requests are better than too few.  His response?

“Call people that call you”.

Simple but brilliant.  Call them all back.  Open a dialog.  Get your name out there and let them know who you are and what services you DO provide.  One of the first things I learned after starting at the Manatee Chamber nearly ten years ago is that people like to do business with people they know.  Luther Christie doesn’t mind getting requests that don’t pertain to him because it gives him a chance to meet people who might need his services in the future.

Let them get to know you.  You never know where it might lead.