Spring Time = Spring Fling Time!

With all this cold weather, it’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner.  To help usher in this wonderful time of year, the Manatee Chamber is holding the Spring Fling Business Expo on Thursday, March 4th, at our Lakewood Ranch Office at the McClure Center.  Last year’s event was so much fun that we just had to do it again!  This year, though, we’re adding even more fun by holding a silent auction featuring items from many of our participating members.   I’m talking jewelry, vacations, restaurants, specialty services, and so much more!  We’ll also have Suncoast Gem Lab onsite to weigh your gold and write you a check…on the spot.  There is going to be so much going on you won’t want to miss anything!  And best of all, there is no cost to attend this event.

So come on out and join me for complimentary appetizers, music, cash bar, an opportunity to win some wonderful auction items, and network with hundreds of Chamber members and guests.  I hope to see you on Thursday, March 4th, from 4:00-7:00 PM, at our Lakewood Ranch Office at the McClure Center, 4215 Concept Court.

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Gearing up for Panama

If you are like me, the only things you knew about Panama was that it was a really good Van Halen song in the 80’s and something about a canal down there that the United States was a former owner.  Well, now as an economic developer I’ve come to learn of the importance of Panama both for connecting to other continents in international trade and for establishing export partners.
In order to establish business connections with those that could help us increase our business at Port Manatee, Manatee County will be sending a delegation to Panama next week.  I will be a member of the delegation so I am getting prepared for this trip as I write this.
The conventional wisdom is that the Panama Canal expansion will be completed in 2014 and will give eastern US deep water ports and opportunity for more business that traditionally would have come in to the west coast ports.  Even a one percent increase would be a substantial amount of business to be created.  Since Port Manatee is the nearest deep water port to the Panama Canal, Manatee County has an excellent opportunity to secure some of this new business.  This new business would in turn create many more jobs which is what is of the most interest to the EDC.
Because Florida and Panama have such strong trade connections, its also going to be worthwhile to speak to people in Panama that can connect us with companies that could buy goods from Manatee County businesses.  There will be future opportunities for Manatee County companies to visit Panama as a delegation in order to seek business opportunities so this mission will be very helpful toward advancing that goal.
It is a really exciting feeling that I have right now knowing that someone that I will meet with in Panama can be the link that create jobs and new investment in Manatee County.  Its so awesome to be part of a delegation that is opening a new market for our community.