New Brand Revealed for Manatee County as a Destination

The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau unveiled its new brand this morning. Attendees at the event received BACVB Ambassador pins and were encouraged to find ways to develop continuity through cross promotion and marketing.

I was fortunate to be in the audience this morning as the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau unveiled its new brand for Manatee County as a tourism destination. Looking around the room, there were community leaders from every corner of the County and many places in between – Anna Maria Island, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto, Bradenton, Longboat Key and more. Elliott Falcione and his team did a great job explaining the comprehensive, data-driven research that went into this brand development and giving visual examples of how it will be delivered through new marketing, advertising, etc. The Manatee Chamber’s two office – in Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch – are official Tourist Information Centers in partnership with the BACVB and Manatee County. We see tens of thousands of people in our two lobbies every year and look forward to finding new ways to support Manatee County and its six cities as destinations for visitors. Tourism = New Dollars Coming into the Community = Jobs.

It’s Good to Be Buzzed…

We all know the mantra “location, location, location,” but in these challenging economic times – and with lots of people recognizing the need for a more diverse business base in Manatee County – I suggest one new mantra is “recruitment, recruitment, recruitment.”

You have the chance to hear about the Chamber’s Economic Development Council and its plans to carry-out that new mantra as it pertains to the recruitment of new businesses. I hope you will consider attending the EDC’s Business Buzz on Wednesday, April 14, 2010. For information, please visit

You may say… yeah, right, Jacki… Manatee County can’t compete against the NYCs, Charlottes and Chicagos, but I believe we can – particularly if we concentrate on targeted industry segments and building upon the critical synergies created by our existing business base.

Did you know that, according to the Tampa Bay Partnership and Enterprise Florida:

  • The Tampa Bay area is the 13th largest media market in the country, home to more than 3.9 million consumers and host to more than 20 million visitors annually?
  • Port Manatee, with more refrigerated dockside space than any other Gulf of Mexico port, is the closest of the three Tampa Bay deepwater ports to the Panama Canal.
  • Tampa Bay boasts more than 25 universities, colleges and higher education facilities.
  • Florida’s economy encourages the growth of high tech companies. Florida led the Southeast and ranked 4th nationwide in high tech employment in 2008.
  • Merchandise trade valued at $103 billion flowed through Florida’s airports and seaports in 2009, making the state one of the world’s leaders in international trade. Economic development partners around the state provide valuable exporting assistance services to Florida-based companies looking to expand their markets internationally.
  • Florida’s international businesses enjoy access to the second largest FTZ network in the country, encompassing 20 Foreign Trade Zones.

With successful recruitment efforts and continued nurturing of existing companies, Manatee County could easily become home to additional businesses from around the globe.

After all, one of the many important things we have is “location, location, location.”  See you at the Buzz!

Manatee Chamber Facebook Seminar Poses Question – Does Your Business Have a Fan Page?

Yesterday’s Facebook seminar at the Chamber caused me to ask as many questions as it answered… and that’s not a BAD thing.  Our presenter, Kevin McNulty, did a great job providing useful insight and direction into setting up and maintaining an effective FB page for a business or organization.  He encouraged participants to bring their laptops so that we could walk through his tips and tricks step-by-step in real time.  Again, it was very relevant for me, as one of the administrators of the Manatee Chamber’s and Manatee Young Professionals’ FB pages.  But, it sure made me wonder what will be next… because with the way the web evolves at lightning speed, something is surely “next.”  That “next” thing might be new tweaks to existing social media tools or it might be a hugely successful new site with business application or… or…

I try to stay up-to-speed on ways FB – and other social media sites – can benefit the Chamber with our business plan and help our members become even more successful.  I ran across a cool article from Mashable the other day and thought some of you may be interested:

Something else to ponder: According to its site, Facebook has more than 400 million active users, 50% of whom are active on the site on any given day.  And, these users become fans of 4 pages per month. More than 1.5 million businesses have a fan page.  There are already 5.3 billion fans out there… with 20 million people becoming a fan of a page each day.

Does your business have a fan page on Facebook?

Are you a fan of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce?

Positive Trends…

How nice was it today to receive an email newsletter from Chamber member Express Employment Professionals and read the lead story taken from Reuters on positive GDP growth?  Well, it was pretty darn nice, in my opinion!

This information brings to mind a discussion I had recently with fellow local young professionals.  Last month we surveyed Manatee Young Professionals (MYP) members asking about top issues.  One topic was the local economy.  A question we asked was “How do you feel about our local economy today as compared to a year ago?”

Now, you won’t be surprised to learn that I am an optimist on this topic (possibly due to me being a Chamber gal… after all, my job is to champion businesses, business growth and quality of life.)  I answered that I “FELT BETTER.”  And, I do feel better today than I did last year.  20% agreed with me.  I really thought that number was going to be higher.  FYI – 27% felt “the same” and 52% “felt worse.”

Digging further, it appears that these numbers reflect the fact that local young professionals have had personal exposure to the downturn.  We all know someone who has been negatively impacted via job loss, foreclosure, etc. – and few haven’t been affected in some way themselves.  My belief (it’s more than a hope) is that positive news is on the horizon and that businesses, particularly small businesses, will drive our progress in this pre-recovery period.

So, keep giving us the good news!  As a Chamber we will continue to help our members and our community in every way we can.  Your success stories not only elevate the dialogue, they also gives us best practices to share with others!

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Third Quarter Growth, Strongest in Two Years
The gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 3.2% in the third quarter of 2009 after falling at an annual rate of 0.7% in the second quarter, according to a survey of top economists in the Blue Chip Economic Indicators October Survey. Key factors in bettering GDP performance included an increase in personal consumption expenditures, residential investment, and a reduced rate of business inventory, the report showed. Economists forecast the GDP to grow by 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2009 and by 2.5% in 2010. – Oct. 10, 2009

Welcome and a Personal Note…

Welcome to the Manatee  Chamber’s blog!

For those of you new to blogs (which, while I am not a total newbie, “new to posting” is a category in which I fall), we’ll learn together how this tool will enhance the Chamber’s online presence and – most importantly – benefit local businesses.

My hope is that this blog accomplishes a long, ambitious list of things…  1) it will enable the Chamber to provide important and valuable information to our members, 2) it will add to the fast-paced conversation taking place online among our members and our community, 3) it will enhance our members’ ability to provide us with feedback/ideas on issues and programs, 4) it will add value and bring attention to the Chamber’s long list of initiatives and priorities, and 5) it will aid in world peace (ok, I said it was an ambitious list…)

The Manatee Chamber is committed to building a positive business environment and supporting a great quality of life in Manatee County. I look forward to working with all Chamber members on this mission… and  working with you to use this blog to enhance all that we do.