Chamber’s D.C. Fly-In

Everywhere in Washington, D.C. I was reminded of the phrase E Pluribus Unum. It was on the great Seal of the United States and was long time considered the de facto motto from 1782 until 1956, according to Wikipedia.

When the Manatee Chamber’s delegation went to Washington to visit our national leaders recently, this phrase became embedded in my thinking – as we started our first day with a tour of the Capitol. It is on the buildings, coins, seals and sculptures. Throughout the two days, E Pluribus Unum stuck with me like a tune I couldn’t get off my mind.

Out of the many – emerges one.  Originally, it meant our original 13 colonies and the emergence of our nation. In more modern times, it has taken on an universal appeal of unity, commonality, assimilation .. even racial, cultural and religious meanings. Moreover, it reminded me of our great state, our organization, our mission, our trip – in a general sense.

We are a diversity of our many members .That, as a Chamber, is arguably our biggest strength; the melting pot of mostly small businesses as well as active large corporations, a diverse group of native Manatee Countians as well as an in migration of members/residents and leaders, gatekeepers and followers. Those that are humble and those that are arrogant. .. the list goes on and on.

That (diversity) can also be our biggest weakness as a country, county, state and a chamber of commerce. For example, if we did not have a specific mission and objective(s) when we went to D.C. or to Tallahassee (where we go annually), we most likely would be unsuccessful.  Every one of the six members who travelled to D.C. had a specific topic/responsibility. If any one of them had diverted and talked about an issue that was not on our Business Agenda, it would have weakened our purpose. I thank them for their unity of purpose and leadership and vision. When we were in D.C., we spoke out for the residents and the tourists, the islanders and the mainlanders, those with health care and those without.  Out of the many, emerges one.

If you want to learn more about the D.C. trip and our meetings while there, read the October article and view the pictures in the Current magazine.  Also, in the months ahead you can follow our 2013 Business Agenda for Tallahassee, Fl. and in Washington, D.C.

This is a most important election year. You are encouraged to be inspired and to learn more about the many issues and elections facing our community.  Become involved in crafting and carrying out your Chamber’s voice. We are definitely a mix of different cultures and individuals and want to retain our distinct identity. Help us E Pluribus Unum in Manatee County!ImageImage

Manatee Chamber Proud to be a Sponsor and a Place-Maker: Sustainable & Authentic Florida Conference – October 17- 19

While having lunch at the Sandbar restaurant on a beautiful summer day on Anna Maria island, owner Ed Chiles and I discussed the upcoming October 17-19 Sustainable and Authentic Florida Conference.  Immediately, I was attracted to the idea and offered for the Manatee Chamber’s hand in support, being a sponsor (with the Chamber board approval later forthcoming) and in promoting the event.  Ed was honored this first time Conference was coming to Coastal Manatee County because Anna Maria was such a place of character and been able to thrive in times of economic downturn.  I was encouraged by (our Chamber) the fact that we had something in common with Anna Maria and although we have seen harder times and a drop in membership, we recently received the distinction by the Tampa Bay Business Journal as the largest Chamber (in terms of membership) in Tampa Bay.

 The Manatee Chamber’s involvement over the years in so many quality issues in our community also made us a good match for such a Conference.  Where do we begin to tell the story of the Manatee Chamber and it’s origins?  All the way back to 1889 and the then Bradenton Board of Trade. Some of the “place-making” history is as follows;  

  — to name a few signature events – the Board of Trade (nearly 10 years later) helped in the securing of the first railroad to our community,

  — then in 1926 advocated ambitiously for the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to be constructed,

  — not confined to development for development’s sake but more for development of “community” –

 —  e.g. in the early 1990’s the Chamber recommended to Manatee County to establish “livable roadways” whereby up to 5% of construction is earmarked for livability factors such as landscaping, bike paths/sidewalks and aesthetics,

  — in 2010, the Manatee Chamber created a Green Initiative in which corporate energy efficiencies were recognized to reduce dependency on foreign oil and job creation/retention.

Realizing right of way costs were increasing and the ability to pay for roadways are very limited – for example, there has not been an increase in the federal gas tax since the Ronald Reagan era, the Chamber has investigated other measures such as safety and intersection improvements such as light synchronization or intelligent transportation systems (ITS). In 2003, we were able to garner $27 million (out of a total $50 million) to go toward hundreds of intersections in Manatee County.  This will ultimately improve roadway efficiencies by between 18-24%.  A sound investment .. and your Chamber was in the leadership on the funding of this initiative – advocating in Tallahassee.  Chris Mead, Senior Vice President with the American Chamber of Commerce Executives and authoring The Magicians of Main Street: The Story of America’s Chambers of Commerce, stated, “ Transportation remained a focus of chambers of commerce in the early 20th century, as it had been in their earliest days.” Such is certainly true in Manatee County and our Chamber throughout it’s existence. The Transportation Committee retains a very strong identity in our organization.  Whether it is getting from point “a”  to point “b” or merely handing over a map at the front desk, what could be more important in place-making genre?

 According to Bob Bartz, President of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce for 30 years;  “Place-making is a centerpiece of our organization”.  Most recently, he continued, the Manatee Chamber has worked successfully in support of a medical residency program to recruit more physicians to our underserved area and in helping to provide an equitable funding formula for our technical institute ($4 million over two years at MTI). These two initiatives over the last two years will improve our community  greatly in job training/placement and physician recruitment.  These accomplishments are all about place-making.

 In 2014, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce will celebrate their 125th anniversary. The tradition of  .. “business people cooperating for the good of the community”  is a legacy to be proud about. Likewise, go to and sign up for a conference to also be remembered through the ages.


St. Pete Beach Abandons Local Experiment in Amendment 4

(Orlando, FL – November 5, 2009) Since beginning a 3-year experiment in Amendment 4-style rule, St. Pete Beach residents have seen endless lawsuits, higher taxes and widespread economic turmoil.[i] On Tuesday, the citizens of St. Pete Beach scaled back their local version of Amendment 4 so that only certain land use changes require a referendum. While Florida voters are set to soon decide the fate of Amendment 4 – a statewide Vote on Everything initiative – St. Pete Beach voters have chosen to rein in their own local experiment by a decisive 60-40 margin.

“St. Pete Beach residents are tired of voting on everything, especially issues that don’t even relate to development,” said Ward Friszolowski, former Mayor of St. Pete Beach. “This amendment doesn’t work. It has resulted in chaotic, confusing and expensive elections driven by sound bites rather than sound planning.”


  • November, 2006: St. Pete Beach narrowly adopts a local version of Amendment 4, requiring a referendum for all changes to the local comprehensive plan. Amendment 4 supporters promise that they just want to give “the people a right to vote.”
  • June, 2008: St. Pete Beach voters approve a new comprehensive plan at the ballot box.
  • June, 2008: After losing the election, Amendment 4 supporters in St. Pete Beach file a string of legal challenges to invalidate the will of the people.
  • September, 2008: Numerous administrative challenges are subsequently filed by Amendment 4 co-author and co-founder Ross Burnaman.
  • June, 2009: The St. Petersburg Times reports that St. Pete Beach has exhausted its legal budget months before the end of the fiscal year.[ii]
  • September, 2009: Amidst rising legal bills, St. Pete Beach raises taxes.[iii]
  • October, 2009: Court-ordered mediation collapses when Amendment 4 supporters refuse to join the City and the business community in supporting a compromise.[iv]

St. Pete Beach is proof positive that Amendment 4 is not designed to give the people a say on growth. It is designed to give anti-growth lawyers another legal avenue to stop commonsense progress, even when voters approve it. In St. Pete Beach, the taxpayers’ legal bills continue to mount. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight.

Floridians for Smarter Growth leads opposition to Amendment 4. To date, more than 170 organizations throughout Florida have opposed Amendment 4. More join the fight every day.

[i] St. Petersburg Times on September 22, 2009 (“St. Pete Beach tax rates goes up, but will it be felt?”): /1038346
[ii] St. Petersburg Times on June 1, 2009 (“St. Pete Beach’s legal costs bust budget”)
[iii] St. Petersburg Times on September 22, 2009 (“St. Pete Beach tax rates goes up, but will it be felt?”):
[iv] St. Petersburg Times on November 4, 2009 (“Mediator declares impasse in talks to end St Pete Beach development lawsuits”):


For more information go to:


Paid political advertisement – paid for and sponsored by Floridians for Smarter Growth, Inc., PO Box 532018 Orlando FL 32853.