Cultivating Opportunities

Guest Correspondence

BY CHRISTINE ROBINSON SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY MAY 21, 2016

“A skilled and productive workforce is critical to Florida’s growing economy, serving as a primary reason businesses expand in or locate to our great state.” 

That is a statement from Chris Hart, president and CEO of CareerSource Florida, the state’s public-private workforce policy and investment board. CareerSource Florida partners include the Department of Economic Opportunity, 24 local workforce development boards and 100 career centers throughout Florida. Together, they help connect businesses with the talented workforce and training needed to succeed and grow. In his role, Hart’s effort to strengthen the global competitiveness of Florida businesses is also helping Floridians enhance skills necessary for a thriving workforce.

In a special Argus Foundation and South County Tiger Bay event, Hart will speak at the Meet the Minds luncheon on June 7 in South County. The partnership with South County Tiger Bay is intentional. We have some of our largest private employers in the county located in Venice and North Port with companies like PGT Industries, Tervis Tumbler and King Plastics. We also have innovative companies like bio-life company Enzymedica and, of course, our traditional sectors of tourism in Englewood and Venice, and construction in all areas of South County. South County is truly an economic jewel.

We hope this South County Tiger Bay joint meeting will highlight our biggest regional workforce asset—those living, working or soon to be moving to South County and especially North Port. The median age in the southern Sarasota County city is 41.2, and since 2000, it’s had a population growth of more than 140 percent. This area is a workforce asset, which if cultivated correctly, can be a shining light in the state for workforce training and development.

In a state that is driven now more than ever to create new and improved economic opportunities, our region is perfectly poised to set a statewide example of job growth and workforce training like never before. We must seize the opportunity to help job seekers, workers and businesses succeed. We are beginning to see this in educational and economic investments.

With the Suncoast Technical College unveiling its newest campus in North Port next summer and the University of Florida opening its innovation center in South County, our opportunities are vast in south Sarasota County. These two huge steps forward could have an immeasurable statewide impact on the job market. But we need to do so much more.

Locally, we have an opportunity to cultivate new and innovative employment and training strategies that can propel our region forward for the future.

I hope you’ll join us for this important community conversation.

Christine Robinson the executive director of The Argus Foundation.

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