Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Heads to DC to Present Business Owners' Priorities for Workforce

Todays News

BY JOHN WITTE SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY NOV 25, 2019

Mireya Eavey of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Jennifer Behrens of the Atlantic Mold and Machining Corp trekked their way North this week, to present the collective concerns of local business owners, nonprofit founders, and other representatives of Sarasota's managerial class regarding what they see as long developing cracks in our community's workforce. Business Leaders United, a nonprofit representing a national coalition of privately-owned companies, claims that 62% of small and mid-sized businesses in the United States have trouble filling skilled positions in their companies. Through the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses have identified similar issues, regarding both entry level jobs and the development of the skill sets needed to move workers into mid and upper level employment. 

In May of this year, the Chamber of Commerce organized a public forum with the University of South Florida to discuss these concerns and develop uniform language regarding the issues. Attendees included members of the Florida Policy Institute, the Bradenton EDC, Suncoast Technical College, United Way, Unidos Now, the Baranick Foundation, the Sarasota County Libraries, and many others. The group identified issues like a lack of state and federal funding for technical education, apprenticeship programs, child care, affordable housing, or voluntary pre-k education as primary concerns in supporting the workforce. Specifically, the group voiced support for the full utilization of the Sadowski Trust Fund, the Continuation Florida Job Growth Grand Fund, and HB7071 which would expand vocational and technical education in the state of Florida.

With these concerns in hand, Eavey and Behrens met with Senators Scott and Rubio, and Congressman Buchanan. “We can only do so much without policy. At some point is feels like we're stuck in a loop,” Eavey told SRQ Daily. “They need to understand the situation here.”

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