Bradenton EDC Stresses 'Quality of Place'



A business incubator, a farmers market and an entertainment district could boost the attractiveness of the Bradenton area to employers, according to new research by Boyette Strategic Advisors. Now the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation have a multi-year plan to bring these objectives to fruition. “This is an exciting, visionary approach to realizing Manatee County’s economic development potential,” said EDC president and CEO Sharon Hillstrom.

The plan unveiled Friday sets specific goals for the EDC to: facilitate 62 business relocations or expansions; 11 formations of startup of companies, the creation or retention of 4,000 jobs; and ensure $460 million in capital investment through 2020. Target industry sectors include advanced manufacturing, corporate operations, distribution and logistics, information technology, life sciences, and sports performance. 

EDC officials have stressed that created a compelling “quality of place” will make the job of attracting companies and encouraging expansions easier. The plan calls for the establishment of a “Village of Innovation” to provide business assistance to entrepreneurs, including shared office space in an incubator to encourage collaboration. The plan also calls for amenities like an entertainment district on the riverfront in Palmetto near the Bradenton Area Convention Center and the establishment of a “world-class” dog park. 

Hillstrom estimates implementation of the plan will require an additional $400,000 beyond the organization's current budget and the EDC is working in partnership with other agencies, organizations and individuals. The presence of organizations like IMG Academy and Realize Bradenton will play a role in bringing the plan to life, officials said. “This is a town of doers,” Hillstrom said. “When our community is presented with a challenge or an opportunity, people come together. They roll up their sleeves, figure out a plan, execute it, and get it done.”

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