State of Jobs Conference Inspires Futures

Guest Correspondence


In one month, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce will embark on its third State of Jobs Conference. An event that host over 400 high school students to help empower them to take control of their futures in regards to college and careers. When I begun my involvement in the Sarasota community, a common phrase often discussed was the “brain drain,” a term to describe smart students leaving our region in pursuit of better jobs in other states. From this notion that are most talented young people are leaving, I created the State of Jobs Conference. 

When the State of Jobs Conference was first created, I admit, I threw everything at the wall, which included a full three-day event with over 80 speakers and 30 community organizations coming together to make it happen. But through this experience we realized the importance of the “student day.” The legacy of State of Jobs begins with students discovering their passions and preparing for their futures. 

In 2015, we started surveying students to better understand their expectations and resources being provided to prepare them for their future. Through this experience, we discovered gaps between the education and business communities. Something we believe can be levitated through the State of Jobs Conference. This year, students can select from seven tracks including arts and culture, hospitality/tourism, business/entrepreneurship, healthcare, marketing, information technology and engineering/manufacturing. In addition to their track sessions, we have a keynote presentation, college readiness panel and professional prep session.  

Each year, the State of Jobs Conference rewards a scholarship recipient to a high school senior in partnership with the Community Foundation. Applications for this scholarship is currently underway. 

The Sarasota community has truly grabbed a hold of this event and has helped develop it into the event it is today. If you’re interested in learning more about the State of Jobs Conference, visit

Chris Laney is founder of the State of Jobs Conference.

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