All Politics Is Local

Guest Correspondence

Tip O’Neil once said, “All politics is local.” As the country is still reeling from one of the most contentious national elections in our nation’s history, this is an important point to remember. While what happens on the federal level is important and many policy trends do eventually trickle down to the local level, the ins and outs of our daily lives are mostly dominated by leaders elected locally. Issues like education, transportation, infrastructure and growth affect us in almost every aspect of our lives as we live and work, raise families and support the local economy. Here in Sarasota, I believe the stars have aligned for great prosperity over the next few years—driven mainly by proactive, forward-thinking leaders at the helm of some of our most vital organizations influencing the local business climate.

At the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, our membership is laser-focused on enhancing the local business climate to improve economic development and the construction industry—an industry that is the backbone of our local economy. Beaches and culture are wonderful tourism drivers but renovations, build outs and new construction, paired with repairing and building new roads and adding to our top-rated schools, are the keys to creating a long-term and sustainable economy. Our membership, which has shown healthy growth over the past five years, is dedicated to sustaining a strong economy for construction tradesmen and women that can survive through volatile national economical cycles. It is a strong local economy that will create a rising tide for all of us who live and work here, and help attract and retain a quality work force.

Additionally, Sarasota right now has a strong group of business associations with solid and involved members looking to tackle issues critical to our local economy like affordable housing, transportation and education. These issues, if tackled together, can build strong communities long into the future. We are lucky to have leaders like Kevin Cooper, a long-time community advocate with institutional knowledge of our history, at the helm of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and former Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson taking the lead at The Argus Foundation. As we enter an unprecedented growth period in Sarasota, members of those organizations will offer critical perspectives and insight into analyzing issues like the comprehensive plan, the 2050 plan, a unified development code and land development regulations.

Furthermore, the Coalition of Business Associations, the umbrella organization for many of our local business groups, will serve an important role in unifying our plans for the future.

Lets work together to create a strong future for Sarasota so that we win awards for more than our fabulous beaches and tourism attractions. Let’s make Sarasota a place that businesses want to come to grow and hire workers with good paying and quality jobs. So the next time you are tempted to lament over the national political climate, remember that here at the local level, we are poised for great things.

Mary Dougherty-Slapp is executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange.

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