What Does Chamber Move Mean For CareerEdge?



The CareerEdge Funders Collaborative has been housed by a couple institutions over the past 10 years, but founding executive director Mireya Eavey hopes the initiative has found a permanent home. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce last week announced it would it would partner with the effort. Eavey in May will join the Chamber staff as chief workforce strategist, a newly created position, and CareerEdge will move its operational functions there on June 18.

“It make perfect sense that the next progression of CareerEdge was to go to an organization that is employer focused,” says Eavey.

And Kevin Cooper, president of the Sarasota Chamber, says the organization for years has wanted to play a greater role in the workforce development space. He notes that one constant in local business needs, whether when the unemployment was at a recession peak of 11 percent or today when it has declined to 3.5 percent, has been connecting employers with the right set of workers. “Businesses are focused on the ability to get the talent they need,” Cooper says.

CareerEdge focuses on leveraging public and private dollars to provide opportunities for better jobs and higher worker wages in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Originally launched with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the group has worked with the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority and Central Community Redevelopment Agency, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Bank of America, the Bradenton 14th Street Community Redevelopment Agency and the Manatee Community Action Agency. It’s picked up funding through the years from such national players as Microsoft and J.P. Morgan Chase as well as local entities including Sarasota County and the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation. For the past two years, it has operated out of United Way Suncoast, where Eavey was Sarasota Area President. The move also means Eavey has resigned her position at United Way, effective as of May 4.

Eavey and Cooper say they have talked about collaborating for sometime. The Chamber has embarked on other efforts like Talent4Tomorrow focused on building a better trained employee pool in the region. “The model for CareerEdge is based on employer demand so the closer they can get to employers the better,” Cooper says.

CareerEdge as an initiative can move to a new organizational head, and Eavey says certain programs targeting employee needs in Manatee and even in St. Petersburg can continue even as the effort moves to a Sarasota institution. And the initiative will still engage with collaborative efforts with United Way and other partners. “This is a deeper dive,” says Eavey, who believes working directly with Chamber members about their own needs will lead to more keen and sharply focused development efforts.

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