Economic Leaders Say Interest in Region Hasn't Waned

Todays News

SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY MAY 18, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered economic consequences to the area, but it doesn’t mean business has stopped. In fact, economic development professionals say many companies want more than ever to move operations to the Sarasota-Bradenton area.

“We have 19 projects right now that we're working, and we're getting called weekly from interested parties looking to this area to locate,” said Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation. “I'm shocked.” But it’s a sign years of selling the area as a business destination have paid off.

Dave Bullock, interim president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, was similarly surprised to see companies looking to relocate haven’t necessarily put plans on pause.

“Whether people during this time have a opportunity to think about where and how they want to run their business when things start up and they're thinking of a move, I'm not sure what's motivating it, but we're getting those interesting calls as well.”

The two were part of an online symposium on economic issues held by SRQ MEDIA. In the event, business leaders said restaurants, retailers and other sectors need help, but economic strengths for the region have not all disappeared. In many ways, the pandemic has offered companies a chance to strengthen those.

“A lot of businesses are seeing what they can run with. Was there some fat on their business that they're going to find out they can run pretty effectively with fewer people?,” said Heather Kasten, president of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

“Florida's economy was the 17th largest economy in the world prior to the pandemic,” said Jacki Dezelski, The fundamentals of our economy were humming along on a continued upward trajectory up until this crisis. I'm assuming that those fundamentals aren't completely broken.”

Governments have offered financial assistance, such as loan and grant programs developed by county governments hand in hand with the chambers and EDCs. Those serve as stop gaps, but market awareness for the region could be what helps long-term, leaders said.

Read more excerpts from the symposium in the June issue of SRQ Magazine.

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