As the first year of publishing Sarasota/Manatee BUSINESS closes, there's only one conclusion to reach: It's been a tremendous year for our communities and the magazine.
Appreciating property values in 2004 made this region one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, tourism tax revenues hit record highs and Inc. magazine named us one of the nation's best places for doing business. Our communities are changing so rapidly it's hard to remember when orange barricades and men in hard hats weren't part of the streetscape.
Our cover story (p. 22) reviews 2004's major milestones, describing the biggest stories and most influential people that surfaced over the last 12 months, from the hurricanes to the buzz words we heard and read incessantly in 2004.
In this issue, you'll also read about two award-winning CEOs: Al Hoffman Jr., (p. 28) the powerful head of WCI Communities, named one of the best builders in the country and the nation's most influential Republican moneymaker; and Ed Rosenthal (p. 38), the founder of Sarasota-based Florikan E.S.A., a nontoxic fertilizer manufacturer. Pat Haire's thorough examination of "What People Earn" (p. 32) and the startling disparity between local incomes and cost of living, is a reality check for everyone in business. If we haven't worried enough before about the ability to attract and retain quality workers, this story points to looming troubles in our economy, which is so dependent on service workers.
As for this young magazine's milestones, we're extremely proud to report that we won two writing awards from the Florida Magazine Association-a first place "Charley" for Ilene Denton's Not-for-Profit column and a bronze award for my profile on builder Lee Wetherington. In addition, we welcome new publisher Jeff Lawenda, who brings great depth and breadth of publishing experience, and account representative Marilyn Charlotte, whose former involvement with the Manatee Chamber of Commerce means Manatee County businesses will stay right in the center of our radar screen.
And finally, the growth and change in our communities is also reflected in the new ownership of this magazine. CurtCo Media purchased Gulfshore Media, the publisher of Sarasota/Manatee BUSINESS, Oct. 1. Based in Malibu, Calif., CurtCo publishes a collection of national magazines aimed at the luxury reader, including the Robb Report and Worth, and, while supporting our strong local focus promises to bring us editorial resources that will benefit our readers and our advertisers next year and beyond.