The Buzz

By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2005


Gem of a Saleswoman

Vanessa Baugh catches the gold bug.

Vanessa Baugh, owner of Vanessa Fine Jewelry at Westfield Southgate in Sarasota, won the 2005 Young Business of the Year award from the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

"I worked in sales for a printing company in Virginia, and one day on my lunch hour I went into a mall and walked into a jewelry store. I started talking to the man working there and he asked me if I'd ever thought of selling jewelry. I said no, but he suggested I try it part-time. I thought there's no way I could do this, but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea of working in such a glamorous field as gems and diamonds and knowing I would be around so many people. I started out part-time, and within 30 days I was making more than my full-time job. Within six months I was managing a store for them. It turned my whole world around.

"I'm a people person; I love talking to people. The one thing I learned very quickly is you have to be honest and give them what they want and make them happy. It's a very happy business, and it's the most fulfilling thing I've ever done.

"When I moved to Sarasota in 2000 I was still working for Zale Corporation for the Gordon's division. I had a friend who had a jewelry kiosk in Sarasota Square, and I bought it from him. My goal never faltered; I always knew I wanted to have my own jewelry store. I knew how I wanted to treat other people and what kind of jewelry I wanted to sell. Now we're getting ready to open our second location in Main Street in Lakewood Ranch. I'm truly living my dream. It's a lot of hard work, but when you do something you love it's not work; it's fun."


"Keep eating. As I've learned in the Florida House, you get very accustomed to speaking while no one's listening."

Florida Rep. Bill Galvano at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Legislative Roundtable luncheon last summer.

"Even if I'm a nerd, I'm your policy nerd."

Florida Rep. Donna Clarke at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Legislative Roundtable luncheon last summer after discussing details of the recently passed water bill.

"The problem in Sarasota is that there are too many smart people and everybody goes to too many committee meetings instead of solving the problem."

Panelist Harvey Vengroff on affordable housing at the Downtown Partnership of Sarasota's monthly luncheon.


DBT Death by Tweakage. When a product or project fails due to unnecessary tinkering or too many last-minute revisions. "Why did the new product fail?" "It had the DBTs." Source:

efforting Another unnecessary case of "verbing." "We're efforting a follow-up on the president's report." Attempting or trying are more than adequate alternatives. Source:


START's John Connor talks about doing business during this year's prolonged Red Tide outbreak.

Stemming Red Tide

Interviewed by Chris Angermann

Red tide has affected the Sarasota-Manatee area on and off since February, the longest continual period since an 18-month outbreak in 1995-96, says John Connor, president of Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START). Connor, a former accountant with Deloitte Touche and a tax and business consultant, got involved with START as treasurer and for the past two years has been its president. Under his stewardship, the volunteer organization has expanded from one to six Southwest Florida chapters and has 700 members dedicated to tackling the fish-killing algal bloom.

What is the effect of red tide on local businesses? From all our surveys we've found that, when a red tide event takes place, business goes down roughly 10 to 20 percent. Economically, hotels and restaurants are the two primary industries affected, but all tourist businesses suffer. If we can reduce the figure to 5 percent, it would be a tremendous success.

How does START help businesses deal with the impact of red tide? We work in partnership to find out what tools they need to mitigate the economic impact. We provide free educational DVDs, fact cards and wallet-size cards that address people's concerns. For example, restaurants were telling us that during a red tide event no one would eat seafood. But all seafood in Florida that comes from grocery stores and restaurants is inspected, so it is absolutely safe to eat.

How can businesses make better use of START'S expertise? I'd like hotels, restaurants, beach concessions companies and tour companies to know that these tools are available. They can get free information cards to give out to their customers. If hotels want to put the DVD on their closed-channel televisions, we're happy to supply them. We also have a toll-free information hotline that is staffed 24 hours a day. And our Web site,, is specifically designed as a business tool. Some months we get as many as 200,000 hits, including inquiries from all over the world.

What other projects does START support? Our long-term goal is to bring technologies to bear to provide early warning systems. Mote Marine has developed unmanned vehicles that swim in the Gulf, come up every 90 minutes and communicate by satellite if there is red tide present. By the end of the year, they hope to have 12 such vehicles in place; we would like to see a hundred along the Southwest coast. We also provide seed money for projects that develop control mechanisms. Right now, we are working on four technologies that mitigate or kill red tide by using powdered clay, ozone or light rays, or by splitting the toxin cells biologically.

What would you like to see happening in START's future? There are 80 different types of red tide around the world. We are the only grassroots citizens' organization that operates in the harmful algal bloom area, the only organization of this type in the United States. A number of government officials have encouraged us to go national. I would like to see START expand first to northwest Florida and then to the whole state. Then we can figure out the right time to go national or even worldwide.


Live, Work and Prosper

A look at Sarasota-Manatee's labor and cost-of-living numbers.

Rank of Sarasota-Manatee for job growth in Florida: 1

Percentage increase in Sarasota-Manatee employment rate from 2004 to 2005: 5.3

Rank of Sarasota-Manatee in Florida for largest bank deposits: 5

Source: FDIC State Profile

Sarasota-Manatee labor force: 312,166

Employment: 302,330

Unemployment: 9,836

Unemployment rate: 3.2

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

PERSONAL INCOME, 2003 (most recent)

Total (all income received by all residents)

  • Florida: $211.6 billion
  • Sarasota: $14.4 billion
  • Manatee: $9.1 billion

Per Capita Income

  • Florida: $30,098
  • Sarasota: $41,627
  • Manatee: $31,669

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis



(U.S. Average = 100)


  • Composite Index: 105.7
  • Grocery Items: 99.9
  • Housing: 119.8
  • Utilities: 92.6
  • Health Care: 105.6


  • Composite Index: 97.4
  • Grocery Items: 96.5
  • Housing: 100.1
  • Utilities: 92.8
  • Health Care: 92.6

Source: The ACCRA Cost of Living Index



"Good Morning, Greater Sarasota!" networking breakfast, 7:30 a.m. at Anexio, Inc., 650 Central Ave., Sarasota. Free for members, $5 for non-members. Call 955-2508 ext. 525 or register online at


Innovation Creativity Business Summit A national conference on business innovation. Oct. 5: noon to 6 p.m.; Oct. 6: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Oct. 7: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and various locations. $399 for corporate employees, $299 for nonprofit employees. Full agenda and online registration at Call (866) ICB-3443 or e-mail [email protected]


Greater Sarasota Chamber partners meeting 8 to 9 a.m. at the chamber boardroom, 1945 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. Contact Pam Morgan at 955-2508 ext. 234 or [email protected]


Englewood Chamber Golf Classic and Ball Drop Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. at Rotonda Golf & Country Club. Call 270-2575 or 474-5511.


Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau "Info Blitz" open house, 8 to 9 a.m. at Sarasota Visitors Center, 655 N. Tamiami Trail. Call 955-0991 ext. 208.


Englewood Professional Development Series: "Successful Habits of Winners" First in a series of five. 8 a.m. registration at Bay Harbor Ford Community Meeting Room, 1908 S. McCall Road, second floor, Englewood. $165 for entire series, held throughout the year. Call 474-5511.

Englewood Chamber business card exchange 5 to 7 p.m. at Englewood Herald-Tribune, 1900 S. McCall Road, Englewood. Call 474-5511.


Greater Sarasota Chamber Business Connections 5 to 7 p.m. at Misty Creek Country Club, 8954 Misty Creek Circle. $5 for members, $20 for non-members. Call 955-2508 ext. 231. Reservations required.


Downtown After 5 live music on Lemon Avenue and Main Street, downtown Sarasota. 5:30 to 9 p.m.


Bayfest Block Party festival with arts and crafts, car show, food and live music on Pine Avenue, Anna Maria. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. E-mail [email protected]


Greater Sarasota Chamber new member briefing 4 p.m. at the chamber boardroom, 1945 Fruitville Road, Sarasota.


Englewood Chamber's Networking at Noon 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Farlow's, 2080 S. McCall Road, Englewood. Call 474-5511.


SunFiesta Venice parade, crafts, entertainment at Centennial Park, downtown Venice. Oct. 22: 5 to 9 p.m.; Oct. 23: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Oct. 24: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Downtown Partnership "Destination Downtown" forum on downtown architecture 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sarasota University Club, 1605 Main St., 12th floor. $20 for members, $35 for non-members. Call 951-2656.


Greater Sarasota Chamber's 85th annual membership meeting and luncheon 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. $45 for members, $60 for non-members. Call 955-2508 ext. 517. Reservations required.


82 Degrees Tech's Technology Innovation Awards 8 a.m. at Michael's On East, 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota. $30 per person or $200 per table of eight. For reservations and sponsorships, call 228-9083 or e-mail [email protected]

Filed under
Show Comments