Sarasota Tomorrow

By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2008

Just when it’s become easy to get discouraged over our protracted local recession and ongoing leadership void, we’ve been given reason to smile. The basis for optimism is Sarasota Tomorrow, a bold and comprehensive five-year initiative of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

GSCC’s executive summary defines Sarasota Tomorrow as “a collaborative partnership to revitalize Greater Sarasota’s economy, protect the environment and enhance the quality of life for all residents.” This will be achieved via a four-pronged effort: (1) creating higher-paying careers for residents, (2) supporting existing and new businesses, (3) promoting green businesses and (4) creating new partnerships.

From the outset, and after extensive research involving interviews and focus groups, Sarasota Tomorrow’s leadership wisely determined that the program must be collaborative. Bridges would have to be built among the business community and neighborhood groups and local government and civic and environmental groups and educational organizations. That this becomes a total community endeavor is not only part of its fundamental brilliance; it’s what makes Sarasota Tomorrow doable.

Yet, on the surface, because of current conditions, past enmities and the large scope of this initiative, it’s a daunting task. But after understanding the strategy, the details of the execution plan and its widespread initial support, you realize the goals are achievable. Under the able, proactive leadership of Steve Queior, GSCC president, Pam Truitt, chair, and John Cranor, chair-elect, this massive effort has been planned intelligently and realistically.

With an increasing number of investors (including Sarasota Magazine and Biz941), advisory support by committed and talented business leaders as well as expert consultants with a national client base, this campaign to shape our future is off to a promising start. The original cost to execute the carefully sequenced plan was budgeted at $2 million. That sum has been exceeded by investments of $2.6 million from local businesses. So the capital is in place to begin to make things happen.

The next steps are to create widespread awareness through a comprehensive communications plan involving public relations and advertising. And then it’s on to deftly building those bridges with both determination and compromise.

Having been in the private sector my entire career, I only know one way of doing things, which simplistically is to set goals, develop consensus, establish priorities, stay focused and then get it done. With that same approach to securing results, Sarasota Tomorrow is the best shot we have of getting it done. It needs—and deserves—all our support.

Filed under
Show Comments