Laws of Attraction

By Hannah Wallace January 31, 2009

On mornings when I’m feeling ambitious, I join Sarasota attorney Dan Bailey and Sarasota Bradenton Airport’s chief financial officer Marty Lange on their brisk, four-mile sunrise walk. Traffic is almost nonexistent at 6:15 a.m., when we start out from the downtown YMCA and speed along

Main Street
 to Marina Jack. As we hit the John Ringling Bridge, the sky and water are showing the first hint of pale pink and blue, and we never fail to remark on the beauty of nature and the city skyline.

“This is why we live here,” Dan likes to say. And he’s right, of course. Ever since I moved here in the late ’70s, I still pinch myself every time I cross that bridge, silently exclaiming, “I live here!”

Our incredible natural environment and quality of life have always been the economic engines of this region. And that’s not just because they pull in affluent retirees who want to relax in the sun. In this issue, national relocation expert John Rhodes says most of the companies and entrepreneurs who move here come because they believe they’ll be working in paradise. Most often they’re introduced to the area when they visit family members or come for a beach vacation. These are not the CEOs of huge companies that bring in hundreds of employees; more likely, they are entrepreneurs or owners of closely held companies, and, in addition to falling in love with our warm, sunny cities by the Gulf they’ve found Florida’s lower taxes (and they still are lower than in most other states), affordable labor and utility costs, and our airport also make the move worthwhile.

Rhodes says we could be attracting many more entrepreneurs and business owners while they are visiting. He suggests the convention and visitor bureaus in both Sarasota and Manatee should target them with testimonials from other entrepreneurs who fell in love with the environment and then found that they could make a good living here. These messages should be on their Web sites and in all their promotional publications. It’s a simple strategy that could pay dividends. We also talked to three companies about why they recently relocated here; you can read their answers on page 21.

And since this is the month that celebrates falling in love, we looked into the topic of office romance. It’s not surprising that love often blooms in the workplace, since that’s where people spend so much of their time. But is that a good thing? Reporter Nancy Wollin talked to human resource experts and some real live workers who were willing to go public with their stories. To see whether they all lived (and worked) happily ever after, turn to page 26.

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