Sarasota Officials Compare Job Losses With Charleston, S.C.
SARASOTA FL - "They lost 19,000 jobs. We lost 38,000."
It's the comparison local leaders were able to make on a visit to Charleston, S.C. by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce/Economic Development Council "Intercity Best Practices" tour.
Chamber President Steve Queior explains that the 29 Sarasota leaders saw Charleston's efforts to recover from the closing of a Navy Yard and the resultant loss of some 19,000 jobs. "They had horrific challenges," Mr. Queior said. "Their task is to refill that huge, empty Navy facility and replace jobs also lost in companies that supported the Navy. We saw that they are doing a masterful job, and we were able to make a couple of suggestions. And from their example, we learned more about coping with the 38,000 jobs we lost in the construction and real estate 'bust.'"
Participants in the tour included Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell, Deputy City Manager Marion Brown, Sarasota County Commissioners Joe Barbetta and Jon Thaxton; Joan McGill, vice president of the Economic Development Corporation; Joel Freedman of Freedman Consulting and Development LLC, Lisl Liang of SRQ Media Group, Regional USF Chancellor Dr. Arthur Guilford; Virginia Haley, president of the Visit Sarasota County; and Jennifer Compton of Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP. Several board members from the Chamber also joined the group.
Mr. Queior described the annual visits as "a learning experience for both us and the community we visit. We're trading ideas on how best to serve our communities, and how best to tackle our problems." In recent years, tours have gone to several other southeastern cities.
"We took away from the visits, I think, an appreciation for the power of regionalism, and how important it is to have totally coordinated plans and actions around education, training, and economic development," Mr. Queior added.