Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

In Praise of the People Who Spread the News of Paradise

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

In Praise of the People Who Spread the News of Paradise

Article excerpt

KUDOS TO THE ECONOMIC Development Corp. of Sarasota County for seeking to capitalize even more on what we know draws flocks of business people to our region every year.

"Paradise."

As a young business reporter covering manufacturing and just about every other facet of commerce in my home county of Manatee during the mid-1990s, it quickly became apparent that there was a certain pattern to entrepreneurial migration to our region.

I can't tell you how many chief executives told me this kind of story:

"Well, you know, we'd always vacationed on (Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key or Siesta Key etc.) and we just loved it. The people were great, the food was great, the beaches were great. We just loved every aspect of it.

"Then we'd have to go back to (Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, upstate New York etc.) and we'd be sitting there with the snow flurries coming down, cold as bejeezus, and we'd say, 'Why are we doing this?'"

The next step was often to open a satellite office here, a great excuse to spend more and more time in Florida.

Then the conversation went something like this: "So, we're down in the sales office here at 4900 Lovely Florida Lane, and we start saying, 'Why aren't we doing this all the time?'"

Boom. The final move.

(Another variation: the CEO or company owner already has a second home in Southwest Florida and spent part of the year down here, managing from afar. Cue the epiphany and load the moving trucks).

Pretty soon, you've got a collection of those companies, some gravitating together because of a shared philosophy, or product line, or something similarly synergistic.

So who are your best ambassadors for that next lucky victim of the Florida bug?

The ones who already saw the light.

The EDC is going to take advantage of that phenomenon with a series of promotional videos "aimed at convincing CEOs and business owners that Sarasota's award-winning beaches and abundance of culture and fine dining are solid accompaniments to a pro-business climate," reporter Michael Pollick wrote about the economic development group's annual meeting last week.

"For entrepreneurs and business owners who can choose where they want to have their business, we are the kind of place where they will choose to be," said Mark Huey, the EDC's chief executive. …

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