The multi-year “Build Bradenton Area Plan” aims to expand economic opportunities for local residents and existing businesses.
BRADENTON – The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (EDC) today unveiled the multi-year “Build Bradenton Area Plan” to expand economic opportunities for local residents and existing businesses. More than 200 people filled the Manatee Performing Arts Center to hear a public briefing outlining the plan, which includes bold strategies for Manatee County’s future as the business address for the South Tampa Bay region.
“The Bradenton Area EDC, working with our network of partner agencies and community leaders, is seeking to guide our community to the next level as a location for companies to relocate or expand,” said Sharon Hillstrom, the EDC’s president and chief executive officer. “This is an exciting, visionary approach to realizing Manatee County’s economic development potential.”
The plan was developed over the past nine months by Boyette Strategic Advisors, a consultancy with extensive experience in economic development research and planning. The consultants combed through demographic and employment data, exhaustively toured the region, and received input from more than 200 local stakeholders. Participants included business and civic leaders, young professionals, government officials, educators and more.
The experts analyzed how Manatee County stacks up as a location for companies in high-growth business sectors. The resulting recommendations identify which industry sectors the EDC should target to recruit corporate relocations. It also highlights opportunities to make the community more attractive for companies seeking to expand or relocate their operations.
Hillstrom said the privately-funded strategy is a combination of bold, aspirational goals and practical, effective objectives. Examples include:
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Develop a Village of Innovation in downtown Bradenton to provide business assistance to entrepreneurs, including shared office space in an incubator facility to encourage collaboration.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Become a significant player in developing a life sciences hub for Florida’s West Coast.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Develop a culinary market or district located near the Village of the Arts.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Explore developing an entertainment district near the riverfront in Palmetto to complement the region’s meeting and convention business.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Develop a distribution and logistics business park at Port Manatee to provide a focus for marketing available land adjacent to the port.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Create the best sports performance sector in the country, including developing a cluster of related businesses in and around the IMG Academy campus in West Bradenton.
“Our ultimate goal is to expand economic opportunities for local residents and existing businesses, and create a more diverse and prosperous economy that supports a desirable quality of life,” Hillstrom said. “We believe that implementing this strategy with our partners in the community and region will move us in the right direction.”
The strategy the EDC used as a guide for the past few years served the community well, Hillstrom said.
Since 2009, the EDC worked with more than 60 businesses on relocations and expansions that are projected to add 3,500 jobs through 2021. Those jobs represent $1.8 billion in wages. The businesses are projected to make capital investments of $447 million over the same period.
The “Build Bradenton Area Plan” sets even more aggressive targets: 62 relocations and expansions; 11 formations of startup companies; 4,000 jobs created or retained; and $460 million in capital investment through 2020.
The new plan will be implemented in partnership with a host of agencies, organizations and individuals. Hillstrom estimates that the EDC’s role in implementation will require an additional $400,000 beyond the organization’s current budget. Pursuing that funding will be a high priority for the private, not-for-profit, she said.
“Creating a plan and implementing it are two very different things,” Hillstrom said. “But this is a town of doers. When our community is presented with a challenge or an opportunity, people come together. They roll up their sleeves, figure out a plan, execute it, and get it done.”
“This time will be no exception,” she said.
A summary of the “Build Bradenton Area Plan” is available online at www.ThinkBradentonArea.com.
About the Bradenton Area EDC
The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is the lead economic development organization for the Bradenton area’s nine communities located on the south side of Tampa Bay. The EDC works to diversify the local economy by attracting and retaining high-wage jobs for area residents, and connecting existing businesses to the resources they need to succeed. Information: www.ThinkBradentonArea.com