SARASOTA, Fla. – Speakers at the recent Meet the Minds luncheon, jointly hosted by The Science and Environment Council and The Argus Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to joining business leaders from diverse industries and leveraging their talents and experience to benefit the community, linked the importance of the environment to the local business economy.
About 150 people attended the luncheon event on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Speakers included Dr. Michael P. Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium; Ed Chiles, CEO of The Chiles Restaurant Group; and John McCarthy, executive director of Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence (SCOPE).
“We are pleased to offer these important insights from leaders in their respective fields to business people in our region,” said Joe Hembree, president of The Argus Foundation. “Living in a community that thrives from our cultural and environmental assets, discussions of this nature, which link our collective prosperity together, are crucial for future collaboration and our region’s continued success.”
According to 2014 statistics from Visit Sarasota County and SCOPE, the estimated economic impact of tourism in Sarasota County is $1.5 billion. Many of those tourist dollars can be directly attributed to a healthy environment, a sentiment repeated by several panelists.
“Our community’s rich heritage of environmental protection has made the Sarasota Bay area nationally recognized as a place of natural beauty,” says Dr. David Shafer, executive director of The Science and Environment Council. “Today, our natural environment is the foundation of our economy and quality of life.”
“Healthy oceans are the key to a healthy ecosystem and a healthy economy,” says Dr. Crosby. “Sarasota Bay alone has an estimated economic value of about $12 billion, with a regional value of around $60 billion.”
Chiles is an advocate of sustainable harvest and aquaculture of local marine resources, such as Gray Striped Mullet and Sunray Venus Clams, to benefit the local economy. “Ninety percent of the seafood we eat in the United States is imported,” says Chiles. “We want healthy, organic and non-polluted, non-chemical seafood. We have to change the model from a commodity-based to a value-based standard, protecting our heritage, our environment and our economy.”
Additionally, enhancing our fisheries is another key to a strong economy, noted Dr. Crosby. “A healthy blue economy is vital to the well being of our community. Healthy coral reefs, seagrass and mangroves produce fish and serve as an economic engine that fuel 72,000 jobs in our state. Florida is ranked No. 1 in the nation for recreational fishing, which generates about $7 billion to our economy.”
About The Argus Foundation
Established in Sarasota in 1983, The Argus Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to joining business leaders from diverse industries and leveraging their talents and experience to benefit the community. The organization, which seeks to facilitate communications between the public and private sectors, has more than 170 members from 50 different industries. For more information, visit ArgusFoundation.org.
About the Science and Environment Council
Established in 2001, the Science and Environment Council is a 501(c)3 nonprofit coalition of 28 leading science-based environmental organizations across Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The Council works to increase environmental understanding, conservation and restoration through collaboration and public engagement. For more information, visit ScienceandEnvironment.org.