From the CEO

Efforts to build local workforce pipeline are paying off in Manatee County | Indicators

By Sharon Hillstrom -

Special to the Herald-Tribune

August 28, 2023

At the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, marketing our community as a business location is one of our core functions. Corporate decision makers tell us that the quality of education and relevant workforce training are key to their business location and expansion decisions.

That’s why we are focused on how the talent pipeline – our future workforce – is being educated, trained and developed locally. The news is encouraging. From pre-K to college, students are being prepared for the modern workforce and the well-paying careers available in Manatee County and our region.

Let’s start with early learning. Studies show that the most crucial years of learning take place before a child is old enough to enter school. And if a child is not a proficient reader by the end of third grade, that child is much less likely to succeed in school and in the workforce.

In Manatee County, a program called Soar in 4 gives parents the skills and materials to help them become their young child’s first and best literacy teacher. Soar in 4 is funded by private donations and community sources. It is not tax supported or funded by the School District of Manatee County. You can learn more about the program and its impact on children and families at soarin4.org/impact.

Once a child is school age, starting as early as kindergarten, Manatee County schools offer unparalleled opportunities for students to learn technologies and skills that will prepare them for today’s – and tomorrow’s – workforce.

Robotics is a prime example. Manatee County is one of the only school districts in the state to offer hands-on robotics education in K-12 and beyond. Manatee County schools continue to expand successful programs and increase students’ levels of expertise. In fact, this year 46 students and their advisers competed in the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas.

In addition to the impressive offerings in elementary, middle and high schools, Manatee Technical College continues the pathway with numerous certification programs that help students quickly gain proficiency and land well-paying jobs.

One example is Global Logistics and Supply Chain Technology, which is provided in partnership with major retail chains that recognize the value in developing our workforce. The program incorporates technologies, including robotics, that are increasingly used in the industry.

State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota also is part of the pathway, partnering with a local business to bring a specialized robotic machine to SCF’s Coding Academy so students gain hands-on, real world experience with the technology.

Another example of developing our own talent pipeline relates to the aviation and aerospace industry, and cultivating a sector ecosystem in the Bradenton area.

In the 2024-25 school year, the first cohort of students should be on a unique campus at the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. The new Aviation Maintenance Training school at SRQ will prepare students for Federal Aviation Administration licenses in airframe and aircraft powerplant maintenance. It’s a partnership between the airport, the School District of Manatee County, Manatee Technical College and Suncoast Technical College. This program is becoming a major selling point in our conversations with aviation-related businesses considering a Bradenton-area location.

Another key component to the ecosystem is developing programs in aviation-focused business and management as well as aerospace engineering at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The more we learn about what our educational institutions are accomplishing in partnership with local businesses, philanthropists and others, the more excited we become about building the talent pipeline in the Bradenton area. Follow us on social media for frequent updates as we collaborate with and support this vital effort.

Sharon Hillstrom is president and chief executive officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (BradentonAreaEDC.com). She may be contacted at info@bradentonareaedc.com or 803-9036.

2024 Economic Forecast Presentation

2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 1
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 2
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 3
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 4
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 5
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 6
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 7
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 8
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 9
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 10
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 11
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 12
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 13
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 14
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 15
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 16
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 17
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 18
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 19
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 20
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 21
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 22
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 23
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 24
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 25
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 26
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 27
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 28
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 29
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 30
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 31
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 32
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 33
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 34
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 35
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 36
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 37
2024 Economic Forecast - Slide 38
Slide1
Slide2
Slide3
Slide4
Slide5
Slide6
Slide7
Slide8
Slide9
Slide10
Slide11
Slide12
Slide13
Slide14
Slide15
Slide16
Slide17
Slide18
Slide19
Slide20
Slide21
Slide22
Slide23
Slide24
Slide25
Slide26
Slide27
Slide28
Slide29
Slide30
Slide31
Slide32
Slide33
Slide34
Slide36
Slide35
Slide37
Slide38
previous arrow
next arrow
Slide1
Slide2
Slide3
Slide4
Slide5
Slide6
Slide7
Slide8
Slide9
Slide10
Slide11
Slide12
Slide13
Slide14
Slide15
Slide16
Slide17
Slide18
Slide19
Slide20
Slide21
Slide22
Slide23
Slide24
Slide25
Slide26
Slide27
Slide28
Slide29
Slide30
Slide31
Slide32
Slide33
Slide34
Slide36
Slide35
Slide37
Slide38
previous arrow
next arrow

Contact Lauren

Lauren Kratsch

Lauren Kratsch

Senior Director Business Relations

Assistance for Local Companies Seeking to Export

Getting started and overcoming obstacles – The EDC’s partnership with the U.S. Commercial Service will help your business start off on the right foot. If you already are frustrated by previous attempts to export, the EDC and its partners will help you get on track.

Expanding your markets – Working with Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency, we assist local businesses connect with state-sponsored trade missions to foreign countries. Looking to ship by sea? The EDC experts at Port Manatee provide advice and access to global business relationships.

Grants and financing – Federal and state programs may be available to help reduce the cost of exporting your goods or services.

Assistance for Foreign-Based Companies

Our sophisticated approach to business recruitment is underpinned by our innate desire to provide essential services to companies entering the U.S. market. Because fostering a diverse business climate and community is important to our mission, we believe no question or ask is too big or too small. Below is a quick snapshot of the services and assets.