Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Herald launches local economic roundtable

Business Editor Jennifer Rich and I held our first economic forum last night in the Bradenton Herald’s assembly room. We invited about 30 community and business leaders, and I am really encouraged by the beginning discussions.

The inaugural members of our forum include bankers, lawyers, Realtors, builders, manufacturing experts, a doctor, developers and more. The format was a roundtable discussion, with these broad questions as a starting point:

1. How do we create our own local stimulus? What areas should receive our focus first?

2. What can this group do to generate job opportunities, and also get the right people in those jobs?

3. If this group were to form a bartering pool now, what would you contribute?

One participant is David Klement, director of USF’s Institute for Public Policy and Leadership. He chuckled last night after I assured the group that the conversation was informational at this stage, and not for immediate headlines. After working with me as our former editorial page editor for years, David remarked, he never thought he’d hear me say “off the record”!

Well, just for one night, we wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable in being brutally honest, with no aftermath. And the ideas that started taking hold last night can’t stay under wraps for long.

The Bradenton Herald and provide the perfect venues to communicate them to our entire community. I plan to share more details with you as we firm up a plan of attack -– and we know we must move quickly to spark the kind of changes we believe are needed.

We’ll be seeking input from as many people as possible in coming weeks.

-- Joan

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