The Way I See It
BY IAN BLACK * SRQ DAILY * SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION * SATURDAY DEC 17, 2016
While enjoying a sabbatical last May in the “Ould Sod,” my ire was elevated when I learned that the County Commission folded to the “fierce backlash” not of the business community, as referred to in Zach Murdoch’s recent column in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, but to the demands of one or two roofing contractors backed by the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange to shut the door to efforts to bring the corporate headquarters of the North American Roofing Company to our community. My ire was further elevated upon reading Mary Dougherty-Slapp’s recent column in SRQ Daily, which stated: “Let’s make Sarasota a place that businesses want to come to grow and hire workers with good paying and quality jobs.” So, are we now to believe that the GCBE, after advocating the very opposite in opposing Project Mulligan, now want us to believe that the board have had an epiphany? Hopefully so. The GCBE has always been a proponent of economic growth and vitality even though on this occasion they appeared to be in cahoots with those who would not be in favor of efforts to attract meaningful jobs to our community.
Diversification of our economy is a serious topic and I am heartened that the County Commission, encouraged by our newly elected Commissioners, have prioritized this subject for the BCC over the next year. As a community, we are asking for trouble if we do not take advantage of the incentives that are available for economic diversity. We need to balance the three-legged stool. It is not sufficient that we rest on our superior “quality of life” reputation to attract qualified targeted industries and corporate headquarters. These targeted industries are well documented by the State and are revised every three years. These industries have been identified as those that can help diversify local economies to make them more robust and resilient during an economic downturn or an economic recession.
I am all for working together to create a strong future as suggested by Mary’s column. The tools necessary to do this are readily available for use in the right circumstances. However, we as a community need to seriously get behind these efforts and not simply put the interests of a few before the greater good when an opportunity such as Project Mulligan comes before us in the future.
There is a time honored maxim in my industry: “Dear God please give me one more real estate boom and I promise I won’t fritter it away.”
Ian Black is founder of Ian Black Real Estate.