A community working together is needed to fortify Collier County's economy, according to local business leaders.
Ed Morton, a partner and managing director of Wasmer Schroeder & Co. and past CEO of NCH Healthcare System, challenged a group of about 75 community and businesses leaders Friday morning to be committed, not just involved in creating and sustaining a diverse economy. "We will never achieve change unless we are all committed," said Morton, who serves on the board of trustees of Florida Gulf Coast University.
Morton's mantra came at a breakfast at The Club at Naples Bay Resort in East Naples where The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce launched a new economic development initiative.
Dubbed the Partnership for Collier's Future Economy, the program will assist existing and future businesses. It is an alliance of 14 representatives from the chamber, government, private businesses and secondary and higher education.
"Through the partnership, we will help existing businesses which will protect the quality of life that we all enjoy," said Michael Wynn, chairman-elect of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.
This new partnership isn't a replacement for the former Collier County Economic Development Council, which closed its doors in September 2011.
Wynn noted the partnership's budget is only 15 percent of the annual budget of the EDC. The partnership has raised more than $119,000 of its $120,000 budget for programs, Wynn said.
About 80 percent of job growth comes from existing businesses, Wynn said.
Morton told the crowd that education is important.
Among community partners is the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals (CHBP).
Andrew Solis, president of the CHBP, sees the partnership as the future of Collier County.
"The different sectors of the economy have to work together to diversify the economy," Solis said.
CHBP is looking forward to working with the chamber and all of the other partners in the process and hopes to play a significant role in making the partnership successful, Solis said.
Dr. Stephen Weisberg, who attended the meeting, sees a potential for Collier County to become a healthcare destination for other areas, he said.
To do so, Weisberg said local hospitals need to be part of a larger system.
The partnership will provide the following programs:
FastTrac® GrowthVenture’: The prestigious Kauffman Foundation designed a 10-week business development program developed for CEOs of existing Collier companies with sales of under $1 million and from 4 through 10 employees. This program is slated to begin March 12; application deadline is Feb. 29.
The Roundtable: The sessions focus on entrepreneurs of companies with high growth potential. These relationship-development programs which include Executive Session, CEO Exchange, and Growth Acceleration Services will help organizational leaders with tools to assist in the direction of their business.
Community Outreach Campaign: A sophisticated business outreach campaign developed to identify CEOs of local, existing businesses in Collier County who may benefit from economic development programs available to them. Staff leads this volunteer business campaign that engages The Partnership volunteers in directly contacting businesses in our community.
The Chairman's Luncheon Series: Quarterly programs are conducted to gain business leaders' insight and opinions on topics impacting The Partnership and the community. Top executives including Legacy Leaders and community partner leadership are invited to participate in this series.
Business of the Month: An award is presented to an organization that has enhanced the community through financial, volunteer and active involvement in organizations and programs that assist in creating a better quality of life for all citizens in Collier County.
Excellence in Industry: The Excellence in Industry award program is a long-standing tradition in Collier County and in the state of Florida. Top companies who exemplify the use of innovation and a responsible approach to economic diversification and business and community.
Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/