BUSINESS BUZZ: Local briefs about local businesses

CareerEdge Funders, a southwest Florida workforce organization that helps local businesses find and train skilled employees, used $550,000 in grants from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation on more jobs, more training and more employee promotions than expected during 2011.

“Even in an economic downturn, we have proven that when funders and businesses collaborate and work together, we can accomplish amazing things,” said Mireya Eavey, executive director of CareerEdge.

Year-end results show that CareerEdge and employer-funded programs collaborated to train 1,100 workers and 357 job seekers, helped individuals earn more than 3,300 educational or industry credentials, assisted 342 previously unemployed workers find employment and saved 177 area jobs.

New College value again rated highly

New College of Florida is No. 3 on the “Best Value Public College in America” list for 2012 by Princeton Review and USA Today.

As part of the media coverage of this year’s rankings, New College was featured on NBC’s “Today Show” and in USA Today’s print edition Tuesday morning.

“It is a wonderful school, a small school,” the Princeton Review’s Robert Franek said on the “Today show.” “It’s the official honors college of the state of Florida. It’s an enormous academic value and a great financial aid value as well.”

It is the fourth time New College has been among the top three best value public schools. The college was No. 2 in 2011 and No. 3 in 2010 and 2009. The only other Florida state university on the 2012 list is the University of Florida, ranked No. 7.

Running store wins regional recognition

In Competitor magazine’s annual reader survey, published in its January issue, On A Shoestring, of Bradenton, was chosen the “Best of” Running Store in the Southeastern United States, and Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club, also of Bradenton, won “Best of” Running Club in the Southeastern United States.

More than 5,000 readers took part in the survey.

Waste Pro rewards its safest drivers

Waste Pro presented $10,000 each to four garbage truck drivers who have had flawless safety records over the past three years.

The ceremony was held at Waste Pro’s regional facility in Bradenton. The drivers were Jose Martinez-Mendoza, Monnie Braxton, Mark Hammonds and Lewis Brown.

Since 2004, Waste Pro drivers have received $470,000 in Safety Awards.

Auto clinic gets Angie’s List award

Gulf Auto Clinic, in Bradenton, received the 2011 Angie’s List Super Service Award, an honor bestowed annually on only about 5 percent of all the businesses rated by the service.

Winners have met strict eligibility requirements, including earning a minimum number of reports and an exemplary rating from their clients and abiding by Angie’s List guidelines.

Koontz opens own law firm

Attorney and certified public accountant Jo Ann Koontz has formed Koontz & Associates PL, a law firm focusing on residential and commercial real estate transactions, federal and state tax law and business law.

An Ohio native, Koontz received a bachelor’s in business administration and her law degree from Ohio Northern University. She worked locally with the law firms of Icard Merrill, then Yesner & Boss.

Koontz & Associates will occupy the former Yesner & Boss office at 1819 Main Street, Suite 215, Sarasota. The entire Sarasota staff will become employees of Koontz & Associates.

“Nothing has changed except the name on the sign,” Koontz said.

Also staying with the office is Jacqueline “Jackie” Meeker, who will focus on foreclosure defense and civil litigation, as well as real estate, tax and corporate law. A Florida native, Meeker received her undergraduate degree in legal studies from the University of Central Florida and her law degree from Stetson University School of Law.

Sarasota chamber kick off breakfast

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce will launch “The Year of the Member” Friday at its annual Kick-Off Breakfast.

Seven respected business and community leaders and chamber members, including Congressman Vern Buchanan, will share strategies for success and suggest strategies our community can use to strengthen its economy.