How to make a quality impact on someone’s life

The Starfish Story
One day a man was walking along the beach when he notices a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up, and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they will die.”
“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.” Read More

Training Provides Entryway To Insurance Industry

The insurance industry holds a surprising amount of opportunity in the Sarasota area, but even if people living here know that, how do they break in? A new program from CareerEdge Funders Collaborative and the Women’s Resource Center could help more people take their first step into a lucrative field.

Free 4-40 Customer Service Insurance Training, one of CareerEdge’s Bridges to Careers programs, will provide prospective job applicants with training to earn a key certificate for entry-level insurance employees. Working with State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, a three-week class will be offered at the Women’s Resource Center in Sarasota.

It’s a certification many individuals earn through online prep and testing, but through the new program, students will work with an SCF instructor, and will hear from local insurance employers who come in as guest speakers. The first three-week class runs Oct. 21 through Nov. 7, with classes taking place from 9am to noon from Monday through Thursday. Read More

Grant assists empolyers with advanced manufacturing skills training

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, the workforce economic development initiative of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce that works to provide opportunities for better jobs and wages in Manatee and Sarasota counties, was selected to receive a $125,000 grant from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, funded by The Boeing Co. The grant’s specific purpose is for on-the-job training in high-demand advanced manufacturing skills.  Read more.

Boeing Grant to Fund OJT, Boost Manufacturing

A new grant to CareerEdge Funders Collaborative from Boeing will help employers cover training for manufacturing jobs in the region. Mireya Eavey, executive vice president of CareerEdge, said the funding provides both the opportunity to diversify the region’s economy and help local workers already working manufacturing lines to better themselves professionally. Read More

Workforce training could be coming to Newtown

The program aims to teach 12 people from North Sarasota how to perform air conditioning maintenance.

By Nicole Rodriguez – Staff Writer – Herald Tribune

SARASOTA — A proposed workforce training program could finally create long-term, high-paying jobs in impoverished Newtown if the Sarasota City Commission supports it.

The program, championed by Commissioner Willie Charles Shaw, aims to provide 12 individuals from North Sarasota with training in air conditioning maintenance — a trade that pays $40,000 to $45,000 annually for entry level positions. The four-month program would start in May, with classes three days a week at the Boys and Girls Club in Newtown, where unemployment is notoriously high.

Shaw is partnering with the Argus Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes business and collaboration between the public and private sectors, and CareerEdge, an organization dedicated to expanding workforce development, to pitch the idea to the commission and ask for more than $30,000 from the city to launch the program at the board’s April 1 meeting.

“My hope is to see individuals become skill-trained to do these jobs that are going to be in the area,” Shaw said.

CoolToday, a local air conditioning and electrical services company, has committed to provide a trainer for the students, while Argus plans to pitch in $5,000 for the program in addition to $1,100 it already spent on consulting services to ensure this kind of job training is what Newtown needs. CareerEdge would contribute roughly $15,000 for training costs and paid internships after the program ends. The city’s contribution would cover the cost of equipment that would be used for future classes, Mireya Eavey, chief workforce officer for the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce leading the CareerEdge initiative, said.

CareerEdge last year successfully started an automotive repair program at Suncoast Technical College and an air conditioning installation program at Manatee Technical College in which students, many of whom work during the day, received certification in the fields and went on to have sustainable careers, Eavey said.

It’s Eavey’s hope to replicate the success in North Sarasota, she said, adding that the program would create an opportunity for residents to work in the community where they live.

“We want to provide opportunities for individuals in Newtown to start a good-paying career, to be able to support their families,” Eavey said. “I want individuals to know that they have opportunities and they can make good wages and be able to afford to live here. Some of them may be able to start their own businesses.”

Several meetings were held last year by program proponents with community members, area employers and educators who voiced the need for such a program, said former Sarasota County Commissioner and Argus Executive Director Christine Robinson. She hopes the program will become a fixture in the community and eventually have its own dedicated building for workforce training in Newtown, Robinson said.

“The ultimate hope is that we’ll run this program through a couple of cycles and we’ll see success and expand the program to other areas and grow this to the point where they’ll need a building in Newtown and we can have a technical training school up there,” Robinson said. “But we want to be smart about this and make sure that there’s a need for a building.”

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Public Defender Larry Eger plans to participate by helping adult students regain suspended driver’s licenses and also help expunge criminal records to increase the chances of landing a job after training ends, Robinson added.

The program pitch comes on the heels of Newtown being designated as one of four Qualified Opportunity Zones in the city under the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The program for the economically distressed areas helps low-income communities by providing tax advantages for private individuals and corporations that invest in an Opportunity Zone Fund — a provision included in the sweeping tax bill signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2017. It encourages the private sector to reinvest capital gains from other investments into businesses and start-ups in the zones, city officials said.

The four zones mirror U.S. Census tracts and were selected based on poverty rate, family income, unemployment and other factors, city officials said. In addition to Newtown, the zones include the Rosemary District, Gillespie Park, Laurel Park, part of downtown and an area between Tuttle Avenue and Beneva Road. Investors are given a tax break based on the about of time they keep money in a fund. For example, investing gains in a fund for more than five years results in being taxed only on 90 percent of the gain, according to city documents. Leaving gains in a fund for seven years results in being taxed on 85 percent of the gain. If an investment is held in a fund for more than 10 years, the investor will be excluded from paying taxes on any returns the fund generated during the investment period.

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CareerEdge Takes Part in SRQ Media Group SMARTgirl 2019!

SMARTgirl 2019-SRQ Media Group CareerEdge Sarasota 1 SMARTgirl 2019-SRQ Media Group CareerEdge Sarasota 2







Girl power took over the Hyatt Regency Sarasota this past Friday, March 15, as SRQ Media Group hosted its annual SMARTgirl Luncheon, inviting students from area schools and young women from local organizations like Girls Inc., the Girl Scouts, the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs to meet and engage with volunteer mentors from organizations and businesses all across the region, for a day of women empowering women.

The half-day program began with attendees choosing which three mentors they would be spending the first part of the day with in the Dream Career Incubator. Nearly 30 volunteer mentors came from a wide range of professions, including Leymis Bolanos Wilmott of Sarasota Contemporary Dance and The Players’ Morgan Gerhart, Paige LeMay of Coastal Orthopedics and Jeannie Perales from Selby Gardens, entrepreneurs like Lee-En Chung of Ivy Ventures and nonprofit leaders like Kameron Hodgens of the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center. “They are here today because they believe in the power of girls working together,” said SRQ Media CEO Lisl Liang. “They believe in you and in your dreams.”

And after a pair of workshops to flex attendees’ creative muscles and break the ice at the same time, the SMARTgirls entered the next room for a set of rotating mini-workshops, spending the next hour hopping from table to table to meet with their mentors and learn about the possibilities ahead of them.

It wouldn’t be a luncheon with lunch, and it wouldn’t be a SMARTgirl luncheon without inspiring speakers. While the mentors and mentees recharged and refilled, they heard from supporting sponsors like Mark Smith of The Ringling Museum and Roxie Jerde of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. “I’m looking at a room of young leaders,” said Jerde. “Everyone in this room has the potential to impact a cause, another person and our community.” Britney Guertin of Visit Sarasota County took the podium next, further encouraging the young women of the audience to take their futures into their hands. “It’s not just about finding your career,” she said, “it’s about finding your passion.”

The luncheon ended with a special presentation from Bradenton’s own Blair Bloomston of Game On Nation, where she is considered a leading expert on the use of Game Dynamics and Game Theory to improve communications and team-building. With a focus on anti-bullying, she led the assembly through an interactive workshop, before reminding each in attendance of their own power, and responsibility, to be a leader in their community. “If you can see one,” Bloomston said, “you can be one.”

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Behind fast-track classes, group aims to solve labor shortage

Business Oberser CareerEdge

The labor shortage that plagues a variety of fields in the region has met a formidable foe: classes that get workers on the job — quickly.

by: Mark Gordon – Managing Editor – Business Observers

Walt Eppard fell into a technical career in the trades in the late 1950s while in the Air Force. The military said he couldn’t fly because he was colorblind. So he instead worked in aircraft maintenance and later technical writing.

Eppard eventually got into real estate development and ended up in Sarasota. His decades-long career ranges from a variety of shopping plazas to Waterlefe Golf & River Club, off the Manatee River in east Manatee County.

Now 86, Eppard is returning to his roots. He has a leading role in a series of classes to give people, mostly in their early 20s, a boost to get into the trades, starting with auto repair and HVAC installation.

While doing so, Eppard is helping CareerEdge, a unit of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, shape a new way to train the area’s tradespeople. The model? Create short, laser-focused curriculums and what the organization calls “fast track express programs” that are highly tailored to specific employer needs. The employers that work with the program, in a first for CareerEdge, vet and interview the students, then hire them after the classes.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and this has been the most exciting program we’ve had where we really connected with the donor,” says Mireya Eavey, chief workforce officer for the chamber, who oversees CareerEdge. “It’s different than anything we’ve done before.”

The fast-track programs are essentially a triangle: Eppard, through the Eppard Family Foundation, provides funds for tuition and other costs, so students attend for free. The second side is CareerEdge, which runs the program and student enrollment. The third side is area companies, including Ultimate Air, Cool Today, Del-Air and Johnstone Supply, which all donated equipment and worked with Eavey and Eppard on the curriculum.

In turn, these classes address what many executives of companies in the trades say is their core obstacle to growth: finding, hiring and retaining skilled tradespeople.

Jeff Markey, founder and owner of Sarasota-based Ultimate Air, in business locally since 1959, says these fast-track classes don’t compete with other local classes or curriculums that lead to an associate’s degree or something similar. While those are fine, Markey says the need for air conditioner installers is immediate, and the lack of enough good ones presents a significant impact on generating revenue. “This isn’t vocational training,” says Markey. “It’s very heavy on (on-the-job) teaching skills, and there are few, if any, textbooks.”

The first fast-track program through the Eppard-CareerEdge partnership was held last summer, for auto mechanics. Human resources officials from eight area dealerships helped write the training curriculums, while Eppard paid for tuition for 32 students. Those students, who came to the 11-week classes, held on weekends and nights at Suncoast Technical College in Sarasota, with no auto mechanic experience, were then offered jobs at area dealerships. The pay started at $12 an hour, with chances for raises quickly by meeting performance goals.

“Some of these students were working at McDonald’s and Walmart before this,” Eppard, “so this is a big step up for them.”

The HVAC fast-track classes got an even better response. Some 450 people applied for 12 spots in the inaugural HVAC fast-track session, which began Jan. 22 and runs through April. Employees of the partnering HVAC companies teach the classes, held at Manatee Technical College. Those teachers show the students how to install a unit, then watch them do it. Bridges to Careers, CareerEdge’s soft skills training, is incorporated into the beginning and ending of the training.

Like Markey and Eavey, Eppard laments the lost art of hands-on training for people to get decent-paying jobs where they use their hands. With the early success so far, Eppard anticipates adding some other disciplines, from plumbing to drywall installation.

“I’ve been aware of the need and thinking about doing something like this for a while,” Eppard says. “Real estate has been good to me, and I’m at a point in my life financially where I can really help.”

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