New Workforce Effort Seeks to Boost Wages

A new workforce collaborative announced the injection of more than $1.5 million in funding commitments to help move low-income workers in Manatee and Sarasota counties into higher paying jobs.

The Manatee Sarasota Workforce Funders Collaborative unveiled plans to focus initially on healthcare workers in the region. Healthcare was identified by leaders as one of the main growth industries in the region. Meredith Hector, program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“We can really fill in some of the gaps if we do this right,” Hector said.

The workforce group pointed to a labor analysis showing that healthcare and social assistance industry comprises 15 percent of employment in Sarasota and 10 percent in Manatee.

The Knight Foundation, based in Miami, is injecting $1 million toward the workforce effort on its own. Mark Pritchett, vice president of community investment for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, noted that all of that money is outside capital, and not simply money raised locally which will be re-circulated in the community.

The Gulf Coast foundation will also provide $150,000 and provide oversight for the fiscal operations. The City of Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency is providing $200,000 to help bolster resource management