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  • 18 Oct 2022 10:34 AM | Anonymous

    Herald- Tribune

    It is less than a month since Hurricane Ian hit Florida. The magnitude of the devastation is unfathomable. Our hearts go out to those in the hardest-hit areas.

    I know that members of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange have been hard at work making repairs to schools and businesses to get them back online as quickly as possible. We are seeing the best in our community after such a terrible disaster. As you drive down the I-75 you see work crews from many different states coming to help repair the damage. As a country, we can be proud of how we come together for each other after disasters.

    During times like this, we even see political differences put aside. The federal and state government have been working together, counties have reached across lines to send law enforcement and emergency services to assist other agencies that have been stretched to the max, and once again we can be proud of Sarasota Memorial Hospital for providing services for other areas where hospitals were damaged.

    While many of us in the region were fortunate to have minimal damage, our neighbors to the south and east need our continued help. At GCBX, many of our members are reaching out to help their employees that were impacted by the storm and mobilizing crews to begin recovery efforts.

    Soon it will be time to look at the lessons learned from Ian. The biggest takeaway is that these storms are unpredictable. The governor was warning the entire west coast of Florida in the days before the storm and that warning was appropriate. Pinpoint accuracy for this type of storm just doesn’t seem possible, so we cannot depend on it. We all must be prepared. I thought I was prepared, but in retrospect I will do better next time.

    We all need to check our insurance policies and make sure we have adequate insurance coverage. The storm surge and river flooding associated with Ian have shown us that many parts of Florida  where homeowners did not think they needed flood insurance were not spared the fury and devastation caused by the flooding.

    Yet, when you look at many areas affected by the devastation, you see some structures that seem to have survived the worst of the fury. We will not know for quite some time, but I wonder if this means that newer building codes implemented after past disasters did, in fact, live up to their promises. This certainly is not how we wanted to evaluate them, but nature has put them to the test.

    Additionally, I recently saw a segment on "60 Minutes" about Babcock Ranch, a community 12 miles away from Fort Myers (according to the segment). The community had minimal damage and they featured residents resuming their normal lives in a noticeably brief period of time. It was amazing to see, and you couldn’t help but feel good for the residents of Babcock Ranch and to wonder what lessons can be learned from what they are doing down there.

    I am sure all that will happen in the appropriate time, but for now we need to help our neighbors. We also need to be grateful for the employees in city and county governments who are still mobilized in the EOC. They work immeasurable hours during these disasters, taking time away from their own families during a time when being with your family is one of your greatest gifts. We appreciate them and the work they do for all of us.

  • 02 May 2022 11:04 AM | Deleted user

    With inflation, gas prices, soaring rents, supply chain issues and costs catapulting through the roof, it was inevitable that economists were going to start talking about a recession or leveling off in the economy. Fortunately, from everything I’ve read recently, it is not expected to mimic the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 because the same factors are not at work in the economy.

    I don’t want to pretend to be an economist in this article, but I am a business person and I do pay attention to economists. From everything I’m hearing/reading we are due for some sort of leveling off. I’m hopeful that Florida will be an outlier in whatever lies ahead. Yet, we can’t be certain. We need to be prepared and mitigate the effects to the best of our ability.

    Lessons from the Great Recession taught those of us involved with commercial construction that the Capital Improvement Plan in a county is a life-preserver for local construction businesses in a downturn. When county governments can bond these funds so that they can begin these projects sooner at presumably lower costs, they can be moved forward in the county’s plan to push work out on to the street to support local businesses.

    This is exactly what counties in our region did during the recession that occurred earlier in the century. This resulted not only in a lifeline for local businesses, but cost savings for the county government. Additionally, these funds have a trickle down effect for other local businesses such as restaurants, insurance providers, dry cleaners and the myriad of other local businesses that these businesses and their employees utilize on a daily basis.

    Keeping local projects local by hiring local general contractors and subcontractors is a win for the community. Local firms hire local people and support the local economy, so we all benefit. Local projects not only keep local businesses alive and their workers employed, but as evidenced by the project at Selby Gardens, programs can be initiated to support the training and hiring of individuals in underserved communities. This is a win-win for the entire community. The place you and I call home!

    We can’t control what happens at the national level, but I believe Florida may be an outlier and prosper more than the nation as a whole, but we must be prepared for any and every eventuality.

    What we can control is our ability to react. The Penny for Improvement, which will be on the ballot on Nov. 8, gives us that ability. This is a continuation of a revenue source that Sarasota County has benefited from for over 32 years. This isn’t anything new, but it has been and remains important for public safety, water quality, environment, traffic congestion, parks and more.

    It is important to note that over 20% of the funds are provided by tourists and visitors. Benefits for Sarasota County residents include improved roads, police and fire safety vehicles, parks, schools, water and waste management systems and more. Many of these projects are built by local contractors. This benefits the entire local economy. Sometimes when we need it most.

    Mary Dougherty is executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. Contact her at

  • 15 Feb 2022 11:42 AM | Deleted user

    Facing a deadly pandemic and a fast-growing region, Sarasota Memorial Health Care needs nurses to help staff its hospitals and health care centers.

    But in just one week last month, three prospects rejected offers one after the other. Why? They started researching the housing market.

    “They are in sticker shock,” said Laurie Bennett, vice president of human resources. The job candidates frequently say they can't afford to live here, Bennett said, though in many cases the open positions are not entry-level and come with annual salaries between $40,000 and $50,000.

    Affordable housing was a term once mainly discussed for the very poor or disabled receiving Section 8 or other government help. Now, some of the area's largest employers warn that Sarasota and Manatee's affordable housing problem is not just an issue for residents worried about soaring rents and home prices, it has also blown into a broad-based business crisis that impacts jobs and broad sectors of the local economy.

    Lisa Krouse is president and CEO of the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation.

    In a recent survey, the Economic Development Council of Sarasota County asked its members to rank their top priorities and concerns. Affordable housing came out clearly on top, said Lisa Krouse, president and CEO.

    “That is extremely telling about how businesses are feeling, what they are experiencing and what they need help with,” Krouse said. “I don’t think there is a sector that is immune.”

    INDICATORS:Lack of affordable housing also affects the business community

    In 2021, apartment rents in the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area rose by 44.3%, according to By comparison, from 2017 through 2020 the average increase was just 1.5% per year.

    Home prices rose by more than 33% last year, well over double the national average, according to CoreLogic.

    After Sarasota County staff recommended spending just $5 million on affordable housing from the $84 million the county was receiving in federal COVID-19 relief funds, a coalition of local advocates helped persuade the County Commission to increase that to $25 million.

    Business leaders from a variety of industries were among those asking for help.

    'Is that where we want to go as a community?'

    “When we were consistently seeing clients with huge rent increases of $600 a month or $900 a month – you can’t even plan for that,” said Ashley Brown, chief executive officer of the Women’s Resource Center, a nonprofit that serves thousands of women in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

    In a conference call with other nonprofits, Brown was disturbed to hear that some caseworkers were advising clients to look for jobs outside the area.

    Ashley Brown is president and CEO of the Women's Resource Center.

    “Is that where we want to go as a community?” Brown said. “That was one of those sobering statements.”

    Brown was instrumental in assembling the coalition that appeared before the Sarasota County Commission.

    “We knew this was an issue for our clients, and we were curious how the businesses were being affected, too,” Brown said.

    She knew that the issue went beyond social services. If workers are priced out and forced to move, the ripple effect will eventually hit the residents who depend on the industries and services those workers are leaving.

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    “This is bigger than a group of people who can’t afford housing,” Brown said. “This is going to start impacting how we live.”

    'I can't afford to stay here'

    At Sarasota Memorial Health Care – the county’s largest employer – recruiters struggle to fill the hospital system’s 1,000 open posts, said Bennett, vice president of human resources.

    That's in large part because prospective employees find that they can’t afford to live here, she said.

    Adding to the challenge for recruiters, she said, is the fact that the pool of candidates has dried up, with traffic to the jobs page of the hospital’s website dropping off dramatically since August – a trend her team also attributes to housing costs.

    The news 110-bed Sarasota Memorial Hospital Venice Campus

    The squeeze is not just impacting the decisions of prospective employees – current staff members are affected, too. At least one registered nurse quit in late January after receiving a two-month notice that her south county rent was set to rise from $1,200 to $1,800 a month.

    “She said, ‘I’m going to have to resign. I can’t afford to stay here,’” Bennett recalled.

    An administrative assistant told Bennett that it now takes almost two paychecks to meet her rent, saying “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to hold on.”

    While Bennett is confident that the housing crisis has not affected the hospital system’s qualify of care as it underwent recent expansions, she is concerned about its ability to stay competitive. Skilled health workers are in high demand and short supply throughout the country, particularly after hardships brought on by the pandemic.

    Though she’s optimistic about talks among county leaders and philanthropic partners for solutions, it’s the immediate present on her mind.

    “I do worry about the short-term – how do we fill all of our positions?” she said. “It’s going to be tough until some of those longer-term strategies kick in.”

    Affordable housing a 'significant factor' in business decisions

    The affordable housing crisis is also playing a role in industrial business decisions, including those of PGT Innovations, Sarasota County's largest private employer.

    Last year the Venice-based manufacturer of windows and doors announced plans to expand with a manufacturing facility near Fort Myers – one that would generate 240 jobs.

    A big factor in the decision to expand in Lee County was a shortage of workers near the company's Venice plant – driven, the company believes, by a shortage in affordable housing, according to Debbie LaPinska, PGT's chief human resources officer.

    Workers assemble windows at PGT Innovations in 2021.

    The company has sought to offset community challenges for its employees by offering an on-site wellness center and, more recently, subsidized childcare.

    "However, the affordable housing issue is one that we have not been able to overcome on our own," LaPinska said.

    Already, many of its employees commute from as far away as North Port, Englewood, Port Charlotte and even Punta Gorda.

    Sarasota County's housing costs make it extremely challenging to recruit skilled workers, she said, forcing the company to relocate people from outside Florida, only to lose them once they get here and can't find housing.

    Those who do stay struggle for long periods before they pin down anything affordable – including one member of the maintenance team who lived in a hotel for months.

    While the company said it is committed to staying in Sarasota County and has no plans to relocate, the lack of workforce – in part due to the affordable housing shortage – is a "significant factor" in its decision to expand manufacturing operations someplace else.

    'It is absolutely slowing down the growth of industry in Sarasota County'

    Construction trades are feeling the impact, too.

    Mary Dougherty, executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange and part of the group that spoke before the commission, said her members describe stalled projects due to a shortage of workers.

    “That is lost capital investment in our local economy if that project doesn’t go forward,” she said.

    Mary Dougherty, executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange

    In the past, many people associated the crisis in affordable housing as an issue only for residents on fixed or very low incomes, Dougherty added.

    “But now we recognize that it’s a problem for business and has a domino effect for our local economy,” Dougherty said. “Lots of people are coming together to talk about this.”

    INDICATORS:Lack of affordable housing adds pressure to business recruitment, retention

    Like other major employers, Willis Smith Construction, a commercial construction firm, has run into recruitment challenges because of the area’s housing costs, said CEO David Sessions.

    His team courts new prospects at construction management programs at the University of Florida and other institutions.

    “We’ve had a couple of them specifically say that the cost of living, the cost of housing is so great that they decided to go elsewhere,” Sessions said. “We lost a couple of potential future employees specifically because of that.”

    The high housing costs threaten a key mission of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County – to develop a diverse economy and range of jobs to complement the dominant low–wage hospitality sector.

    Erin Silk, EDC’s vice-president of business development services, hears from companies that have been here for 15 or 20 years and have workers who are getting priced out of the housing market.

    “It’s keeping companies from being able to expand. We hear it constantly. They would be able to do more output if they can hire the staff,” Silk said. “It is absolutely slowing down the growth of industry in Sarasota County.”

    'Come together and focus on common goals'

    All of those interviewed for this story expressed hope and confidence in the area’s public-private partnerships, its proactive philanthropic foundations, and in public officials to tackle the problem.

    That was especially the case for one of the area’s biggest employers – Sarasota County Schools.

    Allison Foster, executive director of human resources and labor relations at Sarasota schools, was excited about the expected opening this year of Lofts on Lemon – a private-public affordable and workforce housing endeavor with units set aside for professionals, like teachers.

    “We have so many great foundations and community partners, hopefully we can continue to explore how to produce even more units to help offset the cost of housing for people who are moving to work in our community,” Foster said.

    In the meantime, the school system is facing the same challenge as other employers.

    Though the district offers one of the highest starting teaching salaries in the state, it’s not enough to compensate for high home and rent prices.

    “Even though we’re paying more, the cost of living is higher than other parts of the state,” Foster said.

    Like the others, the district’s recruiters have frequently been turned down by prospective candidates following job fairs with graduates at universities throughout Florida.

    “This is a new thing we are dealing with constantly,” she said.

    Brown, of the Women’s Resource Center, said the coalition’s intention at the county commission meeting was to push the conversation beyond quick-fix rental and mortgage assistance programs.

    The long-term goal was to capitalize on this one-time federal relief grant, to seize every opportunity possible as a community to increase the inventory of affordable housing.

    Growth in the affordable housing stock is key, Brown said, if a broad swath of individuals, families and local businesses is to thrive.

    “I think the more we come together and focus on common goals,” Brown said, “the better chance we have for making systemic changes.”

    This story comes from a partnership between the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Saundra Amrhein covers the Season of Sharing campaign, along with issues surrounding housing, utilities, child care and transportation in the area. She can be reached at

  • 01 Sep 2020 2:44 PM | Deleted user


    SECURITY ALARM CORPORATION announces launch of the best remote security camera solution with cellular self-monitoring video surveillance for jobsites and remote structures:

    ✓ Construction Sites

    ✓ Industrial Parks

    ✓ Supply and Material Stockpiles

    ✓ Outbuildings

    ✓ Vacant Properties

    This is the world’s best completely wireless solution with complete security and alerts. Receiving dependable information is vital to maintain credible security. The system operates on an intelligent SaaS platform that uses unique and failsafe methods via the cloud to send, receive, monitor, and manage alarms. Handles, processes, and delivers alerts directly to any number of your own designated computers or mobile devices. When motion is detected, an alert will be sent directly to the designee’s cell phone along with an image of intruder. Designee can then notify authorities immediately when needed. Fully audited so you know when and who has answered the alert. Does not rely on ‘Send and Forget’ type technologies such as email or SMS used by our competitors.


    ✓ Cable Free Installation

    ✓ Battery Powered

    ✓ Fully Cell Signal Enabled

    ✓ Infrared for Day & Night Imaging

    ✓ Fully Mobile for Temporary Application and Relocation

    ✓ Low Monthly Monitoring Fee

    Security Alarm Corporation will:

    ✓ Mount Camera at Selected Location at Approximately 9 Feet Above Ground (Pole, Post or

    Structure to be Provided by User)

    ✓ Program Camera(s) to Notify Designee That Will be Monitoring Camera(s)

    ✓ Assist in Loading Phone Application on Designee’s Phone

    If you need to know, you need Security Alarm Corporation!

    Click here for full article

  • 13 Mar 2020 9:36 AM | Deleted user
    ustrial facilities throughout
    Florida and beyond. The company is a leader in providing reliable, energy efficient and
    sustainable solutions for building owners and contractors and has won prestigious awards
    including Excellence in Construction, Top Special
    ty Contractor and Best
    Large Company in
    . To learn more, call (239) 332
    4646 or visit us online at
    ustrial facilities throughout
    Florida and beyond. The company is a leader in providing reliable, energy efficient and
    sustainable solutions for building owners and contractors and has won prestigious awards
    including Excellence in Construction, Top Special
    ty Contractor and Best
    Large Company in
    . To learn more, call (239) 332
    4646 or visit us online at
    ustrial facilities throughout
    Florida and beyond. The company is a leader in providing reliable, energy efficient and
    sustainable solutions for building owners and contractors and has won prestigious awards
    including Excellence in Construction, Top Special
    ty Contractor and Best
    Large Company in
    . To learn more, call (239) 332
    4646 or visit us online at

    Fort Myers, FL (March 6, 2020):

    B & I Contractors, an employee-owned Florida based Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing subcontractor, is taking a less traditional approach to celebrating its 60 years in business. As a token of gratitude to the communities to which B & I owes its great success and longevity, the 2020 celebration bash includes making a greater impact with the company’s charitable giving. Not-for-profits receiving B & I’s support include Education, Healthcare and Community organizations. From hosting a blood drive at B & I’s headquarters in Fort Myers to providing sponsorships to the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools Strides for Education 5k,the Hillsborough Community College Golf Classic, Ringling College of Art & Design Avant-Guard Fundraiser, the Golden Angels Gala benefiting the Jackson Health Foundation and the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Tour de Broward among others, B & I aims to strengthen community ties and share its resources where it matters most—saving lives and helping the younger generation flourish. “B & I demonstrates its Core Values—Quality, Integrity and Teamwork—through our work in the community. We strive to improve the Quality of life, show Integrity by our hard work, and we Team with wonderful not-for-profit partners to identify the needs in the community,” shared B & I’s President of 25 years and 2020 Lee County Heart Walk Chair, Gary Griffin. Established in 1960, B & I has offices located in Fort Myers, Tamarac, Sarasota and Tampa. The employee owned company specializes in providing HVAC, electrical, plumbing, refrigeration and building maintenance services for commercial, institutional and industrial facilities throughout Florida and beyond. The company is a leader in providing reliable, energy efficient and sustainable solutions for building owners and contractors and has won prestigious awards including Excellence in Construction, Top Specialty Contractor and Best Large Company in SWFL. To learn more, call (239) 332-4646 or visit us online at

  • 06 Feb 2020 12:32 PM | Anonymous

    But contractors say the Sarasota-Bradenton metro area needs bigger labor force.

    Construction employment continued to grow at the end of 2019 in Southwest Florida, but payrolls still trail their peak levels.

    Contractors in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties hired 1,900 additional workers during the 12-month period ended in December, according to a new report from the Associated General Contractors of America.

    The Sarasota-Manatee metro area generated 1,600 of those jobs, a 6% growth rate that tied for 57th among the 358 U.S. metro areas measured.

    Charlotte County’s 300 new construction jobs ranked 40th, with a 7% annual gain, AGC said.

    A total of 32,600 workers were counted in the construction trades in the region. But those workers remain in demand.

    labor shortage has dogged the construction sector in Southwest Florida for several years, slowing home building and large-scale commercial projects by months. Some of the subcontractors who perform most of the labor at construction sites – such as carpenters, plumbers and drywall installers – say they cannot find the staff to handle the surge of home, condominium, apartment, hotel and retail projects underway or planned.

    Florida’s 2.4% unemployment rate in the construction sector is the lowest on record, according to the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

    “Talent is at a premium. Every niche of our industry is busy and could use more workers,” said Steve Cona III, president of the Tampa-based chapter. “When talent is scarce, it drives up demand. You do see wages continue to increase during times when it’s hard to find people.”

    The Sarasota-Manatee area reported 27,800 workers in the construction trades at year end. But that remained off from the December peak of 31,400 jobs reported during the building boom in 2005.

    Construction employment grew in 211, or 59%, of the 358 metro areas over the year. It declined in 73 metros and was unchanged in 74.

    “There are not enough qualified workers in many parts of the country for firms to be able to keep pace with strong demand for work,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “Construction workforce shortages appear to be holding back further job gains in many parts of the country.”

    Click here for article link

  • 21 Jan 2020 2:14 PM | Anonymous

    Sutter Roofing Company has secured contracts on several large projects in our region. The firm will be performing the roofing and sheet metal work on the new Sarasota Memorial Hospital Venice facility as well as the new Oncology Center Tower on the hospital’s main campus. The firm also recently completed the new USF Morsani College of Medicine Tower in downtown Tampa. “We are very honored to be selected as the roofing contractor for these great healthcare projects for our region” remarked company President Doug Sutter. “Our relationship with the General Contractors, USF, and Sarasota Memorial is long-standing and we will excel on these projects for these great clients.”

    The firm also was awarded the contract for the new Jabil Circuit Headquarters in St.Petersburg, the Amazon Prime Air Fulfillment Center at Lakeland Airport, and the Toronto Blue Jays new Spring Training Academy in Dunedin. In total the projects are over 1,126,400 square feet will require 38,000-man hours to complete with an aggregate value of $ 8,750,000. “These types of projects require subcontractors that are sophisticated, well-capitalized, bondable, and have a proven record of safety, production and quality. We bring those attributes to every project regardless of the size” added Sutter. “We are fortunate the economy and particularly construction in Florida is booming. These projects should get us off to a great start in 2020!”

    Sutter Roofing is Sarasota based commercial roofing and sheet metal contractor with 6 locations throughout Florida. The firm was founded in 1902 and began Florida operations in 1979. They are among the largest commercial contractors in the United States.

    For more information:

    Whitney Beasley

    941-377-1000 Ext 417 ///

  • 13 Jan 2020 3:34 PM | Anonymous

    GATES Construction has completed 7 One Palm, a boutique condominium of 16 residences. Located in Sarasota’s vibrant and most desirable downtown neighborhood at 711 S. Palm Avenue in Sarasota, the address offers convenient access to Burns Square, South Palm Avenue, State and Main Streets, Island Park and the Bayfront Marina. The 5-story building features 3 bedroom, 3 bath luxury residences with semi-private elevator foyers gourmet kitchens, and spacious terraces. Amenities include a covered parking garage and private storage lockers, oversized pool, spa, private cabanas, fitness center, and a Paw Park. Residents can relax in the resort-style hideaway enjoying the gas grills and fireside tables. Architectural and design services were provided by DSDG Architects.

    For over 25 years, GATES Construction has provided award-winning construction management, general contracting and design-build services throughout the Southeast United States and Latin America.  Their diverse portfolio of commercial, multi-family, industrial, healthcare, and club and hospitality projects showcases numerous landmarks constructed over the past quarter of a century.  As Florida’s premier builder, GATES serves its clients from offices in Bonita Springs, Sarasota and Palm Beach Gardens.  For more information on GATES, please call (239) 593-3777 or visit the website at

  • 11 Dec 2019 11:22 AM | Anonymous

    What: ACE SRQ: SOCIAL Holiday Social

    When: December 11th, 2019

    Time: 6 – 8:30 PM

    Where: Gilbane Building Company’s Downtown Office1950 Ringling Blvd, Suite 301, Sarasota, FL 34236

    The ACE Mentor Program of America, Inc. (ACE), a national program inspiring high school students to pursue careers in design and construction, is launching a new division, ACE SRQ: SOCIAL. The Inaugural Holiday Social starts at 6 pm and goes until 8:30 pm on December 11th at 1950 Ringling Blvd, Suite 301 in Sarasota. Sponsored by Gilbane Building Company and TM Partners, it is the first of ACE SRQ: SOCIAL’s quarterly events. This new division is geared to help meet the HUGE annual scholarship goal of $80,000.00. This event connects people passionate about reaching the next generation of architects, contractors, and engineers.

    The ACE Mentor Program offers real-world opportunities for high school students in architecture, engineering, and construction. More than 9,000 students from 1,000 high schools annually participate in ACE. Beyond mentoring, the ACE mission is to financially support each student’s continued success through scholarships and grants. If you’d like to experience ACE’s challenges, opportunities and rewards, contact Tara Sall, the Affiliate President or Michele Demperio, the Affiliate Marketing Director. More information is available about the program at


    Michele Demperio


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