Michael A. Moran, CIC
Republican for Sarasota County Commissioner, District 1
Given proper leadership, Sarasota Florida is in a unique position for economic prosperity.
Throughout the country, millions of Americans are reevaluating their lives. People are questioning the security of their jobs, their choice of housing and why they live where they live. Many talented, dedicated people have lost their jobs and are simply tired of living in colder climates.
For generations, Florida’s economy has been focused around tourism and seasonal retirees. Low paying retail and hospitality jobs have traditionally been the basic jobs available to Floridians to support tourist activity. Money from tourists and seasonal retirees has been the foundation to generate revenue to support Florida and its counties.
Sarasota is better than this! We are NOT just a tourist spot. Sarasota is a wonderful place to raise a family, start a business or have an active retirement. We need to be very smart on how we position Sarasota for the future. I was born and raised in Metro-Detroit. Detroit used to be an incredibly beautiful place to live, work and play. Detroit had magnificent homes with amazing architecture. Parks, community pools and endless places to go for entertainment and fun. Due to lack of proper leadership and planning, look at Detroit now.
The leaders of our community need to be forward thinking and have vision if Sarasota is to be a vibrant community for future generations.
Sarasota could be (should be) a place where Professionals, Entrepreneurs and Executives desire to call home. We need high paying professional jobs to attract this talent base, protect our tax revenue streams and our quality of life. Technology firms, healthcare ventures and research firms should be welcomed with open arms from the leaders of our community. These businesses have endless choices throughout the country on where to build and invest their money.
Sarasota is one of the most beautiful places in this country. With proper planning and the right leadership, Sarasota can attract the “best of the best” as our country finds its way through this transitional time in America.
“Economic Diversity” will be a key factor for the future success of Sarasota. A lack of “Economic Diversity” can put any community in jeopardy. The construction industry in Florida is a good example. Some estimates say, Florida lost over 350,000 construction jobs in the economic downturn. Simply put, this lack of planning and foresight put a shock through our community. Sarasota cannot just build and hope people will come and buy. Construction needs to be a part of a larger, comprehensive economic growth plan. A plan with a healthy balance between our precious environment and the need for a strong pro-business community. Construction in our community must be directly interconnected with a vision for economic growth.
With proper leadership and a plan for strong “Economic Diversity”, we can attract Fortune 500 companies offering stable, high paying jobs. High paying jobs will attract talented people from around the nation. These stable residents in our community will create a demand for real estate along with many goods and services. With this growth plan, we can have a stable economy, increase our land values and design and plan an “Economically Diverse” community that is ready for the future.
Any region in this country without strong, stable employment is in jeopardy. Without a flourishing community of employed and prosperous people it is just a matter of time before the taxing authority of the community is struggling for revenue. When a municipality is struggling for revenue they have very few choices...
Given this reduction in revenue to the community, you have a philosophical fork in the road…
You can increase taxes to make up for the lack of revenue
You can dip into "surplus" if you have any
You attract residents with high paying jobs to increase your tax base
In my mind, increasing a tax without a comprehensive plan is a politician’s cover-up. I strongly feel you cannot tax your way out of a situation that is flawed from the beginning.
Unemployment, looming bankruptcy and the homelessness that follows have a demoralizing impact on a community. Besides the unproductive emotional environment that is created, tremendous pressure is put on various public entities. Real Estate values tumble. Our police force experiences added demands. Shelters, foster care, food bank programs, addiction treatment facilities and other community service programs are faced with overwhelming demands. Again, I offer you Detoit as a textbook example.
The solution to this ominous dilemma is obvious. A healthy, vibrant community filled with employed productive citizens creates an adequate tax base to sustain the needed and desired services of any reasonable community.
Again, Sarasota is unique. We are in an enviable position to attract talented Americans that are looking for transformation in their lives. We need to take advantage of this opportunity and we need to be very strategic on how we go about it.
The leadership of Sarasota needs to help create an environment where someone can exist in Sarasota from the cradle to the grave. Exist with realistic dreams of employment options to meet any standard of living. After decades of satisfying employment, settle into an active retirement with your children and grandchildren close by. This IS possible with proper leadership and planning.