Gulf Coast Business Review 40 UNDER 40

29 July 2005,   By ,   0 Comments

Gulf Coast Business Review 40 Under 40, 2005
2005 Honorees
July 29-August 4,

By Isabelle Gan / Contributing Writer

Recognized as a mecca for retirees, Greater Sarasota-Manatee isn’t known for its allure to the young professional. But little by little that’s changing. Since 2000, U.S. Census figures show Greater Sarasota’s 20-to-40 age group grew 1% while the 60-and-over group shrunk by 1.4%. The 20- to 40-year-olds, in fact, held their ground in terms of the total percentage of population here (25%) while retirees, clearly the dominant group, shrunk from 35% to 32% of total population. Those aren’t dramatic shifts, but the perception and reality is that as the Gulf Coast continues to grow, more and more working people are choosing Manatee and Sarasota counties as the place they want to raise their families.

Gulf Coast Business Review

40 Under 40, 2005 2005 Honorees July 29-August 4,

Indeed, in this year’s class of the Gulf Coast Business Review’s 40 under 40 (our sixth) one of the common responses to what they love about this area was this: the big-city amenities and the small-town feel. They especially want to preserve the latter. As in previous years, the 2005 Class consists of entrepreneurs, lawyers, health care professionals, artists, environmentalists, builders, realtors and corporate executives. They’re an optimistic group. They want to make a difference. We received more than 100 nominations, the most we’ve received since we started publishing the list in 2000. GCBR’s editors evaluated each of the candidates on the basis of career accomplishments, levels of expertise and responsibility in their fields and community involvement. With scores assigned to each, we narrowed the list (but not without difficulty). This year’s list contains not just 40, but 41 accomplished and promising professionals who help make our community a vibrant place to live. Why 41? In two instances, the nominees were co-founders of businesses. And in both cases they were difficult to separate. (Like separating salt and pepper, milk and cereal. One goes with the other.) In some cases, we simply had to make choices on the basis of rules (we were unable to reach or hear from all of the nominees before our deadline). With this year’s Class of 40 under 40, we reached a milestone.

For the first time in the history of the Review’s 40 under 40, there are more women than men (23 women). One is the youngest woman to own a real estate company in Sarasota; another is the first woman to receive a coveted management award in her industry. Yet another is the first woman bank officer and vice president of her company.

They were born all over (14 states and three foreign countries). Six are Sarasota natives (the largest contingent). Five are native Floridians. New York, Massachusetts and Ohio produced the next largest contingents. Three are native Canadians; one was born in Great Britain; and one was born in Saigon, Vietnam. Many of the young professionals in this list are here to stay. The climate, the beaches and the quality of life have helped them decide to plant roots here. Many told us they like it here so much they wouldn’t change a thing. As one 40 under 40 honoree wrote: “It is so easy and enjoyable to live here. I appreciate the sophistication of work in this community, balanced with a simple lifestyle. I also love the natural beauty of the area and the interesting people who live here. I truly think that we have something very special here. We have a vibrant community that truly cares about improving our living conditions.”

Other common themes:

  • Affordable housing was one of the buzz phrases. The escalating price of real estate was touted as one of the biggest obstacles to luring young professionals. Without it, they say, more of their kind will go elsewhere.
  • Many want to preserve the environment. They have trepidations about growth. Said one: “Development is great for our future. I am worried that we will unintentionally become a big city, like so many other destinations.”
  • Some of the parents in the group are concerned about the quality of the schools.
  • Three said they want better airline service.
  • Some had simple changes in mind: More shopping opportunities. One would change “the noise ordinance.” One wants medians on Bee Ridge Road. Asked what she would change here, one of the honorees said: “We need a Cheesecake Factory!” Another said: “I’d also love to see regular Flamenco performances at the Columbia Restaurant in St. Armands Circle.”

A clear pattern among this year’s honorees was a desire for a community where work, family and leisure co-exist. They want a community that emphasizes a balanced life.