We apply business leadership to important community issues.

Welcome to Issue 3 of our digital 2019 quarterly newsletter!  
I am pleased that the Argus partnership effort with Sarasota City Commissioner Willie Shaw and CareerEdge from the Sarasota Chamber has come to fruition!  Eight students began HVAC training at the Roy McBean Boys and Girls Club in Newtown at the end of May and are now receiving express training from the private sector, Cool Today, to repair HVAC systems.  This will be a life changing experience for these students and will hopefully plant the seed for more workforce training programs in Newtown.  
I would like to thank Commissioner Shaw for reaching out to us to partner with him and especially Mireya Eavey, Chief Workforce Officer at CareerEdge and the Sarasota Chamber for the immense amount of work she put into this program.  She is incredible at what she does and the speed in which she does it.
Argus began working on water quality last year and we continue to work on it with partners. We successfully advocated for the county to allocate $5 million towards septic to sewer funding earlier in the year and encouraged the commission to consider expanding the program.  The Commission is now considering expanding the program to South Venice.
In May, we saw the successful closure of an issue that we had been working on for two and a half years. Argus led the charge with our Coalition of Business Association members to get the county commission policy on mobility fees implemented in a resolution and also to update the county impact fee ordinance. Mobility fees were marketed as a streamlined effort that allowed the county to spend money in a more flexible way on transportation. At the same time, the policy allowed property owners to pay their fee for their impact and studies without the need for additional bureaucracy. We successfully worked with county administration and staff to ultimately get the policy put into effect.
Finally, Argus took a strong position on keeping administrative review in the City of Sarasota. We supplied the City Commission with an e-mailed letter and also testified at the City Commission meeting. We detailed the history of administrative review and the reasons why it is so vital to the economic development of the city. We are grateful that the City Commission understood this issue to be code-related and not process-related.
We had a very successful quarter of events, with 175 attending our Meet the Minds with Senator Rick Scott.  It was an incredible success and we are grateful that Senator Scott chose us for his first public appearance in the region since becoming a Senator. Our joint Meet the Minds luncheon with Gulf Coast Builders Exchange featuring The James Madison Institute was engaging and educated our audience on the effect of impact fees and regulation on affordable housing.  
The rain stopped and the clouds went away for our Low Country Boil.  We had 250 guests mingle and eat together in a casual setting on beautiful Sarasota Bay.  Our Sip and Savor was also a great success at The Field Club.  
Take a look at our upcoming Meet the Minds in our newsletter. We will be hosting Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee at a Meet the Minds in August and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran at a Meet the Minds in September.  Both are open for reservations!
Get your foursomes together!  Our Golf Tournament reservations are open!  We sold out last year so don't wait!  This year, we are moving back to Laurel Oak Country Club and this promises to be another great time!
Finally, we are pleased to announce the honorees for our Lifetime Achievement Awards presented by Mote Marine Laboratory.  Our honoree is Senator John McKay and our posthumous honoree is Eugenie Clark. Both have had incredible impacts on our community.  We are excited to honor their work and legacies.  
We appreciate the support of our membership, and I want to thank each member for their leadership and investment in the future of Sarasota County, its municipalities, and our schools! It is your investment that allows us to apply business leadership to important community issues.



Christine Robinson
Executive Director 

Catch up on our latest news

Rick Scott will speak to Argus Foundation in Sarasota next week

Former Florida governor making first appearance in the region since being elected to the US Senate

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott will be in Sarasota on April 12 to speak to the Argus Foundation, his first public appearance in the region since winning a Senate seat.

Sarasota County makes moves to create jobs, train workforce

Career Edge, an organization dedicated to expanding workforce development, has trained more than 5,300 workers, helped create close to 1,500 jobs and invested $10.6 million in regional workforce development from 2011 to 2018, according to the organization. The County Commission's consideration of the $300,000 for Career Edge comes on the heels of the city of Sarasota  agreeing to contribute just over $34,000 to launch an air conditioning workforce training program in Newtown, where unemployment is notoriously high. The Argus Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes business and collaboration between the public and private sectors, is also chipping in financially to start up the four-month program slated to start in May.

In Sarasota, Rick Scott calls for military involvement in Venezuela

Senator takes provocative position in speech to Argus Foundation

SARASOTA - U.S. Sen. Rick Scott reiterated his view Friday during a speech in Sarasota that the U.S. military should help deliver aid to Venezuela, a provocative position that risks drawing America soldiers into an armed conflict in the South American nation.

"It shouldn't be America by themselves; we ought to continue the sanction process, but we also ought to look at whether we use our military assets - with other countries and after the request by the rightful leader ... Juan Guaido - use military assets to give humanitarian aid," Scott told about 175 people gathered at Michael's On East for the Argus Foundation event.

Women In Business Leadership and Awards Luncheon Celebrates Trailblazers and Entrepreneurs

Closing out the luncheon, the crowd recognized the finalists and inductees into the 2019 Women in Business Leadership Circle, as selected by a judges panel of professional women. Winners this year include: ...Christine Robinson, executive director of The Argus Foundation...

Conservative think tank: Regulations hurt affordable housing growth

A study from the Tallahassee-based James Madison Institute reviewed local impact fees and land-use regulations on workforce housing in Florida.
What is preventing the housing supply in Florida from meeting increasingly feverish demand? A conservative think tank argues that government regulatory barriers are a big part of the problem.

A study from the Tallahassee-based  James Madison Institute reviewed local impact fees and land-use regulations on workforce housing in Florida. The study concluded that impact fees can hike the cost of homes for lower-income families and push them out of the market while also placing additional burdens on builders and developers.

"Public policy increases housing costs oftentimes, either intentionally or unintentionally; I'm not here to judge," said Robert McClure, president and CEO of the James Madison Institute. "More stringent building codes will require builders to use different or more materials than they otherwise would use. In other cases, policy makers have a direct impact on housing costs and ultimately prices by levying higher taxes impacting new developments or causing delays in construction by delays. The old adage, 'Time is money,' it's true. That's important to understand."

McClure was in Sarasota on Thursday to address a group of about 115 business people and local politicians at a Meet the Minds Luncheon, arranged by The Argus Foundation and the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. The luncheons are designed to focus on specific issues by bringing in special guests. The topic this time was how local impact fees and land-use regulations impact affordable housing in Florida.

Argus Foundation brought Bowden contract concerns to DeSantis

March letter to state officials complaining about 'golden parachute' deal was later forwarded to School Board

Sarasota's most prominent business organization is not happy with the Sarasota County School Board.

The Argus Foundation complained to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran regarding Superintendent Todd Bowden's contract, according to a copy of a letter dated March 26 that was first made public at Tuesday's School Board workshop.

Click here to read more.

A revision of the vision for downtown Sarasota?

But in a letter to commissioners, Christine Robinson, executive director of the business group Argus, argued against politicizing the planning process. "Requiring community workshops are one thing," she wrote, "but a subjective political process for approval changes the redevelopment landscape of the community. It makes investing in Sarasota risky and uncertain."

Click here to read more.

City Commission declines to change development review

"A subjective political process for approval changes the redevelopment landscape of the community and makes investing in Sarasota risky and uncertain," Argus Foundation Executive Director Christine Robinson said. "If you don't like what's going on, change the code, not the process."

Although staff  presented a proposal that would lower the standards for holding public hearings downtown, a majority of the commission agreed with Robinson's suggestion. Commissioner Hagen Brody rebuked the criticism of administrative review. He said STOP's messaging gave residents an incorrect understanding of the degree to which review procedures influenced new construction.

Click here to read more.

Published opinions from our Executive Director
Robinson: Septic to sewer, a water-quality imperative

When considering capital projects, governments love parks and libraries. You can see them, people enjoy them, they are tangible amenities that increase the quality of life. People come to their ribbon cuttings, with those openings often heralded and found on the front pages of our local newspapers. They have constituencies who form groups to advocate for them, appropriately called "The Friends of (insert name of park or library.)"

To be sure, I am one of those former government officials who loved those projects. They are very important for quality of life.

However, wastewater infrastructure is a health issue, a primary duty of local government. It affects our water, our food, our lungs, our economy, and our quality of life. There is no "Friends of Sewers."

Click here to read more.

JMI Shows Need to Get Serious on Housing

Affordable housing. Workforce housing. Attainable housing. No matter what you call it, everyone agrees we need some and most will say it is at a crisis level.  The problem is, not many understand factors that are causing housing to be so expensive, and then there are those who do understand, but will just deny it because they want to stop growth.

The James Madison Institute recently studied an important aspect of affordable housing and issued a report that will be the focus of a joint luncheon meeting between The Argus Foundation and Gulf Coast Builders Exchange on Thursday, May 16, at the Sarasota Yacht Club called, "Assessing the Effects of Local Impact Fees and Land-use Regulations on Workforce Housing in Florida."

Click here to read more.

Tackling Barriers to Affordable Housing

Impact fees, regulations, delays in construction, regulatory barriers and taxes all contribute to affordable housing problems. Dr. Bob McClure, president and CEO of The James Madison Institute, offered an overview of an important study about how government actions affect workforce housing at a joint meeting this week between Gulf Coast Builders Exchange and The Argus Foundation.

This study examined market forces and how when government intervenes, it can purposefully, or not purposefully, make housing more expensive. Dr. McClure started at the 50,000-foot level and got all of the way down to the non-function of Sarasota County's impact fee calculator and how this is affecting housing prices.

After we acknowledge that we are not building enough to meet demand, we move to regulatory issues. Dr. McClure boiled it down well, a complex approval process that is drawn out, unpredictable, and full of extra costs is essentially another tax passed onto homebuyers. 
He called it the "Time is money" tax. As money is tied up, it loses value and bears interest carrying costs. That just doesn't go away in development, it is calculated into development and passed on to the homebuyer.

Click here to read more.

Robinson: More snowbirds are migrating permanently

The northerners are coming. I know, snowbird season is over, but they are still coming and coming fast.

They are fleeing the high taxes, high regulation, and the uncertain business environment of northern states and coming here in droves. How fast do you ask? Some estimates put it at 1,000 people are coming to Florida every day.

Bloomberg News recently measured the economic impact on states as a result of the movement of people in terms of growth of adjusted gross income. Using IRS and Census data, they looked at 2016 numbers, and the results are not surprising to those of us who live in Florida.
It also puts into perspective that we have good problems and that those who are losing income in this economy are in trouble.

Click here to read more.

Administrative Review Vital to Ensure Certainty

On Monday, the City Commission will be considering a staff proposal for altering, or, eliminating administrative review for projects. 

Administrative review was an important part of The Downtown Master Plan 2020, which received input from hundreds and hundreds of people.  It was adopted in January 2001.The concepts of administrative review were contained in this plan. 

The Plan stated, "Future development is accurately envisioned by the Master Plan that, when coded, creates a predictable environment. Within it, developers who follow the rules can be guaranteed time-certain approvals, while residents can live in a city where surprises are minimized. A public discussion and assessment by elected officials need only occur in the event a variance is required."

Click here to read more.


Sarasota County published a monthly economic report.   Data includes information on the labor force, unemployment, wages, industry, home and condo sales, permitting, hotel and motel sales, SRQ passenger counts, population, and taxable values.
Register now for our events!

Meet the Minds:
Florida Secretary of State 
Laurel Lee

Friday, August 23, 2019
11:30AM - 1:30PM
Michael's On East
1212 S. East Ave, Sarasota

***Sponsorships Available***

Meet the Minds:
Florida Education Commissioner 
Richard Corcoran

Wednesday, September 11, 2019,
11:30AM - 1:30PM
Michael's On East
1212 S. East Ave, Sarasota

***Sponsorships Available***

The Willis Smith Construction 
30th  Annual Stakeholder 
Golf Tournament & Dinner

Monday October 21, 2019,
11:00am Registration
11:30 Lunch
12:30 Tournament Begins

Laurel Oak Golf & Country Club
2700 Gary Player Boulevard

***Sponsorships Available***

2019 New Member/Past President Reception

Presented by Argus Member 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Signature Events & Catering
At The Landings
4870 South Tamiami Trail


2019 Lifetime Achievement Awards
presented by

Honoring Senator John McKay


Eugenie Clark
Posthumous Honoree

Thursday, November 14, 2019
Sarasota Hyatt Regency Ballroom


Sponsorships Available for events!
Contact Sharlene at Sharlene@argusfoundation.org


Venice Middle Young Marines plan 
peaceful Normandy invasion

Since 2011, Venice Middle Young Marines has been teaching the values of discipline, courage and selfless service to its members, middle school students between the ages of 11 and 15 who volunteer to be part of this full-day magnet program, the first of its kind in a public school. Every two years, the Venice Middle Young Marines take a transformative trip to learn about the history of America's veterans and their service and sacrifice for our great country.

In 2019 the Venice Young Marines were asked to help recognize and celebrate the bravery of the World War II servicemen who fought on June 6, 1944, in the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, commonly known as D-Day. The Venice troupe will take 65 Young Marines to lay wreaths at the American Cemetery and march in the June 6 parade in St. Mere Eglise to honor the bravery of the men who helped liberate Europe and the World.

The trip is on the more expensive side and some of the students cannot participate without the financial support from local caring individuals and area businesses. The goal was to raise $100,000. Caldwell Trust Co. wanted to help. Kelly Caldwell and his wife, Melissa, hosted a fundraiser at the Caldwell Trust Co. headquarters in Venice to seek donations. 

Attention Argus Members!!!
Send us your good deeds and community work to feature on our website and newsletters!
Send your stories to christine@argusfoundation.org
Take a look at some of these great pictures from our most recent event!

Click here to see more photos from our Meet the Minds with Senator Rick Scott

Click here to see more photos from our 2019 Low Counttry Boill

Click here to see more photos from our Meet the Minds joint meeting with GCBX featuring The James Madison Institute

Click here to see more photos from our 2019 Sip & Savor
The Argus Foundation | 941-365-4886 |  http://argusfoundation.org