LAKEWOOD RANCH — Marc Simms may not have known anyone when he moved to Florida in 2003, but the businessman was certain he wanted to become a resource to other professionals in the area.
“I really wanted to become that connector here and that resource,” Simms said.
More than six years later, with 1,200 contacts in his Blackberry, it’s safe to assume he’s on his way to fulfilling that vision.
And as the 2010 chairman of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, Simms hopes to become even more of a resource. He and his fellow board members are working to expand the Alliance’s reach by attracting new members, taking a stand on legislative issues and becoming even more of a resource for the area’s businesses.
“It’s such a great group of people,” Simms said of the alliance. “I’ve never been more proud (to be part of an organization).”
Simms joined a products distribution company in 2003 and moved to Florida. He brought the company’s annual revenues from $650,000 to more than $3 million in about two years.
“I was bored,” said Simms, an employee performance specialist. “I missed what I was doing before.”
When a client solicited Simms’ expertise in resolving an employee issue, Simms’ passion for his former work was reignited. After attending a joint meeting of the Manatee, Sarasota and Venice chambers of commerce, Simms was determined finally to launch his own business.
The Lakewood Ranch group became his home and an integral part of his success, he said.
“I really liked the energy and the entrepreneurialism I found there,” Simms said. “I didn’t find that in any other (groups) I belonged to.”
Simms dived into the organization, joining every committee he could as a way to meet other professionals and create business network for the business he’d just started, RPM Business Advisors.
Heading in to 2010, Simms said he wants to see more alliance members get involved in committees.
“It’s a great networking opportunity beyond the events,” Simms said. “You really accelerate your network by joining a committee and getting involved.”
Additionally, he and his board are committed to delineating long-term goals for the organization so initiatives put in place this year will not be lost when a new board is elected. Board members met Feb. 5 for a strategy meeting and now are detailing those goals. Simms said it was too early to give specifics but indicated initiatives would be ready to announce in the coming months.
One of this year’s primary objectives will be educating the organization’s membership about Amendment 4, also called Hometown Democracy. If approved, the state initiative would require a public vote on every land-use item brought before local government, whether zoning changes or plans for development.
The group is working with the Coalition of Business Associations and local chambers of commerce to educate business owners about the amendment and its potential impact, Simms said.
“It really is an anti-growth amendment,” Simms said. “That is heavily on our radar. I don’t know how this area could function with something like that.”
Simms also said he wants the alliance to continue working on attracting businesses to Lakewood Ranch, and to see the Alliance become the preeminent membership organization in the Sarasota-Manatee area.
“We are doing everything we can to make (new members) feel welcome,” Simms said.
With alliance members Diane Kopczynski and Joseph Brannon, Simms launched the organization’s monthly executive briefings, which are educational seminars intended to help business owners improve the profitability of their business, about two years ago. He said he would like to increase participation at briefings and other Alliance events, as well.
For information about the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, visit www.lwrba.org or call 757-1664.
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.
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Coats for kids
Knights of Columbus Councils are helping children in need by providing coats to children in their communities through the order’s Coats for Kids program.
Santa and his elf made a surprise stop Dec. 13, at WineStyles, in San Marco Plaza, by Harley-Davidson motorcycle, during the store’s weekly Friday night wine-tasting event.
Members and guests of the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club ventured Dec. 4 to Orlando, to view holiday decorations at the Grand Floridian and to have lunch at Downtown Disney.