LAKEWOOD RANCH — For the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, the trickiest part of its new ribbon-cutting service is figuring out what business owners want.
Some owners prefer small ceremonies with only employees, while other owners prefer a block party with food and drinks, says Barbara Zdziarski, liaison of member services.
Then, there’s the matter of wielding 2-pound scissors while smiling for multiple pictures — which Zdziarski and Executive Director Heather Kasten joke has helped to beef up their arm muscles.
The Business Alliance kicked off the new year by offering ribbon-cutting ceremonies to its 1,550 individual members and 536 businesses.
So far, alliance staffers have helped members open six businesses. On March 13, the alliance will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening of the Meals on Wheels PLUS adult day center.
Alliance committee members attend the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and help the business owners set up the ribbon and smile beside them as they officially open their business to the community.
After the ribbons are cut, Dan Sidler, alliance communications and marketing manager, sends business owners a certificate to hang as a keepsake of the event.
"Aside from marriage and having kids, opening a business is one of the most important moments in someone’s life. It’s so special to be a part of that.” — Heather Kasten, executive director of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance
The alliance decided to host the ceremonies, which the local chambers of commerce have conducted in the past, based on demand from business owners.
“We kept having members ask if we offered this service, and when they heard we didn’t, they said we should,” Zdziarski said. “They wanted us to be a part of their openings.”
Kasten believes the alliance and the Manatee or Sarasota chambers of commerce will eventually attend the ceremonies together, as two reckoning forces that advocate for local businesses.
But the service is a natural fit for the alliance because of the constant growth of East County and the businesses relocating there, she says.
Ribbon-cutting ceremonies are another way to show appreciation to alliance members and help them forge a route in their communities, Kasten said.
“Ribbon cuttings are monumental moments in the lives of business owners,” Kasten said. “These businesses are what owners put their life savings into. Aside from marriage and having kids, opening a business is one of the most important moments in someone’s life. It’s so special to be a part of that.”
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].