SARASOTA — Over the next three years, Sarasota County will commit $100,000 per year to a firm to provide job training to county residents.

During their April 10 meeting, county commissioners unanimously approved a grant request from CareerEdge Funders Collaborative for $300,000 and instructed County Administrator to include the funding in the 2020 budget.

The funding will be spread over three years at the request of the firm.

In a document provided to the county explaining the request, CareerEdge wrote that the funding would be used to help employers “…accelerate job creation, as well as employee promotion and pay raises.”

That same document also noted that CareerEdge has created 1,369 jobs over the past seven years.

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce webpage identifies CareerEdge as its “workforce development entity.”

Commissioner Mike Moran, who has consistently criticized the efforts of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County and voted against incentives for companies requesting them, had only praise for CareerEdge.

“I couldn’t give you higher praise,” he said, regarding the firm as bringing the type of long-term careers and jobs with good salaries that he has demanded since his election to the commission two years ago.

Before commissioners voted, several speakers provided testimonials or plaudits for the good work being done by CareerEdge.

Jennifer Schmidt, the owner of Atlantic Mold and Machining Corp in Venice and past president of the Sarasota-Manatee Manufacturers Association said that CareerEdge was “one of the best and most effective workforce development organizations.”

Added Debbie LaPinska, senior vice president of human resources at PGI Innovations, “CareerEdge’s help has been incredibly important to our growth.”

Even former County Commissioner Christine Robinson, now executive director of the Argus Foundation in Sarasota, spoke to commissioners in favor of the grant proposal.

“There is no bigger economic development need than workforce training today,” Robinson said, echoing Moran’s words over the past two years.

“We have a known quantity that can deliver results in CareerEdge,” Robinson added.

Following the vote by commissioners, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis told them that budget staff would incorporate the funding for CareerEdge into the next budget.

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