Jobseekers group hears from mayor

Mar. 06, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

Standing in a room full of people looking for work, Sanford Mayor Chet Mann said the city was refocusing on job growth and investing in its economic future.

Pulling from his “Open for Business” agenda, Mann discussed the future of economic development within the city to attendees of the weekly Sanford Jobseekers meeting at the First Baptist Church of Sanford on Wednesday.

“The role of the city would be to promote pro-growth initiatives and to seek quality-of-life improvements that will stimulate growth that will reward current citizens and attract newcomers to the area,” he told a crowd of more than 40 people.

Mann said he intends to hone in on four areas during his tenure as mayor: job creation, making Sanford a destination, instilling community pride and improving the “quality of place.”

“Those four things have to be the focus point for the next four years, maybe eight years moving forward, in order to be successful and create the kind of opportunity and atmosphere we need to attract businesses that will bring more jobs,” he said.

An important aspect of the city’s economic growth is the success of the Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity, which merges the Lee County Economic Development Corporation and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce, Mann said.

“Job creation is a tough thing to do overnight,” he said. “One thing that Sanford and Lee County has not done a great job with in recent years is our economic development effort. So we have spent the better part of a year working on a new economic development organization. This is the organization that will recruit jobs [and] recruit companies to come to Lee County.”

The county didn’t land a single company it recruited last year, Mann said.

Answering questions from attendees, Mann explained the city is not allowed to disclose which businesses are permitted to come to Sanford, but it could help improve its demographics, potentially spurring higher-end retail and restaurant venues to locate within city limits.

Sanford Jobseekers meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at First Baptist, located 202 Summit Drive.