Around The Ranch Article
By Ernie Soller - April 18th, 2012
There has been a whole lot of rhetoric heard around our country lately about "Wall Street vs. Main Street." Many pundits have commented on the idea that those who are in positions of power, both in government and the world of high Finance, just aren't listening to the voice of the folks who call "Main Street" home.
Well, a new figure has appeared on the political stage of` Manatee County, an individual whose successful business was the very first to open up on Lakewood Ranch's Main Street, back in 2005. Her name is Vanessa Baugh, she's a Lakewood Ranch resident and merchant, and she is an example of a woman who's had the experience of living her dream.
A young woman working as a legal secretary in Virginia, Baugh one day walked into a Gordon Jewelers store on her lunch hour. A conversation with the store manager resulted in a part-time job at the store, and six months later, she was managing a Gordon's store herself. Vanessa and husband Don Baugh came to Florida on their honeymoon, and she fell in love with the Manatee/Sarasota area.
Soon they moved here and Vanessa opened up her own jewelry business, a kiosk in the Sarasota Square Mall Her hard work paid off two years later, she moved into a store in the west, to the border of Hardee and DeSoto counties on the east, and from State Road 64 on the north to Sarasota County on the south. As Baugh notes, this portion of Manatee County is where the largest growth is happening right now, and where it will continue to happen in the near future.
Lakewood Ranch, and the area to the north and east of Lakewood Ranch, look to be the epicenter of future growth. As to what will power the growth, and how the county can assist in managing that growth, Baugh feels that several things need to happen. First of all she believes that Manatee County must make sure that it is doing whatever it can to help grow businesses in the county, and that a support system for new and prospective businesses is necessary, both in Manatee County as well as the rest of our state. Residential and commercial development, for certain, will be a key part of our new growth, and the county should be a cooperative partner in this officials, instead of the elected officials simply charting their own course, without the input from citizens.
Baugh feels very strongly about economic development. She also sees a need to promote a more diverse economy in Manatee County, recruiting a variety of businesses, while working to keep the enterprises that are already here, thereby lessening the impact of a slowdown in one or two sectors of the area's commerce.
She also states a need for fiscal responsibility on the part of the County. Baugh notes that federal or state grants of funds are great to have, but points out that the County must match them in order to qualify for the funding, making for large outlays of money - money which may not be available. "We have to run the county as a business," she said. "We have to be able to raise revenue without tax increases." Baugh points out that increasing the scope and activity at Port Manatee would be a good way of doing just that.
front in the Southgate Mall. From there, she moved her expanding business, Vanessa Fine Jewelry, to Lakewood Ranch's Main Street. Now, after several years of intensive involvement in the community, participating in such organizations as the Sheriff's Advisory Board, The Lakewood Ranch Community Fund, Manatee Chamber of Commerce, and the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance - among others
Baugh, a Republican, made the decision to offer herself as a candidate for the District 5 seat on the Manatee County Commission District 5 is, geographically the largest of the districts within Manatee County. It covers the area roughly from the Bradenton city limits on effort but new opportunities for different businesses will be needed, and the County needs to promote the establishment of such opportunities, while at the same time striving to preserve the rural flavor of communities such as Myakka.
For Baugh, communication with residents and business people is key to the proper functioning of our county government. She sees the need for county commissioners to get feedback from those whom they represent, to learn just what people feel that their needs are, in order to assist in producing a better quality of life. She likes the idea of more "town hall" meetings, giving folks a chance to have their concerns heard by their elected Baugh has operated a successful business.
She has had the experience of both hiring employees and letting them go. She's made payroll, and has done this for enough years that she knows quite well how to run a business. She feels that her experience in the business world and in our community will enable her to be successful as a county commissioner. And she's willing to listen to the concerns of residents and business people alike. Baugh is willing to devote herself full-time to work for the success of Manatee County. And while she is doing that, Don Baugh will be minding that jewelry store on Main Street.