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mission is to connect innovative compa- nies and researchers with the county's elderly population. One third-year stipulation in the nonprofit's deal with the county called for the Institute to show it has hired eight full-time employ- ees "with an average annual wage of not less than the then-Current Metropolitan Statistical Average for this area," calculated to be slightly more than $37,000. But the Institute hasn't met those hiring goals. It now employs just four full-timers. However, the Institute argued in a request to the county this month, it has worked with part-time and contract workers at a level commensurate with its eight-employee goal. According to a spreadsheet laying out all its workers' hours and wages, the Institute has hired four part-time employees and has com- missioned work from eight contractors, some of them not local — e.g., the New York PR firm DJC Communications. "With respect to the local versus non-local hiring, these non-local roles are all involved in media to help raise the national profile and exposure for the Institute, which is a clear mandate of the Incentive contract," Institute CEO Tom Esselman wrote in an April letter to the county. "We're a startup," Esselman tells The Sarasota News Leader. "It's a brand new entity and we're trying to do something very unique." He says the eight-employee stipu- lation, which was hammered out before he was hired, was intended primarily to make the Institute demonstrate that it is a "grow- ing organization." But rather than just hire eight employees to meet an arbitrary goal, Esselman says the Institute leadership has thought carefully about how best to spend the resources it has been given. "We look at this as a great oppor- tunity to show that we're better stewards of the county's money," he adds. "Instead of just forcing ourselves to hire eight full-time peo- ple, we can be more flexible and nimble and tap into more specialized talent." Esselman, a former Hallmark executive, says the approach is common these days. "I fol- low national trends like crazy and the most important trend in terms of startups has been this workforce trend of hiring more and more part-time people," he adds. "When you're a startup, it helps you become a lot cleaner and meaner." % Search for text in stories by clicking the icon in the menubar and entering a search term. Search the current edition or all editions. QUICK TIP Search Only The Issue You Are Viewing Search All Issues Your search term here Sarasota News Leader April 25, 2014 Page 47

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