Selby Botanical Gardens named Sarasota's top small business

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Jennifer Rominiecki joined the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens as CEO just four years ago. Now, she’s heading the best small business in Sarasota.

“We are just overwhelmed and thrilled,” Rominiecki said. “It underscores the importance of nonprofit organizations to operate as businesses to be sustainable for the future.”

The gardens won Small Business of the Year from the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce as well as best hospitality and tourism organization. Rominiecki thanked the community for its “outpouring of support” for the gardens.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens sees about 130,000 attendees annually. It hosts a rare collection of tropical plants and also organizes and funds scientific research in botany.

When Rominiecki started in 2015, Selby decided to reposition itself as a “living museum” rather than just a botanical garden. The business has seen significant growth in the past few years as a result of this shift in its business model.

“I think the transformation of our business model to be a living garden was what set us apart for this award,” Rominiecki said during the awards ceremony.

Alongside the top honor, the chamber recognized five local small businesses at the Hyatt Regency on June 14 as the best small business in their category.

Nominees completed a written application, from which three finalists were selected in each category. From there, finalists were invited for an interview with the judges, where an introductory video presented at the award show was produced.

Judges were selected from the community, including past winners and peer businesses. The event was presented by comedian and past winner Les McCurdy.

The winners, in each category:

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Hospitality and Tourism.

Forty Carrots Family Center, Nonprofit.

Music Compound, Products and Services.

Cumberland Advisors, Professional Services.

Unlimited Comfort Mattresses, Retail Business.

This is the 29th edition of the annual Frank G. Berlin Small Business Awards. Finalists were announced May 10. This year’s show omitted the Health Care and Wellness category, which had been a category for the past four years.

Forty Carrots Family Center, which won in the nonprofit category, has operated a family center in Sarasota since 1993. It provides parenting education, mental health services and preschool for children.

Products and Services winner Music Compound, which was founded in 2016 by owner Jenny Townsend. It provides music classes to students of all ages at its Fruitville location.

Cumberland Advisors, winner in the Professional Services category, is an investment firm handling about $3 billion in client assets. It was founded in 1973 and focuses on hiring local talent in the finance industry.

Gabriel Hament, representative for Cumberland, said that the business has doubled its assets under management in the past five years.

Unlimited Comfort Mattresses won in the Retail Business category. It operates both a showroom and mattress factory in Sarasota. Every mattress they sell is made in their factory.

 

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