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During crisis, economic development head says it's important to understand what one can and cannot control

Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, expresses daily gratitude for the gifts she's been given.

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  • | 12:00 p.m. May 6, 2020
  • Leadership
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Organization: Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. 

Executive: Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO

Current work situation: I am working at the EDC’s office in Lakewood Ranch. However, most of the EDC team is working remotely.

Biggest challenge with the current work setup: The EDC team has navigated the change in our working environment very well. No significant challenges come to mind except for screen fatigue from many Zoom meetings.

Most important lesson you've learned so far during this time: I don’t have one new lesson. I certainly have a few lessons that have been reinforced: clearly understand what you can and cannot control, remember to do your best to respond vs. react and express daily gratitude for the gifts you have been given.

Books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks you have focused on during this time: Because of the deluge of COVID-19 information I receive on a regular basis at work, I really try to unplug from all of it when I am at home. I am currently reading “Olive Kitteridge,” a lovely novel by Elizabeth Strout. I confess to have binge watched “Ozark” and “The Crown.” I am currently watching and thoroughly enjoying “The Last Dance,” a documentary series about the Chicago Bulls.

How far out into the future are you looking? As we navigate through this unprecedented time my mantra has been “one day at a time,” as every day brings something new to address. However, from a planning perspective I am looking out at least 12 to 18 months as it relates to our budget and future activities we implement to support and assist the local business community.

How do you maintain your spirit/morale when everything has changed? Humor has always been an essential component that allows me to maintain a positive attitude. Laughter is an excellent stress reliever! I also do my best to stay connected with and rely upon a small group of trusted and treasured friends and colleagues.

Exercise or stress relief have you been turning to during the crisis: I am very fortunate to live on Warner’s West Bayou in Northwest Bradenton. Upon arrival home from the office, I head outside, find a comfortable spot on my deck, savor a glass of wine and allow my stress or worries to drift away, as the water on the bayou moves with the breeze. Also, for many years, running/jogging has been a go-to stress reliever activity for me.  

Last trip to out of the house: To my office in Lakewood Ranch.

What's your favorite meal to eat at home: I don’t have a favorite meal but I do love any and all roasted vegetables. My guilty pleasure is chips and salsa…and lots of it!


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