Bradenton, Florida

Bradenton, Florida, a small agricultural town of 7,500, heard of the Richmond plan. But Bradenton is building a reputation for never stopping with just one new idea.

In the first place, this small town has a system for swinging all its community energies behind a good idea almost at the drop of a hat. Vehicle for such speedy action is the Presidents’ Round Table, which is a community group composed of the heads of the 16 different clubs and organizations which operate in Bradenton-such as Rotary, women’s clubs, veterans’ organizations, and others.

The council meets regularly to consider town problems, community campaigns, war bond drives, and the like, and to hear about such new ideas as Richmond’s Business Clinic. As soon as this idea was reported to the council, the 16 presidents hotfooted it back to their own groups, as is their custom, to report.

Bradentonians who are members of the various organizations allowed as how here was a first-rate community approach to veterans’ problems. Result: They have taken up where Richmond left off, added some new ideas of their own, and now have a Veterans’ Service Placement Committee which is so completely equipped to serve veterans that it has been designated as an “official” body for that purpose by the War Manpower Commission.

But helping servicemen get reestablished is only a means to an end. Bradenton has made other postwar plans too. To begin with, its planning committee has made a very careful survey of how many new jobs are being planned by the town’s business people and farmers. Also, they’ve made a door-by-door check of what everybody is planning to build or buy that will create local employment. They claim they know even how many new alarm clocks are in the offing.

But in one sense Bradenton’s future is up in the air—even though the reason for this is good down-to-earth planning. Local prosperity revolves around Bradenton’s crops of citrus fruit and winter vegetables, and much depends on how fast such products can get to market.

Having watched the Army Air Forces freighting jeeps and other heavy cargo in and out of nearby Sarasota-Bradenton Air Base during the war, the local folks have decided those jeeps could just as well be cases of tomatoes, oranges, or strawberries. Accordingly, Bradenton has joined forces with Manatee City and two local counties in arrangements to buy the airfield after the war. They have also concluded plans with commercial air lines to ship their farm products to market by air after the war.

From EM 33: What Will Your Town Be Like? (1945)