By YVETTE C. HAMMETT
The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce, which serves as proxy for a city hall or visitors’ center, has a new location where it will continue to lift up businesses in the area and serve as a community base.
The chamber recently moved from its location of six years at 10012 Water Works Lane to the Center State Bank Building at the southeast corner of Bloomingdale Avenue and U.S. 301.
“We had outgrown our space, and our staff has grown during that time,” said Debbie Kirkland, membership director for the chamber. With the new suite comes a small conference room, which the chamber did not previously have, and an additional office.
When people come in to the new office, they’ll be greeted by receptionist Sierra Carch and surrounded by historic photos of the Riverview area, said Chamber Executive Director Tanya Doran. “It will be warm and friendly. Think of us as the visitors’ center for Riverview.” The office will be open weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We will continue to serve our community and our members and really, our focus is to provide services within the Riverview area to build an incredible place to live, work and play,” Doran said. “We are building a sense of belonging and creating an environment for success.
“We truly are a connector within our community,” she said. “We work with everyone from Hillsborough County departments to nonprofits, our local schools, our local colleges. We are a wonderful resource to anyone who lives or works in Riverview.”
The chamber connects folks with what their needs are, she said. “Because we don’t have a city hall or local town hall, and the chamber fills that need.”
One program she’s very excited about, she said, is having the county’s Small Business Development Center send a consultant out each week to work with business owners.
“They come out and do consultation and workshops to build better businesses. We make sure the community knows we offer these services to everyone, even if they are not a chamber member,” Doran said.
“One of the topics often discussed during the consultations is budgeting. I am personally passionate about sitting down and reviewing a budget, especially for businesses in a growth state,” Doran said. “It’s having a second opinion on whether it is time to expand, is there a plan of action, when to hire an employee or is it time to sell the business. There are a lot of different layers of consultation available.”
The Small Business Center offers both workshops and one-on-one consultation to provide personal service.
Budgets can be especially tricky for business owners because they are busy focusing on the day-to-day operations of their company and not always taking the time to assess the business Doran said.
“They need to look at what their profit margin is, whether it’s time to increase rates or add another truck.”
The Greater Riverview Chamber currently has 670 members. While the membership is diverse, the majority of members are small businesses with five employees or fewer. “But we do still have a significant number of medium and large businesses,” Doran said.
Communitywide, the chamber is best known for a couple of exceptional fundraisers. One is its annual golf tournament, but it is known for its annual Teaching to Excellence program, which welcomes new teachers at Riverview’s 24 public and charter schools and honors those chosen as teacher of the year.
The chamber also hosts Trick or Treat Street each fall in partnership with Riverview High, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and numerous businesses that participate.