By LINDA CHION KENNEY
The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce has become a force to be reckoned with by “doing the little stuff right,” according to Tanya Doran, the group’s executive director.
With about 700 members, the chamber has been on an upward trend since 2014, “listening to our members, listening to our community and continuing to march forward,” Doran added.
The group meets the fourth Thursday of the month at The Regent in Riverview for a membership luncheon that for some time now has been drawing large crowds.
“Dedicated [chamber] ambassadors are the backbone of our chamber” they aid the organization’s growth, Doran said. “That, and great community leaders. We have a very strong, dedicated board of directors. They’re engaged, and they get financial reports every single month. They get statistics, the good, bad and the ugly, and they’re very much a part of the action plan for the continued success of the chamber.”
Leading the board as president, president-elect, and past president, respectively, are Michelle Mosher, of Southshore Insurance Professionals; Mike Jones, of World’s Finest Chocolates; and Elijah Heath, of Health, Wealth Management, LLC. Also on the board are Jill Andrew (Tessera of Brandon), Christian Beiter (Preservation 1st Financial Group), Dan Bender (South Bay Hospital), George Colon (Grantham University), Nikki Foster (Mosaic Company), Wendy Heath (E&L Construction Group), Jim Johnson (board emeritus), Rinki Parwani (Parwani Law, P.A.), James Pulkowlski (James Pulkowlski C.P.A., P.A.), Janet Noah (Bridges Retirement Community), Marijean Reith (Team Reith-RE/MAX Realty Unlimited) and Jerry Rothstein (Keep I.T. Simple Computer Services). Rounding out the board are Doran and Bill Andrew, as 2019 Honorary Mayor of Riverview.
The race for 2020 honorary mayor kicks off Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Forge Irish Pub, at 109 West Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon, where the candidates are set to announce their charity events.
“We have some very unique events coming up,” Doran said. “I love the creativity behind it. Our candidates make it fun. That’s the cool thing about it; it makes the chamber step out of its box to do events it might not otherwise do.”
The candidate who raises the most money for his or her selected charities is declared the new mayor. The remaining candidates serve as deputy mayor, with a presence as well at chamber events and ribbon-cuttings.
A portion of race proceeds benefits the chamber as well, which is driven by its mission statement to “create a family environment that ensures the success of our community and our members.”
Founded in 1966, the chamber has offices on the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 301 and Bloomingdale Avenue, inside the CenterState Bank building.
There, Doran said she sees the chamber’s advocacy role growing stronger “as we continue to be the foundation of an ever-growing community.”
Having a united voice in civic matters, “when we’re talking to elected officials, looking for community improvements, that’s where the chamber of commerce in your community is important,” she added. “We’re so much stronger together than we are individually.”
Doran is a firm believer the chamber has an important role in today’s society, despite the growing influence of social media connections and other business-minded groups.
“There’s hundreds of networking groups out there that do it better than a chamber ever could,” she said. “We’re more than networking, we’re more than marketing. We’re about relationships within the community, who you do business with that provides the quality services and products you’re looking for, business to business and business to community.”
In a nutshell, “We’re not your grandfather’s chamber of commerce,” Doran added. “We’re flexible, we’re growing, we’re adapting and we’re becoming what the community needs.”
Doran said she is aware of her chamber’s reputation as “friendly and fun.”
“It becomes even more important to take a moment and listen,” she added. “To listen to our community and to what our businesses and members need.”
The chamber meets at The Regent, for monthly membership meetings, and at The Alley at South Shore, for its weekly Taking Care of Business networking group, open to all members for an annual fee or as part of a membership-level benefit.
Membership packages range from $250 (Basic) to $5,000 (Trustee) and include the $359 Enhanced package, which includes a ribbon-cutting and a choice of two add-ons: four luncheon tickets, TCOB annual membership or a newsletter insert. Also available, Elite membership ($645), Non-Profit membership ($99), and Community Membership ($49).
Doran runs her office with a four-member staff: Debbie Kirkland (membership director), Sierra Carch (administrative professional), Megan Medina (administrative support) and Ciara “CiCi” Taveras (event coordinator).
As for what’s coming next for the chamber, stay tuned; there are major announcements coming, Doran said. “At least two, looking into 2020 and beyond,” she added. “The future is bright for us.”
For more, visit RiverviewChamber.com or call 813-234-5944.