By LOIS KINDLE
The Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce had a big announcement Oct. 6, when it held its first in-person luncheon since March at the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin. About 50 members were first to hear that the not-for-profit business organization had changed its name to the South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce.
“Last January, when the board met at our annual strategic planning meeting to review what we were already doing for our members and also to discuss what we should be doing, we realized some changes were needed,” said Lynne Conlan, the chamber’s executive director. “It occurred to us at that time our footprint is much larger than Sun City Center, and it was decided we needed to rebrand. A recent member survey confirmed that decision.
“As a growing business organization, our name was limiting and hurting us,” she continued. “We don’t simply represent the residents and businesses here in Sun City Center; we have members from all over the southern part of the county and beyond.”
The chamber’s membership actually includes more businesses from outside Sun City Center than inside it, said Debbie Bates, the chamber’s current board president. Those numbers are 222 and 161, respectively.
“Considering all the growth going on in this part of the county and as we attract more businesses to be part of our chamber, it’s important we fully represent our membership,” she said. “As business owners, we no longer only represent Sun City Center. Our customer base goes well beyond the community.”
News about the South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce and its new website was shared via Facebook Live during the luncheon and will also be sent in an email to all members.
A major development is the chamber’s new website: www.southhillsboroughchamberofcommerce.com.
“It’s wonderful,” Conlan said. “A new team of designers has made it much more visually appealing and user- and member-friendly. We’re very excited about the changes.”
The South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce will continue to use the branding message, “Ask the Chamber!”
Although its leadership aims to continue supporting the Sun City Center community as it has for decades, it will also continue to support its member businesses throughout the region.
“We’ll be connecting online to Next Door and neighborhood Word of Mouth groups, where so many requests for referrals are made,” said Jeanne Burkeson, the chamber’s immediate past president. “We want to consistently give the same message wherever we can.”
On Oct. 21, everyone is invited to participate in Dine ‘n Dash, a drive-through BBQ event hosted by the chamber from 4 to 6 p.m., Oct. 21 in the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center parking lot. Reservations for a BubbaQue’s box dinner of chicken, baked beans, coleslaw and a roll are due by 4 p.m. Oct. 13. The cost is $11 per meal.
“We are offering free delivery to any business ordering four dinners or more,” Conlan said. “All proceeds will go toward helping some of our local business members with their annual dues.”
To RSVP for your box dinner or for more information on the event, call 813-634-5111.
The South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce is at 1651 Sun City Center Plaza, Sun City Center.