By LINDA CHION KENNEY
With a new home and the emerging and continuing challenges of pandemic times, the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce is poised for the residential boom that promises to change the landscape of local commerce in the years to come.
“The amazing growth is exciting and that builds excitement and high energy,” said East Bay High graduate Tanya Doran, the chamber’s long-term executive director. “We’re very focused to serve those invested in our community and those who live in our community. What we learned in 2020 is that these folks are investing in our organization so that we, in turn, can do good in the community.”
Toward that end, the chamber puts out a weekly email that includes not only a list of upcoming meetings and ribbon-cuttings but also an extensive list of seminars, training classes and deliverables offered by government, for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Many of the offerings in recent times are designed to help businesses establish and grow their bottom lines, while working through the pandemic and its aftermath.
“Expenses are going up, staffing is a challenge and it’s difficult to run a business right now,” Doran said. “Do your best to shop local; that really makes a difference. Every dollar counts right now because some of the challenges we’re hearing are critical.”
Also, “be patient,” Doran said. “Our businesses are doing their best to keep their doors open. Be mindful, be patient and be a part of the solution. If you get really good service, share that. If something doesn’t go well, have a conversation with the manager or the owner and help them do better before blasting it out on social media.”
According to Doran, business owners and managers say it is hard to find workers to fill open positions, and this, at times, affects hours of operations and advertised services.
“Employment is one of the biggest challenges right now, and there are many,” Doran said. “They’re challenged getting folks to apply and to find the staff they need to run their businesses.”
Meanwhile, the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce has a new home, and it’s not the newly opened Riverview replacement library, at 9951 Balm Riverview Road.
When plans to move into that facility fell short, Winthrop co-founders John and Kay Sullivan stepped up with office space available in their planned-use development. And it’s not the first time, Doran said, noting the Sullivans during the Great Recession made space available for the chamber in the Barn Theatre at Winthrop.
“We are very fortunate to be here at Winthrop, and that came about because of the generosity of John and Kay Sullivan,” Doran said. “They have a passion and a heart for this community and certainly appreciate the work that goes on in their local chamber of commerce.”
The chamber previously had been housed in the CenterState Bank building at 10101 Bloomingdale Ave., Riverview. With the expectation that the chamber would be housed in the Riverview replacement library, chamber officials announced plans to vacate CenterState.
A news report in January 2020 reported on the hope of chamber officials that a lease would be forthcoming with library services, the first of its kind in the County. Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White, whose District 4 includes Riverview, supported the measure and said he would be excited to see that happen. Meanwhile, the library delayed its grand opening because of pandemic concerns.
“Regretfully, we weren’t able to come to an agreement with Hillsborough County,” Doran said. “While I’m very sorry we’re not in there, we focus on the good, and we love our friends at library services. They do great work in the community, and we’ll continue to partner with them when we can. That relationship is not going to go away.”
Indeed, the library includes the James B. “Jim” Johnson Community Room, which features two screens with Wi-Fi connected LED projectors and two hard-wired podiums. The room has not yet opened due to pandemic protocols.
A long-time board member and past chamber president, Johnson is the Riverview chamber’s first-ever and only emeritus board member. He retired from Mosaic in 2015 as public affairs coordinator. Among his many accomplishments, Johnson served on the library board as an appointee of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, as honorary mayor of both Gibsonton and Riverview and for 13 years as chief of the Riverview Volunteer Fire Department.
“In my personal opinion, it’s a perfect fit and a deserved honor to name the community room for Jim,” Doran said. “He has dedicated quite a bit of his time and passion for the library, and he has been a long-time advocate for the Riverview community. We are awaiting the day that the space is available and open for us to use.”
A 10:15 a.m. ribbon-cutting and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. open house to celebrate the chamber’s new home at Winthrop are scheduled for Friday, May 14, at 6152 Delancey Station St., Suite 205. Admission is free and RSVP’s are appreciated. Contact: Gabby Morford, GRCC events manager, at 812-34-5944.
Winthrop is bordered by Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence and Watson roads. Chamber offices are in the orange building, adjacent to the stately Times Building and behind the Railroad Industrial & Federal Credit Union.
Visit www.RiverviewChamber.com for information.