Florida Association of Chamber Professionals Certifies Local Chamber of Commerce

Certified Plus Chambers

The Florida Association of Chamber Professionals (FACP) recognized Florida’s top chambers of commerce throughout the state for their outstanding achievement and dedication to the industry. The awards were presented at the organization’s Annual Conference, held September 18-20, 2018, at the beautiful Sundial Beach Resort & Spa on Sanibel Island.

Among the recognition given were the Certified Plus Designations. In, 2003, FACP implemented the distinction of Florida Certified Chamber to recognize standards of professional excellence in Florida. In 2012, the association enhanced its certification program to include a Certified Plus designation, for chambers of commerce that score an 86 or above during the judging process or are an Accredited Chamber through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both the Certified and Certified Plus designations recognize chambers that have met high standards and strengthened free enterprise by protecting the business environment.

This year, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and the West Orange Chamber of Commerce received the Certified Plus Chamber status. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is also an Accredited Chamber of Commerce through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s inductees join an elite list of Certified and Certified Plus Chambers in Florida, representing the pinnacle standards of excellence in Organization Management, Service Intent and Capacity, Professional Administration, Financial Management, and Marketing/Public Relations. For a complete list, please visit www.facponline.com and search under the Member Directory tab.

“The Florida Association of Chamber Professionals congratulates the recipients of this prestigious distinction,” said Tammy C. Bracewell, President of FACP.  “We are proud of each Chamber’s dedication and commitment to excellence within the business community.  The Certified Chamber of Commerce program sets standards within the industry and recognizes chambers that have met those standards while offering guidelines for those to improve their effectiveness.  In many ways, it is like the good housekeeping seal of approval for a chamber of commerce.”

The Certified Chamber of Commerce program is designed to promote the public awareness of the intent of the Chamber of Commerce brand as a not for profit community development based business membership organization.

FACP is a statewide organization whose mission is “Advancing excellence in chamber management” and whose vision is “Enhancing Florida’s business communities by cultivating successful chamber professionals.”

2018 GTCC Annual Leadership Retreat

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce hosted the Annual Leadership Retreat at Top Golf in Tampa on Thursday, August 16th for Board and Fit 4 members to get an update on the Chamber. Members heard from guest speaker Tony Carvajal, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, on the future of Florida. Chamber leadership provided a Vision 2026 update and table breakouts discussed the pillars and ways to continue meeting the goals of the vision plan. The Minority Business Accelerator program participants had a panel discussion updating leadership on their progress in the program and the successes they have seen. Christina Barker and Brian Willis from the All for Transportation organization talked about their efforts to find a way forward for transportation in Tampa Bay. The event wrapped up with a round of golf for the attendees to let their hair down after a busy day of meetings.


After 5 at Bristol-Myers Squibb

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay recently hosted a joint After 5 networking event at Bristol-Myers Squibb.  The exclusive After 5 events hosted bi-monthly are usually by invite only for our top tier members.  However, the Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay members who work at Bristol-Myers Squibb saw this as an opportunity for up-and-coming leaders and established business professionals to network and make new contacts, which is exactly what happened.  The After 5 event brought together over 200 people from the Tampa business community, and both the Chamber and Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay members walked away with new perspectives and connections.


Chamber members visit Washington D.C.

Last week, members of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with senior leadership from the Department of Transportation, the White House, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as members of the Florida Congressional delegation. Members were able to discuss legislative priorities that are important to the Tampa Bay business community including transportation, workforce development, business & economic development, military & defense, and healthcare.

Black History Month Celebrations in Tampa Bay

Black History Moth Diversity

Black History Month is a time for our nation to recognize the struggles and significant contributions made to our nation’s life and culture by Black citizens.

To celebrate Black History Month:


Tampa Bay recognized as a Great American Defense Community

Tampa Bay has been selected as one of five cities nationwide to receive the 2018 Great American Defense Community designation. On February 15th, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce will host the 20th Annual Military Appreciation Awards at Raymond James Stadium, where the Association of Defense Communities will exclusively announce Tampa Bay’s reception of this prestigious award.

“We are so appreciative of the support we receive from the Tampa Bay community,” said Colonel April D. Vogel, 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander.  “When military members move here, they’re not just moving to a city, they’re moving to a place they feel comfortable calling “home.” This community provides remarkable support to our Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines and their families and I’m excited this community is being recognized!”

In a joint effort, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance nominated Tampa Bay for the program based on community initiatives that create a high quality of life for military families. The Chamber thanks Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio, and Representative Kathy Castor for their letters of support to recognize Tampa as a Great American Defense Community.

“We are grateful that Tampa Bay has been recognized as a community that embraces and supports our military, veterans, and their families” said Lisa Monnet, President of the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance.

Selected communities are recognized nationally for their exceptional commitment to improve the lives of service members, veterans and their families as a model for all communities. Tampa Bay’s application included community initiatives like the Chamber’s Operation Partnership program, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Salute to Service initiatives, and Tinker Elementary School.

“We are excited that Tampa Bay is being recognized as a model military community” said president and CEO Bob Rohrlack. “This award is a reflection of our community’s ongoing dedication to our military, veterans and their families.”

Great American Defense Communities
 The Great American Defense Communities program was designed by the Association of Defense Communities in conjunction with the House and Senate Defense Communities Caucuses to recognize and celebrate communities whose exceptional commitment to improve the lives of service members, veterans and their families as a model for all communities.

Chamber installs new leadership at 131st Annual Meeting

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce held its 131st Annual Meeting today at the Tampa Convention Center. A sold-out crowd of 1050 attendees came together to celebrate the Chamber’s 2016 achievements. 2016 Chamber Chair Guy King III of M.E. Wilson Co., Inc. passed the gavel to 2017 Chair Mike Griffin of Savills Studley Occupier Services. The Chamber also received greetings from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Stacy White. The Chamber collected toys at the event, teaming with Metropolitan Ministries to help bring gifts to the Holiday Tent, which serves more than 19,000 children in the Bay area.

Griffin unveiled the Chamber’s 10-year vision plan, which is comprised of three pillars – Catalyst, Inclusive Organization and HUB for Business, all supported by a foundation of Organizational Excellence. To review the entire 10-year vision plan, please click here.

Griffin also introduced the Chamber’s 2017 Executive Committee Members, including:

Chair Mike Griffin Savills Studley Occupier Services
Chair-Elect Steven Bernstein, Esq. Fisher Phillips
Treasurer Jamie Harden Creative Sign Designs
Finance Yvette Segura USAA
At Large Hugh Campbell

Bruce Faulmann


Tampa Bay Times

  Steve Griggs
Marilyn Mullen Healy, Esq.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Adams and Reese LLP
  Derek Holmes

Lauren Key

Tec-Link, LLC

Florida Hospital

  Andy Mayts, Esq.

Christopher Rogers


Sykes Enterprises Incorporated

Legal Counsel Kareem Spratling, Esq. Bryant Miller Olive P.A.

The Chamber also presented the 2016 H.L. Culbreath Jr. Profile in Leadership Award to Chuck Sykes, president and CEO of Sykes Enterprises Incorporated. The award, established in 1997 by Leadership Tampa Alumni, a committee of the Chamber, is presented annually in recognition of an individual whose leadership has made a positive impact within the greater Tampa community.

Chuck Sykes has spent his career working his way through the ranks of his business and industry – beginning in low-level administrative roles and eventually becoming president & CEO of a publicly-traded global company. Words used to describe this individual include consistent, loyal, dependable, caring, trustworthy, and diplomatic. In his own words, he often talks of being a mentor, teacher, and collaborator. Above all else, he is genuine. He is consistent in his values and beliefs, leading always to the greater good. Our recipient is extensively and passionately involved in the Tampa Bay community. His past leadership roles include chairing the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce at a pivotal time in our evolution as well as service on countless boards for nonprofits in our area.

In addition, the Chamber announced its 2017 class of Startup Scholars, which include Simo Juice, The Blind Tiger Café, Wedding Wiz, WeGo Kids, and Wingu Technology. The guest speakers for the first two signature events of 2017 were also revealed. The Military Appreciation Awards on February 22nd will feature General Ann Dunwoody, the first woman in U.S. Military history to achieve the rank of 4-star general. General Dunwoody retired in 2012 after 37 years of service to our country. The guest speaker for the Women of Influence Luncheon on April 13th is Debbie Sterling, founder of GoldieBlox. In 2014, Fast Company named GoldieBlox to its list of Most Innovative Companies and in 2015, GoldieBlox won Parents Magazine’s Toy of the Year and Debbie was inducted by President Obama as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship.

Chamber Transportation Survey Results

By: Michael Maurino, Government Relations Coordinator, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce completed a survey of more than 2,500 people on transportation issues, and found that respondents seek an improved transportation system with more services and better technologies.

275 westshore construction 2More than 92-percent of respondents said they drove their car alone as their primary mode of transportation. But, 65-percent of respondents said they would take advantage of improved transit at their home or work, and 75-percent thought that traffic congestion was a significant factor for them. The majority of respondents said it took them more than 30 minutes to get to work or school.

Respondents chose synchronized traffic signals, additional lanes on interstates and expressways, and new transit services like express bus, ferry, and rail as the top-three changes to the transportation system that would most benefit them. New transit services were selected most often by respondents as their top transportation improvement.

The results of this survey are similar to the results of a survey of Chamber member executives, who selected the same top-three transportation improvements, thought that congestion was a significant factor, and that employees would use improved transit.

Nearly 99% of respondents indicated that they lived, worked, or were going to school in Hillsborough County. The Chamber’s survey was distributed by member companies, through social media, and traditional media outlets. The survey was available Sept. 4 – Oct. 31.

Building Better Professional Relationships

Tracy Wilson, Director, Membership

You are challenged to build better professional relationships, but how? Be selective. Be selective of which networking events you participate in, be selective of who you interact with and be selective of your topics of discussion. Be strategic without alienating. How you ask? By being selective.


Business After Hours

Understand who will be attending the various events you sign up to attend. Who can you anticipate meeting at this function?  What would be deemed of value that you could share with them in 60 seconds or less? And it doesn’t have to be about your business. By giving some thought to these items prior to the event, you will be more strategic in your networking efforts. Plus, you will be perceived as a more valuable contact for those that you interact with.

Network with a purpose — the purpose of building a better community, perhaps providing a better business environment and most definitely building your own business. What business person do you know that would not relate to at least one of these areas and perhaps even claim them as one of their own? Once you have identified a common cord, then you are ready to team up. But be warned, don’t be creepy!

One essential ingredient to building a professional network is to be the kind of person other successful people want to be around. Build a valuable network, not necessarily a colossal one.  Pay attention to what this select group has to say, what they care about and what they are interested in. Learn to listen and ask questions while being sincere. To get tips on how to do all of this more successfully, I invite you to Return on Relationships on October 9.

At Return on Relationships, you will explore ways to maximize your time and efforts to become more successful at Chamber networking events. Led by Clint Babcock of Sandler Training, Clint will help you understand how to position yourself and your business to improve your professional relationships. Click here to learn more.

After 5 Networking Event

After 5 Networking Event

At the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, we like bringing smart, successful business people together. It is fun and it’s interesting, and we all learn from the connections that are ignited. Don’t get me wrong, building relationships isn’t always easy. Building better business relationships takes hard work and patience. What about you? Have you ever made a business connection that changed the way you view business? Tell us about it by replying below. See you soon!

Chamber Names Winners of the 2014 Small Business of the Year Awards

Tampa, Fla. – The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the 2014 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony on Friday, September 19, at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.  More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay’s small business community and toasted the evening’s big winners.

This year’s event was presented by Bay Cities Bank & Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors and represents the 34th year the Chamber has recognized this key segment of the region’s economy.  Small business awards were presented in three categories based on the number of employees and a fourth business category honoring a startup company.  Companies are evaluated on financial success, community involvement and ethical business practices. An award was also presented to the Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year.

The 2014 Small Business of the Year Award winners are:

Madelyn Butler

Dr. Madelyn Butler

Outstanding Leader: Dr. Madelyn Butler, The Woman’s Group

Dr. Madelyn Butler founded The Woman’s Group in 1998 with a vision of a practice dedicated to high-quality obstetrical and gynecological care and education for women of all ages. She started the company with just six employees. Today The Woman’s Group boasts a staff of nearly 100 with four office locations and serves three Greater Tampa area hospitals. Dr. Butler’s commitment to health and education led her on a mission trip to Haiti where she provided free care to hundreds of Haitians in the Village of St. Suzanne.

Shooters World

Bruce Kitzis, General Manager

 Startup Company: Shooters World

Shooters World was created to be a family-friendly gun store with deep inventory, a state-of-the art shooting range and professional instruction. They offer more than 30 courses to the public including introductory classes, women-only sessions, junior firearm safety and more. Shooters World opened its 62,000 sq. ft. facility in December 2012, making it Florida’s largest firearm store, indoor public shooting range and training facility. Shooters World is expanding throughout Florida and expects to open its Orlando location next year.


Pete Slade, CEO

 5 – 20 Employees: Nitro Mobile Solutions

Nitro Mobile Solutions is a software development company providing enterprises and financial institutions with full-service mobile applications and platforms. Nitro was founded in 2009, but the vision developed in 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at the World Wide Developers Conference. The company started the “Nitro Mobile Solutions Scholarship in Computer Science and Engineering,” which awarded its first recipient from the University of South Florida in April 2014.


Brian Murphy, President/CEO & Founder

21 – 50 Employees: ReliaQuest

ReliaQuest is one of the fastest growing, cutting edge information technology security consulting firms in the United States. The company started in 2007 and handles both commercial and top secret clearance work in IT security. Currently, 20 percent of ReliaQuest’s technical team is composed of former members of the military, supporting the company’s commitment to supporting veteran and military community initiatives. ReliaQuest also sponsors events for local community groups and nonprofits such as Palma Ceia Little League teams, AirFest Tampa Bay and Moffitt Cancer Center.


Ted C. Abrams, President & CEO

51 – 250 Employees: Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company

Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company’s philosophy can be summed up in four words: “unsurpassed quality coffee experience.” Established in Tampa in 1984, Joffrey’s imports and distributes premium coffees and teas using the finest beans and tea leaves from around the world, carefully selected by its head roastmaster. Joffrey’s coffees are all roasted, blended and flavored by hand. In 2013, Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co. was named the official specialty coffee of Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Vacation Club.