Chamber installs new leadership at 132nd Annual Meeting

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce held its 132nd Annual Meeting presented by HCI today at the Tampa Convention Center. A sold-out crowd of almost 1,000 attendees came together to celebrate the Chamber’s 2017 achievements. 2017 Chamber Chair Mike Griffin of Savills Studley Occupier Services, passed the gavel to 2018 Chair Steven Bernstein, Esq., Fisher Phillips. The Chamber also received greetings from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Sandy Murman. 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.

On behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Clark Thomason recognized the Chamber with a 5-star accreditation designation – the highest designation. “There are only 112 5-Star Chambers in the U.S.” Thomason said. “That puts the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce in the top 1.6% of all Chambers in the nation.”

Griffin highlighted the Chamber’s 2017 accomplishments, which aligned with the 10-year vision plan, Vision 2026. He also announced the inaugural cohort of the Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) program. Chameleon Custom Solutions, Matcon Construction Services, Inc., McKenzie Contracting, LLC, and MidFlorida Armored & ATM Service will begin the two-year program in January 2018. Founding sponsors of the program are Tampa International Airport, TECO, Vinik Family Foundation and Valley National Bank previously USAmeriBank.

Bernstein said that he hopes to build strong relationships not only in Tampa but throughout the entire Bay area by working cooperatively with other business organizations. He introduced the Chamber’s 2018 Executive Committee Members, including:

Chair Steven Bernstein, Esq. Fisher Phillips
Chair-Elect Jamie Harden Creative Sign Designs
Treasurer Maryann Ferenc Mise en Place
Finance Scott DeThomas GTE Financial
At Large
Hugh Campbell AC4S
Laura Crouch TECO
Scott Daigle TD Bank
Steve Griggs Tampa Bay Lightning
Christopher Rogers Sykes Enterprises Incorporated
Yvette Segura USAA
Kareem Spratling, Esq. Bryant Miller Olive P.A.
John Tomlin Tomlin St. Cyr & Associates
Legal Counsel Andy Mayts, Esq. GrayRobinson

The Chamber also presented the 2017 H.L. Culbreath Jr. Profile in Leadership Award to Alex Sink. The award is presented annually in recognition of an individual whose leadership has made a positive impact within the greater Tampa community.

Alex Sink served as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) from 2007 to 2011 as one of four statewide elected officials. She managed over $15 billion in state treasury funds, was responsible for state accounting, and implemented reforms in contracting and transparency for citizens. Before elected office, Alex had a 26-year career with Bank of America. She retired as President of Florida operations in 2000, managing the state’s largest bank leading 9000 employees. From 2011 to 2013, she was Senior Advisor to Hyde Park Capital Advisors, a middle market boutique M&A firm. Alex founded Florida Next Foundation, a non-profit devoted to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in Florida. She subsequently joined the board of Tampa Wave in 2016 to continue her work in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Florida. She is a Life Trustee at Wake Forest University, serves on the boards of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, United Way Worldwide Leadership Council, United Way Suncoast, and Junior Achievement.

In addition, the guest speakers for the first two signature events of 2017 were also revealed. The 20th Annual Military Appreciation Awards on February 15th will feature Corporal Michael Jernigan, USMC (Ret.). While deployed in Iraq, Michael suffered life-changing injuries including the loss of both eyes.  The guest speaker for the Women of Influence Luncheon on April 26th is Linda Alvarado, CEO of Alvarado Construction, Inc. – a large, Denver-based industrial contracting/site design firm. Linda made history as the first female owner and the first Hispanic owner of a Major League Baseball franchise, the Colorado Rockies.


Chamber launches Minority Business Accelerator

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the launch of its Minority Business Accelerator program.  This program is geared towards helping Black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to company growth. The MBA will provide participants with the tools and knowledge to increase their organizational capacity, cultivate business opportunities & referrals and raise their brand awareness and visibility.

“One of the pillars of the Chamber’s ten-year vision plan is to be an inclusive organization.  The Minority Business Accelerator is the first program under that pillar and we are excited to launch the program in the first year of our vision plan.  This program is the result of the engagement and hard work of many Chamber volunteers over the last three years and I look forward to announcing the first class at our Annual Meeting this year,” said Mike Griffin, Chair, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Recruitment for the program begins in August and there will be two Community Info Sessions prior to the application period to allow business owners that want to learn more about the program. The inaugural participants in the program will be announced at the Chamber’s 132nd Annual Meeting on December 14.

“I have been involved in this project since I co-chaired the Minority Business Caucus two years ago.  This initiative is the culmination of researching similar programs in other communities and understanding the needs of the Tampa/Hillsborough County area.  I am excited to chair the first class of our Minority Business Accelerator and I look forward to helping Black and Hispanic owned and operated businesses in our community reach their fullest potential,” said Bemetra Simmons, Chair, Minority Business Accelerator Program.


More information about the MBA program can be found at

Community Info Session #1
June 27, 2017 @ 11:30 am – 1 pm
Robert W. Saunders Library
1505 N. Nebraska Ave
Tampa, FL 33602

Community Info Session #2
June 29, 2017 @ 12:30 pm – 2 pm
West Tampa Branch Library
2312 W. Union St.
Tampa, FL 33607