They're still young, still restless and now ready to rebrand Emerge Tampa
Emerge Tampa is celebrating its 7th birthday this spring and the Tampa-based young business professionals group is in the early stages of a rebranding and revitalization of the organization for business folks ages 21-35.
Meet recently installed Emerge Tampa co-chairs Carissa Caricato and Ryan Freking. They're leading the push to make Emerge more essential, and hoping to boost membership by making the group's programs more compelling and time-effective for busy young people. I spoke with the two of them over lunch at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Here are the highlights of that conversation. (Photo: Caricato and Freking at the Columbia, by Willie J. Allen Jr. of the St. Petersburg Times.)
It seems only yesterday Emerge Tampa was launched -- the brain child of leaders of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, which made Emerge Tampa an affiliate program. The first co-chairs back in 2004, Jessica Muroff and Mike Griffin (photo, right), then 27 and 23, had similarly high hopes to fashion Emerge Tampa into a vibrant and influential group that not only was a quality networking organization for young business people looking to get ahead, but also a potential political force for younger business people to have a say in the economic direction of the community. Said Mike Griffin back then:
"We want to ensure we lay the foundation so future Emerge Tampa co-chairs on the chamber board are, frankly, a force to be reckoned with."
Has it worked? Overall, absolutely, even as the young organization has taken its bumps and bruises, especially in this difficult recession. The chamber still keeps a close grip on Emerge Tampa but seems to recognize they've got a golden goose they don't want to throttle.
That's a key reason new co-chairs Caricato and Freking are talking about a rebranding. Not a severe overhaul but maybe just enough to add a fresh jolt, shake off the old and tired, and remind everyone this is a group to be reckoned with. We'll know more by the May unveiling.
(Muroff, Griffin photo, 2004, by Ken Helle of the St. Petersburg Times.)
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist