Sunday, February 25, 2018
News Roundup

Brandon Chamber characterizes building sell as positive

BRANDON — The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce has put its signature headquarters at 330 Pauls Drive on the market, with an asking price of $3.1 million.

The two-story, 21,500-square-foot building, home to the chamber for 10 years, has drawn a flurry of interest in the past two or three weeks since it went on the open market, said Cami Gibertini, a banking executive and 17-year chamber member who became chair of the organization's board in February. The chamber first advertised the building to chamber members but no buyers came forward, she said.

A task force is studying options for the chamber's staff of eight once the building is sold, including relocation and the possibility of leasing space in the existing headquarters as a tenant.

"We may stay in the building," Gibertini said. "We do love it. It's a wonderful building."

Christine Michaels, who has been chamber executive director for a little more than a year, said the chamber's four full-time and three part-time employees use the lobby, an adjacent office, conference rooms and a storage area.

The chamber also is asking $475,000 for land adjacent to its headquarters that is part of the 1.64-acre chamber site. The spot has potential for a two-story structure of up to 12,000 square feet of office space, according to marketing materials.

Gibertini said the chamber's finances are "in the black," despite a drop in business memberships from 1,100 a year or so ago to about 800. She attributed some of the decline to nonpayment of dues and said chamber officials will follow up to determine how much of that might stem from oversight.

However, she and Michael Matthews, immediate past chamber chair, said scrutiny of the organization's finances and future outlook made it clear that changes had to be made for the nonprofit business advocacy organization.

Generally, they said, that means the chamber needs to focus on its core missions of nurturing local businesses, identifying community needs and working toward improving the quality of life in Brandon and its surrounding neighborhoods.

"The chamber is going to be fine," Gibertini said. "The chamber is not the building."

Matthews, who started a business as a tenant in the Pauls Drive building before recently relocating to Carrollwood, said chamber leaders identified a need for changes a few years ago. Key members examined every expense and revenue source with an eye toward whether it furthered the organization's mission, he said.

"We said, 'We're going to run this business like a business,' " Matthews said.

As a result, he said, it whittled the staff of about 20 four years ago to seven now. Property management and maintenance, along with generation of the chamber's long-standing print directory, once a major revenue source for the organization, were among activities the chamber shed.

Production of the annual directory has been outsourced, eliminating the need for sales staff. Gibertini said the chamber will continue to provide the publication because it remains popular with members.

She said the chamber is actively seeking membership input about what services should be offered. Chamber staff and committee leaders have embraced the slogan, "You talk, we listen, things change."

Michaels said feedback from members so far has led to such ideas as online networking, orientation videos, opportunities to market individual businesses on the chamber Facebook page and staging events jointly with neighboring chamber organizations.

Gibertini and Matthews said changing economic times and a series of interim leaders in recent years likely affected chamber operations and its relationship with members. Ownership of the Pauls Drive building, one of the vanguards of the Brandon Main Street concept, was a visionary step for the chamber 10 years ago, but Matthews said times have changed. He said he doesn't believe that future development under the plan will be impacted if the chamber sells its investment.

Contact Susan Marschalk Green at [email protected]

Comments
5 dead after tornado, flooding from central US storms

5 dead after tornado, flooding from central US storms

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The death toll rose to at least five on Sunday after severe thunderstorms swept through the central U.S., spawning a tornado that flattened homes, gale force winds and widespread flooding from the Upper Midwest to Appalachia.The s...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Michelle Obama’s memoir ‘Becoming’ will be released in November

Michelle Obama’s memoir ‘Becoming’ will be released in November

Former first lady Michelle Obama’s first book post-White House will be a memoir titled "Becoming" that will hit book shelves on November 13."Becoming," which publishing company Penguin Random House called "unusually intimate" in a news release Sunday...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
NRA spokeswoman becomes new face of gun rights movement

NRA spokeswoman becomes new face of gun rights movement

CHICAGO — Dana Loesch is the new public face of the National Rifle Association, an organization long associated with older white men. At 39, she’s poised, photogenic and a skilled public speaker, yet she’s not softening the message of the NRA as it b...
Updated: 12 minutes ago

Updated: 15 minutes ago
Hit-and-run driver in fatal accident sought by law enforcement

Hit-and-run driver in fatal accident sought by law enforcement

A hit-and-run crash has left a Tampa man dead, his female passenger in critical condition and law enforcement in search of the man who was driving the vehicle that struck them from behind.A Nissan Sentra was traveling north in the inside lane of U.S....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Meet the aptly named Friend of Gasparilla Distance Classic weekend

Meet the aptly named Friend of Gasparilla Distance Classic weekend

TAMPA — Runners in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic know The Voice. Year after year, it comes back to them like home. They hear her before they see her as they head up or back on Bayshore Boulevard. The Voice makes them feel part of somet...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Troopers: Bradenton man dies after falling through hole in RV

Troopers: Bradenton man dies after falling through hole in RV

A Bradenton man died on Interstate 75 in Sumter County on Sunday after falling through a hole that opened in the cabin of a recreational vehicle when it collided with a guardrail, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The man, whose name was not im...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Gasparilla Distance Classic: A day (or two) at the races

Gasparilla Distance Classic: A day (or two) at the races

Meet the various people who take in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic race weekend, whether on the sidelines or pounding the pavement.Woman's best friendAt about the one hour, 45-minute mark of Saturday's 15K, an Australian shepherd wearing a se...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Riverview woman dies in Friday car crash

A woman died Friday when her car collided with another vehicle on U.S. 301 in Riverview, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Melanie Hoitt, 38, of Riverview was driving a Nissan Altima north on U.S. 301 approaching Southern Pointe Boulevard short...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

PLANT CITY — A man died Saturday night after he was stabbed inside his home by a neighbor, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Moses Wilson, 49, got into an argument with James Michael Meeks, 23, both of whom live at 4308 James L. R...
Updated: 4 hours ago