APOLLO BEACH — The agribusiness pioneers came from Missouri more than 90 years ago and took advantage of Ruskin's lush soil and artesian wells, well suited for irrigation.
They created legendary fruit and vegetable cooperatives that helped Ruskin earn the nickname "America's Salad Bowl," and then began a thriving tomato-packing business.
Now, Amazon looks to convert some of that original farmland to a distribution center that brings the promise of thousands of new jobs.
The SouthShore Chamber of Commerce acknowledged the Dickman family's achievements at the chamber's third annual Membership and Awards Dinner Jan. 31 at Del Webb's South Shore Falls Clubhouse. Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman presented a commendation to brothers Glenn and Ned Dickman, descendants of the family patriarch, Paul B. Dickman.
"We have all this in our community now due to your family and your continued support," said chamber executive director Melanie Morrison. "There's a pride living here. Everything is down here and everyone is moving down here as well."
New 2014 chamber president Carrie Elwell, owner and operator of Kids R Kids SouthShore in Gibsonton, echoed those sentiments.
"This place is bursting with opportunity," Ewell said. "There are so many savvy business people here. I am honored and excited to be the new president. I anticipate great things for 2014." More than 275 people attended the island-themed event. Commendations from county commissioners were also presented to the SouthShore chamber Board of Directors and longtime member John Smith, who has held almost every role in the chamber.
Shannon Brown, the assistant director at Kids R Kids in Gibsonton earned the title of 2014 Honorary Mayor of SouthShore. Brown's husband, Aaron, who passed away unexpectedly from brain cancer in 2011, worked an athletic trainer and believed in supporting and nurturing young athletes, especially those who are economically disadvantaged. In his memory, Brown will devote her time as mayor to raising money for young athletes in need.
"I really want to help out kids in the area that want to participate in organized sports but can't afford the equipment or the registration fees," Brown said. "If it can keep them out of trouble, than I've served my purpose."
Brown stages her first charitable event in March, a fishing tournament with the South Shore Anglers Club to buy sports gear for the local Buddy Ball organization, a nonprofit for kids with special needs who want to play sports.
The 2013 awards included: Small Business of the Year — Legal Shred; Large Business of the Year — Baycare-St. Joseph's Hospital South; Ambassador of the Year — Charlotte Cark, vice president banking, American Momentum Bank; E.G. Simmons Award for Outstanding Community Service — Tony Zipperer, Zipperer's Funeral Home; and Volunteer of the Year — Mandy Burdick.
Kathryn Moschella can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.