Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce launches fundraising drive for new office

The request is simple: a dollar out of a business owner's pocket each day for 77 days. The goal: to enable the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce to move into new and renovated digs at the Airport Industrial Park by fall.

The Renovation Rally, as the campaign is dubbed, targets the chamber's more than 800 members. Renovation costs are pegged at $100,000, with $39,000 already in hand, said president and chief executive Pat Crowley. Fundraising for the rally began May 27 and continues through Aug. 11.

If each chamber member donates $1 a day for the 77 days, the remaining $61,000 that's needed will be raised.

The chamber bought the 4,300-square-foot building in March 2008 for about $400,000 with a "substantial" down payment and a mortgage, Crowley said.

It leased the structure at 15558 Aviation Drive until recently to the Pasco Hernando Workforce Board, which has moved most of its work to nearby 3185 Premier Drive in the Regent Oaks strip center off Spring Hill Drive. It will maintain several administrative offices at the chamber site.

While the building constructed in the early 1990s was designed with individual office spaces, the chamber aims to create a seminar training room that can accommodate 50 to 75 people, either at tables or in a stadium setting. That means tearing down some walls, Crowley said.

Other renovations include bringing the building up to code standards for the disabled, installing carpet, painting and refreshing six offices for administrative purposes.

The chamber has given up its leased space off Commercial Way in Spring Hill and consolidated at its central office at 101 E Fort Dade Ave., close to the courthouse in downtown Brooksville, where it has offered services since 1959.

"We are the first stop (there) for visitors and newcomers, also businesses," Crowley noted. "I think it's important to maintain a presence. The board of directors hasn't made a decision on maintaining the Brooksville office."

She added that the building in the Airport Industrial Park can be seen from Spring Hill Drive.

The seminar training space is critical to such popular programs as monthly networking sessions, quarterly government affairs luncheons with speakers, an annual new residents reception, an annual business showcase, and courses in assertiveness training, leadership development and public speaking.

"This training center will give us the opportunity to create additional programs to support small businesses," Crowley said.

One member who has taken advantage of the chamber offerings is Cami Sepulveda, founder in 2005 of Multicolor Media of Spring Hill, which creates Web and graphic designs and does printing.

"I've taken the entrepreneurs academy, assertive training, the leadership program, am a mentor in the mentor program and chair of the membership committee," said Sepulveda, 32. "(The chamber) gives me an ability to grow as a person, do business with other people — to get out in the community."

Chamber member Chris Fiffie, owner of Instant Images in Spring Hill, which provides marketing photographs for businesses and advertisers, and also produces TV commercials, is equally grateful for the chamber's offerings.

"The chamber helped us because we came as a brand-new business, not knowing the community," said Fiffie, who moved to Hernando from South Florida in June 2007.

"The chamber helped us, No. 1, in laying groundwork for a new business. The chamber gave us more presence in the community, helped us grow," he said. "We attended monthly chamber breakfasts — all the networking opportunities."

Beth Gray can be reached at graybethn@earthlink.net.

fast facts

To donate

To pledge a donation to the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce's Renovation Rally, call (352) 796-0697, ext. 12, or e-mail barbara@hernando

chamber.com.

Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce launches fundraising drive for new office 06/28/09 [Last modified: Sunday, June 28, 2009 5:46pm]

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