TREASURE ISLAND — Two neighboring island communities have joined together in hopes of promoting common goals.
The Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce has added Madeira Beach to its name along with several Madeira Beach officials and business people to its 16-member board of directors.
One of its first major events as a chamber representing both communities will be a visioning workshop May 17 to come up with shared priorities and future goals, said Jo Massaro, president of the Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce.
"We will be developing a plan of where we want to go and what our top priorities are now," she said.
The all-day workshop will be led by St. Petersburg College's Collaborative Labs, where Alan Martinez, vice chair of the chamber, is the business development officer.
Up to 50 business owners, city leaders, homeowner association officials and residents are expected to gather at the Treasure Island Community Center and create a shared vision, reach a consensus on top priorities and develop a plan of action, he said.
"Everybody's voices will be heard and we hope to come up with a plan that is robust with lots of buy-in," Martinez said.
Chamber officials in Treasure Island, which has had its own chamber of commerce, decided last summer that adding Madeira Beach into its fold would be "a move in the right direction," Massaro said.
The chamber wanted to beef up its membership and officials have kept an attentive eye on all the growth and activities going on with its northern neighbor. Madeira Beach is in the midst of a flurry of development with new hotels, restaurants and a new municipal center going up.
"There was a general feeling that we've always worked hand in hand with them so why not make it formal," Massaro said.
Shane Crawford, Madeira Beach city manager, thinks the merger will be advantageous to both communities.
"Madeira Beach is an events type of town and we should be able to share resources and cooperate because of the natural geographic location," he said.
Madeira will remain a member of the Tampa Bay Beaches chamber, which represents a number of beach communities and takes more of a "macro approach," Crawford said.
Madeira will now receive double the attention from being a part of two chambers, he said.
Julian Fant, former executive director and then president of the Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce in the 1960s, thinks adding Madeira Beach to the mix makes a lot of sense.
"There is strength in numbers," he said. Fant, who plans to attend the visioning workshop, hopes Treasure Island and Madeira Beach officials will up their efforts to promote tourism of the area, especially to northern visitors.
"We need to be promoting our biggest asset — the beaches," he said.
The chamber has recently moved into a new 3,000-square-foot building down the street from its former cramped headquarters in a retail strip mall on 107th Avenue.
The building, which chamber officials are calling a welcome center, has given a boost to new growth efforts, Martinez and Massaro said.
"There is a lot of momentum now," he said.