Friday, December 15, 2017
Business

North Pinellas gets another Chamber of Commerce — No. 8

PALM HARBOR — There are already seven chambers of commerce between Clearwater and Tarpon Springs, but Steve Fiske believed it was time for one more.

The job local chambers of commerce are expected to do — promoting and supporting business — was "not being done,'' said Fiske, a former Greater Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce board member.

So six months ago, he launched the North Pinellas Regional Chamber of Commerce in an office at 3150 Tampa Road in Oldsmar. Already, the new chamber has more than 100 members, according to Fiske, 67.

"I started this because I saw that businesses were being under-served. I felt the old guard wanted to stay with their way of doing things and that it was time for a new model,'' he said.

Fiske is the publisher of Tampa Bay Woman Newspaper, a business he started nine years ago while splitting his time between Chicago and New Port Richey. Before he moved to Pinellas County full time in 2010, Fiske worked in the public relations industry in Chicago and Los Angeles.

While on the board of the Palm Harbor chamber, which was created more than 30 years ago, Fiske won the title "Honorary Mayor of Palm Harbor'' for both 2010 and 2011. The honor is given annually to the member whose fundraising efforts for the chamber are most successful.

However, last summer, Fiske decided to resign from the Palm Harbor chamber and focus on his own entity, drawing from past experiences working with two California chambers: the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Westlake Village chamber.

"It's time to modernize. I feel that businesses in this area should be promoted as a whole — the whole North Pinellas region,'' he said. "I felt the area had been fragmented and tribalized by the way things had been run for so long.''

Not only should there be more member-to-member networking, "… but I also want to network out of state. I believe that businesses in other places would be very interested in the economic potential of northern Pinellas,'' he said.

Already, the new chamber has businesses on its roster from not only Palm Harbor and nearby Dunedin and Safety Harbor, but from downtown Clearwater, Holiday and Tampa as well. Recent events the chamber has held include a town hall meeting on Feb. 27 with state Rep. Carl Zimmermann that drew 60 participants, and a "Power Hour Lunch'' Feb. 13 with the publisher of the Tampa Bay Business Journal that drew 50 guests.

One of the founding members of the North Pinellas Regional Chamber of Commerce is David Lamont who, along with his wife, Nancy, opened Ace Hardware in Palm Harbor in 2011.

Lamont, who is also a member of the Greater Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce, says he was pleased to hear of the new chamber starting up.

"I felt like when it came to chamber activity, there needed to be more depth,'' he said. "And I've already seen some good come out of having this new one start up. Competition (between the chambers) has been a good thing.''

Connie Davis has been president and chief executive officer of the Greater Palm Harbor Chamber since November 1990. Her organization held its annual Evening Extraordinaire last week at the Innisbrook Resort, attracting some 13 sponsors and 200 guests.

When asked if she sees the new chamber as competition, Davis stated, "The different chambers in the area do not compete with one another. We have always worked together.''

Davis also said she wondered what Fiske meant when he said it was "time for a new model.''

"What does that mean, a new model?'' she asked. "I attended the Institute for Organization Management. It's a nationwide program for chamber executives, and we learn a certain way of doing things for our chamber. We also belong to the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals. Does he?"

According to Fiske, his new entity is still moving through the process to become a full-fledged chamber.

"Our goal is to become a member of both the Florida and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Right now we are in organizational mode,'' he said. "But when we hire someone full time to run our chamber, we will recruit that person who is experienced in running chambers.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at (727) 445-4163 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Published: 12/14/17