APOLLO BEACH — Nearly a year and a half after the Apollo Beach and Ruskin chambers merged, the newly formed SouthShore Chamber of Commerce reports that a membership survey yielded positive results about the collaborative effort.
At the chamber's second annual awards banquet, held Jan. 25 at the Del Webb community clubhouse in Apollo Beach, survey committee spokesman and past president Greg Conley reported that 88 percent of the members who responded to the survey noted improvement because of the merger.
The chambers merged in July 2011.
The dinner featured a Mardi Gras theme with jazz music, costumes, masks and Cajun-influenced cuisine prepared by the culinary arts students of the South County Career Center.
Outgoing president Joel Meek, CEO of All Bay Insurance Group, passed the gavel to incoming president Ron Simpson of Weichert Realtors SouthShore.
The chamber also paid tribute to longtime chamber board member Gary Schumacher, who died over the Christmas holidays. His wife, Helen, accepted the 2012 Ambassador Award, which will now be called the Gary Schumacher Ambassador Award, from executive director Melanie Morrison.
Members recognized for their contribution and commitment to the chamber in 2012 include: Small Business of the Year: C1 Bank, Apollo Beach; Large Business of the Year: Kids R Kids; the E.G. Simmons Award for outstanding community service: South Shore Anglers; Volunteer of the Year: Nick and Dolores Gagliardi; and the First Honorary Mayor of SouthShore 2013: Lindsey Hicks, Victoria's 5th Avenue Salon.