Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Business

Wesley Chapel, Greater Pasco chambers of commerce merge

LAND O'LAKES — Two chambers of commerce representing more than 850 business members from west Pasco to Wesley Chapel and New Tampa are merging into a single organization.

The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce, formerly known as the Trinity Odessa chamber, are combining, the groups announced Wednesday morning. The entity, still unnamed, will be headed by Hope Allen, president and CEO of the Wesley Chapel chamber, and will operate under that chamber's bylaws and organizational structure.

"We believe one united chamber is better positioned to work with local governments, economic development agencies and businesses looking to locate/expand in our community,'' states a consolidation resolution approved by the directors of both chambers earlier this month.

The new group reduces to five the number of chambers in Pasco County. West Pasco, Dade City, Zephyrhills and central Pasco — based in Land O'Lakes – also have their own chambers of commerce.

The Wednesday morning announcement at Land O'Lakes High School drew directors from both chambers, Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore and Pasco Economic Development Council president/CEO Bill Cronin.

"The Wesley Chapel chamber is in line with the same thinking as our board, and that is we need to be an organization that advocates for our members,'' said Mike Cox, chairman of the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce board of directors. "PEDC has targeted industries, and they do their job focusing on them. What chambers do is dovetail with that and help very well the businesses not in the targeted industries.''

CHAMBER MERGER: Chambers tried merging in 2016.

The combined chamber will be named following a marketing study, and the new identity will be voted upon by the members.

"We want to do it right,'' said Allen. "We want to have our members involved in the conversation and the community as a whole involved in the conversation.''

The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce was formed 19 years ago by educators and business representatives as a way to build an identity in the burgeoning area and to bolster school-business partnerships. It absorbed the New Tampa Chamber of Commerce in 2014. It currently has 612 members, including 160 in Tampa and Hillsborough County.

The former Trinity Odessa chamber rebranded itself as the Greater Pasco chamber last summer in anticipation of merging with the Central Pasco chamber, but that affiliation never came to fruition. The group in Trinity began less than four years ago and has 247 members.

After the failed merger with the Central Pasco chamber, the Greater Pasco group began an affiliation with the Wesley Chapel chamber in January, allowing small businesses the opportunity to join both chambers at a discounted price. About 15 have done so, and that became the genesis for the merger discussions.

Under the operating agreement, the Wesley Chapel board of directors will expand from 17 up to 24 members, with five to seven members of the Greater Pasco board joining. Both chamber offices will remain in operation ,with membership coordinators working out of the former Greater Pasco site in Lutz. The new chamber is now the largest in Pasco County.

BORDER WAR: Chambers clashed over mall site.

The merger leaves the Central Pasco chamber, which began 43 years ago as the Land O'Lakes Chamber of Commerce, in the odd position of sitting in the middle of the new, larger chamber's membership draw. The Central Pasco chamber has butted heads with the Greater Wesley Chapel chamber over the geographic designation of the area along State Road 56, just west of Interstate 75. That's where the Tampa Premium Outlets mall opened in 2015. It is designated as Lutz by the U.S. Postal Service, but businesses there market themselves as being in Wesley Chapel.

Cox, however, said he hoped the various chambers could work together.

"Quite frankly, we hope we have more working relationships with the other chambers as well,'' he said.

Comments
Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Q: I seem to be caught between two high-level managers who really don’t like each other. One is a director, the other is a vice president, and I am an assistant to both. Whenever the director stops by my desk to chat, she makes critical remarks about...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment, but ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

State investigators have discovered more than double the number of credit card skimmers in the Tampa Bay area in 2017 than in 2016 — with still a few weeks left in the year. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found 54 skimmer...
Updated: 9 hours ago
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Times Staff WriterThe percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments rose slightly in September, probably due to Hurricane Irma. According to CoreLogic, 7 percent of bay area mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days c...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Paddling on the heels of the last supermoon of 2017, Phil Hughes navigated an uncommonly low tide off Dunedin through St. Joseph Sound on an effortless but lengthy glide.This is not easy water, nor an easy paddle, and could be especially daunting for...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

TAMPA — Punit Shah’s Liberty Group announced plans Tuesday to start construction in January on a Channel District project that will include a Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites, both by Hilton, plus a Starbucks Coffee.Financing for the $40 million project ...
Published: 12/12/17
Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Shortly after leaving his job as chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to strike out on his own as an entrepreneur, Nick Reader wondered if he’d made the right move. "I probably had one of the coolest jobs in Tampa," said Reader, 42. Si...
Published: 12/12/17
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Published: 12/12/17