The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce plans to change its name to the Tampa Bay Chamber, a move that has some worried that it will cause confusion.
The new name will better reflect the organization’s regional scope, said president and CEO Bob Rohrlack. The chamber has more than 1,160 members from around the Tampa Bay area, though most are in Hillsborough County. Many of them already call it the Tampa Bay Chamber, and have for years, he said.
The organization supports and promotes a lot of resources that benefit everyone who lives and works in the area, including Tampa International Airport and Port Tampa Bay, he said. When the chamber works on issues like transportation and higher education, it doesn’t focus solely on how they affect Hillsborough County, he said.
“Those are regional assets,” he said. “We are not a small, isolated area. We need to be thinking regionally.”
The Tampa Bay Times found a copy of the name change documents filed with the state. After the Times called for comment, the chamber decided to announce the change to its members on Thursday morning. The official switch, including a new logo, will come in December.
Rohrlack didn’t see much else changing. He expects to maintain what he described as good relationships with other nearby chambers of commerce. He didn’t want other organizations to think the Tampa Bay Chamber was trying to elbow into their territory. He said businesses join the chamber — or chambers — that make sense to them.
“There’s not a competitive relationship going on with the chambers. We share a lot of members,” he said. “This was just a natural, evolutionary move for us.”
Bill Kent, chairman of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that the two organizations have had a “long and positive relationship” on issues that affect the region. He was not aware of the name change until recently.
“The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce has concerns that the proposed name, Tampa Bay Chamber, may create confusion with other organizations outside and inside our Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area,” he said.
Kent looks forward to learning more about the reasons behind the name change from the Tampa Bay Chamber. He said his board will discuss the issue at its next meeting.
Several other agencies and organizations based in Hillsborough have recently changed their name to use “Tampa Bay," including Film Tampa Bay and Visit Tampa Bay, which promotes tourism.
The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation is also changing its name. It will become the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council.
The Clearwater Regional Chamber and the Clearwater Beach Chamber recently merged to become Amplify Clearwater. President and CEO Amanda Payne said in a statement that her organization understands the “need for a refresh.” She added that "collaboration of our organizations is the most effective way to drive change regionally.”
Amplify Clearwater shares "the same concerns of many others in the Tampa Bay footprint that the name change is misleading and will create confusion,” she said. “We ... look forward to learning additional details from the Tampa Chamber leadership.”
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said in a statement that she thought the area needs to brand itself as a region.
“When St. Pete wins, we all win. When Clearwater wins, we all win, and when Tampa wins, we all win,” she said. “So when the chamber and the (economic development corporation) decided to rebrand Tampa Bay, I was all for it.”
Times staff writer Charlie Frago contributed to this report.