1. Business

A welcome note for the newcomers Amazon will bring to Ruskin

It's clear that Amazon's arrival in Ruskin will have a tremendous impact on the SouthShore area.

Much has and will be written about how life will change, but I want to share with new and old what kind of community the executives and employees are going to find when they begin working, living and playing in our home.

We are not an area without challenges, but we have much to offer and can point to signs of progress that have already taken root here.

For example, right in the heart of Ruskin you will find Hillsborough Community College-SouthShore campus, which happens to be HCC's fastest growing campus, annually enrolling more than 6,000 students.

There will be a groundbreaking for a new family YMCA in SouthShore at the end of this year for Phase 1 of their new facility.

We just welcomed the new Firehouse Cultural Center to town, which features outstanding music, theater and art in one common location.

Construction is well under way for the new St. Joseph's Hospital-South to open in the beginning of 2015. We are seeing increased home sales in existing and new communities throughout the SouthShore area.

There are so many treasures to discover right here in our back yard. SouthShore is the ideal ecotourism destination in Hillsborough County featuring two scenic rivers with inlets pouring in to open bay water inviting endless enjoyment for all.

In our community we present nature preserves, outdoor learning centers, a paleo preserve fossil museum, some of the best fishing on Tampa Bay with local charter captains, several marinas, boat ramps, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, golfing and beautiful county and state parks.

Beyond the mangroves of Apollo Beach, Tampa Electric's Manatee Viewing Center offers a unique opportunity to see manatees up close during winter.

You can watch a beautiful sunset at "Little Harbor" in Ruskin or you can check out a movie at the Ruskin Drive-In Theatre.

We are home to the largest annual event in South Hillsborough County — the Ruskin Seafood Festival — which welcomes more than 25,000 attendees the first weekend in November every year. Our second largest event is the Apollo Beach Manatee Festival of the Arts, which is held the second weekend in March.

The people of SouthShore love this area. There is a pride of belonging and being part of this community. Residents and business owners have always been proud to call this their home. We have it all: education, medical, arts and culture, industrial, agriculture, residential, tourism and retail.

Our community is truly unique. They take care of one another.

Many in the county may not be aware of all we have to offer, but we are proud to have this opportunity to introduce you to our wonderful area, and let it be known that SouthShore is open for business.

Melanie D. Morrison is the executive director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce.