Those of you who are my friend on Facebook are probably aware that I recently hit my twelve year anniversary with the Manatee Chamber. Wow! I thought it might be fun to reflect on some of the changes we’ve experienced since 2000.
- Social Media. Yeah, that’s the big one for me so I’m giving it top billing. Twelve years ago Facebook was nothing to us and now we have more than 3,000 fans on our page. It is such a great way to interact with members! Twitter and LinkedIn are good communication tools as well, although I’m more of a Facebook fan.
- Staff. There are lots of people still here – Bob Bartz, Jacki Dezelski, Neil Spirtas and Joni Korzen were all around when I bounced onto the scene. Lisa Reeder arrived just a few months after me. But the majority – Kim Dalglish, Reba Parrish, Jahna Leinhauser, etc. – came onboard at later dates. I don’t know how the Powers That Be find such amazing people, but they do so consistently!
- Chamber of the Year. We won our first Florida Chamber of the Year Award just six months into my tenure. Food, parties, and accolades – I just knew I was going to love this job! Two more Florida Chamber of the Year Awards and the inaugural National Chamber of the Year were to come.
- Members. We hit some bumps in the road due to the economy, but our membership is higher than it was then and we’ve added some great members! I count most of them as friends because you’re not going to meet a better bunch of people anywhere.
- Lakewood Ranch Office. My predecessor hadn’t quit… instead, she headed out to the ComCenter on State Road 70 to open our first mid-County office. Which later grew to become our Lakewood Ranch Office at the McClure Center.
- ManateeCalendar.com. That little calendar we used to have on our website became it’s own site and grew to include events from throughout our area. It’s an invaluable tool (and if you’re not posting your events on there free of charge, you should be).
- Manatee Young Professionals. I sure was a young professional when I started, since I was just 27 years old! Ours is the longest-running young professionals organization in the South Tampa Bay Area and it is awesome if I do say so myself. Yours truly helped choose the domain name MYPOnline.com. Short and to the point!
- Green Certification / Sustainable Manatee. What was that twelve years ago? Our green initiative back then was choosing the golf tournament shirt color. Now our local businesses are saving the environment through dedication to eco-friendly products and programs! And we have an electric car charging station right outside my office window. Spiffy!
I could go on and on about how our Manatee Chamber has continued to grow and expand, adding programs and initiatives. But my post is already pretty long, so I’ll just sign off by telling you this is a great organization to work for and the businesses that are members are the best. I enjoy working with each and every one of you!
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