Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce Newsletter
FAST FACTS 41
December 13th, 2013
GALA HOLIDAY MIXER/PARTY, THURSDAY, DEC. 19 AT 5:30 PM !
Members and Guests, be sure to be at the Gulfport Community Players Backdoor Theater at 5:30 on Thursday, December 19 where there will be finger food+ from several area restaurants plus beer, wine and soft drinks for everyone. This is also the night we honor the many dozens of volunteers who keep the Chamber going all year. Several Holiday prizes will be raffled off throughout the evening.
Once we’ve recognized and toasted our volunteers, there won’t be anything serious going on. The rest will be fun, food and games. Don’t miss it! Everyone who is anyone will be there.
GALA CHRISTMAS PARTY
Gulfport Community Players Backdoor Theater
1619 49th Street South,
Alvona Ellington, Store Manager
6850 Gulfport Boulevard South
Welcome to our new neighbor, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market! Set for a grand opening on March 7, hiring is currently under way. The number of jobs created will be 105. Know of anyone looking for a job? Talk to Ms. Ellington at the party on the 19th.
GULFPORT AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
2013 ANNUAL REPORT TO MEMBERS
This year is the second consecutive year of growth for the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2012 the Chamber enjoyed a 43% growth to 105 members as of December 31, 2012. In 2013 the Chamber grew to 136 members as of December 11, 2013 or an annual rate of about 30%. More important than the growth in numbers was increased participation by members and volunteers in an expanding list of programs and activities at the Chamber. The Gulfport Region, which now includes South Pasadena and the Western end of Central Avenue as well as some unincorporated territory, has resulted in about 20% of Chamber Members being from outside the City limits, but within our more than 20,000 person primary market area.
In a stated effort to make the Gulfport Area, “a better place to live and work,” and to increase the impact of the business community on the economic well being of the area, several activities and programs were carried out. While direct benefit to the prosperity of area businesses and institutions is a desired result of Chamber activities, indirect benefits are the primary objective based on the old adage, “A rising tide raises all ships.” A happy, well led and more prosperous community results in more and better customers and clients for our Members over the long run.
A brief rundown of the Chamber’s accomplishments during 2013 are as follows:
- Membership– A four color membership brochure was written and published. Through accurate management systems and consistent follow-up by our Operations Manager, membership retention at renewal time was substantially improved. A mid-year membership drive added 30 new members. An on-line membership application and credit card/Paypal payment method was installed on our web-site. Attendance at mixer/networking meetings is growing in numbers and importance to our Members.
- Area Marketing-A four color street map of the Gulfport Area was produced for use by residents, visitors and relocatees. Our two spring events, Aquamania and Springfest were revised and updated with the result of drawing more people to the city. The addition of Aquamania and a “Faerie Festival,” theme to Springfest will, hopefully, be incorporated into future events. The 9th Annual Pink Flamingo Home tour was one of the best in the series drawing many people to Gulfport for the first time. Almost continuous e-mails to worldwide tourism publications and a large presence in social media was carried out with considerable success.
- Community Affairs-A Community Affairs Committee was established late in the year at the Board’s direction to represent business interests with governmental entities and to encourage public participation in local affairs. Establishing the Chamber as “The Voice of Business,” in our area is a top priority. “Operation: a Gift for Learning,” in September resulted in over $4,500 in school supplies being donated to the Gulfport Elementary School. (along with co-sponsor/member America’s Office Source, the Chamber received the Spirit of Gulfport Award.) Several local organizations received financial support from the Chamber.
- Economic Development-Using the expertise of retired entrepreneurs, educators and executives, small businesses received valuable advice and assistance in locating or growing their businesses. (Cell Phone Solution, Salty’s, J’s, Beach Haus, Little Tommies Tiki) Three potential investors/entrepreneurs from out of the area were shown properties in Gulfport.
- Mentors/Education-The Chamber played an active role in supporting local schools in the belief that the better educated our children are, the better all of our lives will be. In addition, future leaders will come from those we help. Support for the Gulfport Elementary School is mentioned above under Community Affairs. Members Lawrence Burke, David Hastings and Don Stafford along with Executive Director Bob Newcomb serve as Community Advisors for “Project Lead the Way,” at Boca Ciega High School, a national program to encourage students to enter science, technology, engineering and math related fields. The advisory group was instrumental in helping Principal Michael Vigue to extend the program to a wider range of students and, in conjunction with P-Tech, to allow students to secure certificates in various trades along with a high school diploma. Building an appropriately trained employee pool is essential to regional growth.
- In October and November the Chamber sponsored the first in a series of seminars designed to provide local businesses and institutions with the tools to compete in today’s high tech market. The two day seminar was an introductory lesson in the profitable use of social media. Kelly Wright of ZK Dezigns and Lillie Cintron, the Chamber Operations Manager were in charge of the presentation. This seminar will be repeated in 2014 due to popular demand. Other programs are in the planning stage.
- Volunteers-2013 saw a substantial growth in the numbers of Members and friends volunteering for service in the work of the Chamber. Members who actively participate on Chamber Committees, the Board of Directors and Chamber projects found that there is a direct benefit to working with other Members due to the friendships and business relationships created as a result. Volunteer work by friends of the Chamber has always been the mainstay of Chamber success. Well over 100 of our good friends provided invaluable assistance in the design and implementation of Chamber projects, most notably our Ninth Annual Tour of Homes. Dozens of volunteers staff our offices, answer our phones and handle the inquiries of people who contact the Chamber from all over the world. For these wonderful people, the Chamber is eternally grateful.
The Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to being a driving force in making the Gulfport Area a better place in which to live and work by sponsoring programs and projects that will improve our area image through appropriate branding; that will create an improved educational environment for young people and small businesses alike; that will stress the value of supporting small, local and independent businesses; that will represent business interests in the public arena and that will address problems facing area businesses, (with special emphasis on solving parking issues created by the recent successes in our Historic Waterfront and on guiding the redevelopment of the 49th Street area).
New shops are opening all along Gulfport Boulevard where there are almost no vacancies. New shops are opening in our Waterfront District. All of our restaurants, with only one exception are open and either are or are on the way to doing well. The City of Gulfport is making a substantial investment in developing our waterfront by expanding our Marina, improving our docking facilities and creating a mooring field to attract many boaters to our shores. South Pasadena is poised to see substantial business growth through local, business friendly legislation and through the early 2014 opening of a major anchor store in the mall at the heart of the commercial district.
This was a good year for our area and 2014 and beyond should be even better. Your Chamber of Commerce, with the support of its Members, local government and friends. is ready and able to lead our future growth and development in a way that will maximize our economic potential without negatively altering the treasured character of our community.
- Museum Trolley Christmas Party – Friday, December 13
Arrive at 6:30 p.m. Trolley Leaves at 7 p.m.
Gulfport Historical Museum 5301 28th Ave. S. Gulfport, FL 33707
- Gulfport Neighbors Beach Cleanup – Saturday, December 14 9 a.m.
Gulfport Beach Waterfront Complex Shelter #4
- Holiday Hoopla – Saturday, December 14 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
3129 Beach Blvd. S. Gulfport, FL 33707
- Boca Ciega Yacht Club’s 28th Annual Lighted Christmas Boat Parade – Saturday, December 14
Leaves Gulfport Marina approximately 6 p.m.
New ideas are always welcome. Criticisms of what we are doing are the springboards to improvement.
Please call or email us with your comments at:
727-344-3711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.