The Manatee Chamber of Commerce is in the midst of their 26th Annual Membership Drive. As Chairman Elect for the Chamber, I expect it to be a difficult campaign. With the economy still struggling to rebound, many business owners are struggling to stay afloat. If they only knew the benefits of Chamber membership it would be a no-brainer for them to join. The Chamber not only does a myriad of things to improve the quality of life here in our community but the resources that the Chamber offers for businesses in unbelievable.

Many business owners think that the only thing that the Chamber does is to have monthly networking /social events where people get together and try to meet new potential business contacts. That is just a small part of what the Chamber does. The Chamber is the voice of the business community in our legislature. With Neil Spiritas as the Vice President in charge of Public Policy and Small Business the Legislative Committee travels to Tallahassee each year to meet with our Florida Legislature to lobby for the Chamber’s priorities. Neil also holds the Small Business of the Year Awards every year.

Jacki Dezelski is the Vice President in charge of our East County and Community Development. In that role, Jacki oversees the Leadership Manatee Program and the Manatee Young Professionals group as well as many the other committees and events that her arm of the Chamber is responsible for.

The Manatee Chamber of Commerce was just named the top Chamber of Commerce in the Tampa Bay by Biz 941 and has the distinction of having been named the number one Chamber of Commerce in the U.S. in 2007 and has been named the number one Chamber of Commerce in Florida three times. Our Chamber has over 2000 member businesses. There are 83 Committees and Task Forces working on behalf of the business community

The Chamber is now the official Visitor Information Center which brings countless people to the Chamber office for local information regarding our area and our local businesses. The Chamber of Commerce web site receives over 135,000 hits a month and all of the member businesses have listings on the site. The Better Business Council refers people to Chamber member businesses.

In addition to all of those things, the resources that the Chamber offers to its members are unbelievable. The Local Quotes 4 You programs on the Chamber web site connects members of the Chamber with people that are looking for goods and services with a click of the mouse. Also, the Press Release Tool allows Chamber members to contact over 80 TV stations, Radio stations, newspapers and magazines with the simplicity of sending an email. Our Tech Committee consists of 6 business owners in the technology field that guarantee to get back to the Chamber members with answers to tech question, free of charge within 24 hours of contact. Those are just a few of the benefits available to members.

Tom Seguin Chair-Elect Suncoast Gem Lab

So you can see that the Manatee Chamber of Commerce is an integral part of our community that truly does live up to its mission statement which is to build a positive business environment while enhancing our community’s quality of life.

To find out more about the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and to take advantage of the incentives that are offered to businesses that sign on during the Membership Campaign call the Chamber office at 941-748-3411 or call me directly at the Suncoast Gem Lab office at 941-756-8787.

If you are ready to join, click here for a membership application.