Happy New Year!!!!
I want to take this opportunity to thank all our partners, members, volunteers, board of directors, and my loyal staff for the outstanding support you brought during 2018. As I reach my one-year anniversary as the President/CEO, I am grateful and honored for the opportunity to work and grow in this fast-moving and friendly community.
2018 in Review
- Membership – On Jan. 1, 2018, our chamber had approximately 160 active members. As of Jan. 1 of this new year, we now have more than 300 active members. Over the past calendar year, more than 200 new businesses joined our rolls, bringing our sphere of influence to its highest level. We predict and are budgeting for a minimum growth of 100 more members during 2019.
- Partnerships – In 2018, our partnership levels of enhanced participation grew from zero to 10 with our highest level of partnership at $20,000 and our least expensive level of $1,500. These partners enjoy discounted rates or no added costs for increased benefits, including more categories in the directory, event sponsorships, event attendance, multiple other marketing tools along with recognition at all chamber events and on marketing materials. The left sidebar of this page holds a list of your 2018 Chamber partners.
- Staff Support – Over the past year as our membership grew, we also made efforts to meet increasing demands by adding experienced and motivated staff members. After I joined in December 2017 to help Administrative Coordinator Elaine Vail, in January we added Business Development Manager Madelyn Long, with more than 17 years’ experience as a chamber professional. This brought our staff level to three. When Elaine left to work for Nonahood News, we added in July Communications and Marketing Manager Bethany Osborne, bringing her experience from the Panama City Beaches Chamber. We expect the necessity of continued staff growth as our membership continues its upward swing.
- Office Space – With an increased need for working and meeting space and the help of a partnership with GuideWell Innovation, we were able to increase our physical footprint by moving to the GuideWell Innovation Center in January 2018. Negotiations are in progress for more space and a more accessible location at GuideWell that we hope to occupy in February. We will let you know more as the situation develops.
- Board of Directors – The board took part in its first retreat and strategic planning meeting in January 2018. Much of the strategic plan is complete with the rest on hold until the next retreat this month. The board also formally organized supporting committees. These are Economic Development, Events, Finance, IT, Legal, Marketing, Membership, Programming, and Public Relations. A director appointed by the board chair heads each committee. The board also installed six new directors in December, bringing the total number of serving directors to 19.
- Bylaws – The board approved new bylaws prepared by the Legal Committee headed by Gary Salzman, Director and Legal Counsel. These bylaws are available for reference to any member who requests them.
- 2018 Events
- Monthly Events – During the year, we expanded our venues for our monthly events that include our Breakfast Connections, Business Luncheon, and First Tuesdays. Each of these events has grown on its merits as they continue to provide valuable information, training and networking opportunities. Highlight events in 2018 include appearances by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando District Commissioner Jim Gray, Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh along with presentations from the Orlando Municipal Airport Authority and the Central Florida Expressway Authority.
- Contagious Connections – These quarterly seminars bring the techniques of effective networking to our breakfast crowd. All four were well attended in 2018, and this series will continue in 2019.
- Nona Chamber Spring Festival – Held in March 2018 at Valencia Campus in Lake Nona, more than 1,200 persons attended this second annual Signature Event. Here, 60 of our members displayed their wares and services as the attendees enjoyed entertainment from the local schools and community associations.
- Taste of Nona – This sixth annual Signature Event was a red-carpet theme where more than 25 of our local restaurants and culinary providers supplied tasty food and drink. The Lake Nona Marriott & Residence Inn hosted this year’s event. More than 400 area residents and guests attended.
- Holiday Party and Membership Banquet – On Dec. 4, we enjoyed our first holiday party and banquet. About 120 members and guests enjoyed the outstanding hospitality of The Florida Hotel & Conference Center, where they consumed delicious banquet appetizers and drinks while also receiving a coupon book for discount shopping at Florida Mall. The short program recognized major contributors to this year’s success and introduced the new directors.
- Events – Look for more information as we complete planning and development for our 2019 Spring Festival and Taste of Nona. We also will continue to strive to bring you exciting and informative speakers and guests at our monthly events. As always, the Chamber website (www.lakenonacc.org) has an up-to-date calendar of our events.
- Ambassador Program – We will complete the organization and procedures for an ambassador program that will ensure new members feel welcome and existing members receive contact to encourage comments and suggestions that can come before the board or staff members.
- Time With the CEO – I plan to create a regularly scheduled monthly time when members can make appointments to sit down with me and/or directors to ask questions, make suggestions, or discuss chamber functions and plans.
- Office Space – We will complete arrangements for larger and more accessible office spaces for staff and members.
- Membership – We will continue the support and enthusiasm to grow membership to 400 by the end of 2019.