By Paula MacDonald

The community center at Del Webb SouthShore Falls was filled to capacity, as 275 business and community leaders gathered for an island getaway-themed evening to celebrate a year of accomplishments at the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce membership and awards banquet. Established nearly three years ago in July 2011, the SouthShore Chamber was created through the merger of two historic area chambers, Apollo Beach and Ruskin. The merger has resulted in a stronger organization to better support the growing SouthShore business community, which continues southshore chamberto be one of the fast growing areas in Hillsborough County.

“You are the epicenter of all that will be happening in Hillsborough County,” explained County Commissioner, Sandy Murman. “SouthShore Chamber members do so much for the community and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.”

The highlight of the evening was the awards presentation, where businesses and chamber members were honored for their time and dedication to the community and the chamber in 2013. Honors were handed out to individuals and businesses in five categories:

2013 Volunteer of the Year – Mandy Burdick

2013 Ambassador of the Year – Charlotte Clark

2013 Small Business of the Year –Legal Shred, Owner Jason Fredericks

2013 Large Business of the Year – St. Joseph’s Hospital South

2013 E.G. Simmons Award – Tony Zipperer, Zipperer’s Funeral Home

In addition, a special award was presented to the Dickman family, Ruskin pioneers who were instrumental in the development of the Ruskin Chamber of Commerce in the 1920’s and construction of the first chamber offices in 1974. Through the Dickman family’s generosity, the chamber operated its facility rent-free for nearly 40 years. Also recognized was the winner of the Honorary SouthShore Mayor race, Shannon Brown, assistant director at Kids ‘R’ Kids SouthShore. Brown raised $7,000 for her Refuse to Lose Fund, established to honor her late husband, Aaron, who lost his battle with brain cancer in 2011.

Incoming chamber President, Carrie Elwell, accepted the gavel from past President, Ron Simpson, and inspired members to continue their good works in 2014. For more information, please call 645-1366 or visit


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