The board of the Valrico-FishHawk Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed its 200th member.

The Valrico-FishHawk Chamber of Commerce (VFCC) has a lot to celebrate this month. With membership numbers that recently passed 200 and networking and fundraising events planned, the group has established itself with an important role in the community.

“The chamber offers our members an opportunity to grow their business by allowing them to build relationships with like-minded business professionals,” said Paul Haskins, VFCC chairman.

Since its start five years ago with 11 members, the chamber has offered local businesses the chance to grow through multiple networking events, monthly meetings and frequent special events. New members are also given a free ribbon cutting that also allows them to upload images and link a video to an online profile on the group’s website.

“We are unique in the way that we are a non-profit who puts value in being able to help out our community and help businesses make relationships with each other, and not just a quick lead or referral,” said Haskins.

Haskins believes that one of the most important aspects of the chamber is it’s low membership fee.

“A lot of our members remember what it’s like starting their first business and trying to keep cost down,” he said. “We hope to provide them with that value of networking and a way to help them grow their business.”

Members range from one-person home-based businesses to large corporations, with a significant representation from the healthcare industry. Thirteen local non-profit groups and schools are also members.

The group also works hard to give back to the community with many charitable events each year including an annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfast in June and a college scholarship for a high school senior. In addition, each year the Chamber’s president chooses a charity to receive a large donation from members. Last year, they collected $3,110 for ECHO from donations at networking events.

“Our chamber is made up of volunteers who donate their time to help run this fantastic organization,” said Haskins. “By doing this, we keep our costs low as we feel every business owner needs a way to network with like-minded individuals without requiring a large marketing budget.”

The group is also holding a multi-chamber Margaritaville networking event at Watts Dental with a DJ, raffles, drinks and more on Friday, May, 18 from 6-8 p.m.

For info, visit www.valricofishhawk.org or call 438-4123.