Bernadette Pello received the Community Leadership Award for her strong leadership skills and positive impact that extended beyond the Greater Brandon area. (Photo credit: Photographer Jensen Taylor.)

By Madeline Gardner

On July 21, the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce conducted its annual Chamber Member Awards to celebrate the strength and growth of local businesses in the community. Hosted at The Regent in Riverview, nominees were invited that evening to recognize the success of leaders and outstanding businesses under the Roaring ’20s event theme.

“This is a great opportunity for businesses in our community to be recognized and celebrated by the chamber and other business leaders,” said Matt Lettelleir, president and CEO of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses that win see an increase in patronage, traffic and things like that.”

Awards offered were divided into different categories to distinguish the size, age and status of businesses nominated. The employee size distinction awards provide recognition for the success of a business relative to the number of employees on hand by certain intervals. This year’s winners included Master Garage Door Co. for one to five employees, Kilene Kelly Group for six to 20 employees and Livingstone Schools Inc. for more than 21 employees.

The Emerging Business Award is allocated to a chamber member who has been in business for less than three years, and this year’s winner was Just Love Coffee Cafe in Brandon. This year’s Nonprofit/Government Agency Award went to the Angel Foundation FL.

Tina Blount received the Leadership Brandon Impact Award, which acknowledges either a participant or leader in Leadership Brandon who has made valuable and impactful contributions over the past five years. Walt Raysick won the Key Citizen Award, which credits individuals who have devoted much of their time to multiple activities within the Brandon area for no less than five years. And Bernadette Pello received the Community Leadership Award, which emphasizes the recognition of strong leadership as well as efforts that extend beyond just the immediate Greater Brandon area.

Each nominee was required to give background information on the business, ranging from the legal structure to the annual percentage increase/decrease in revenue. From there, questions pertaining to the history, mission statement and goals of each business were to be answered. For awards allocated to individual leaders, an essay or resume had to be provided. Lastly, partnering with the Tampa chapter of SCORE, a third-party selection committee, businesses had to attend one of the four scheduled interview sessions to finalize the category winners for the actual ceremony.

While distinctions are made for each category, Lettelleir pointed out that there are common threads between the nominees.

“Businesses that have given back to the community, are strong and some household names in the area — I think that those are certainly some similarities between all the winners,” he said.

For more information on this event and the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, please visit or call 813-689-1221.

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