Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce award finalists make a champagne toast before the award announcements on June 8 at the Hillsborough Community College Brandon campus.

Five awards in a field of 13 finalists highlighted the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony, held on June 8 at the Brandon campus of Hillsborough Community College.

Compelling were the video shorts of winners and finalists, which collectively allowed for a deeper understanding of the missions, programs, offerings and wins advanced and realized by award nominees.

Dr. Stephen Parks, for example, talked about the “thousands of patients” and “thousands of hours of free medical care” given to people who don’t have medical insurance at the Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center, which relies both on donations and on pro bono work from doctors.

Brad Gregory, at the helm of A Kid’s Place of Tampa Bay, a shelter for abused, abandoned and neglected children, said it’s important to keep brothers and sisters together in traumatic situations.

“It’s a win,” he added, “that of the 2,000 children we have served, almost 1,500 of them are part of sibling groups.”

The videos preceded business awards given to Carole Gill Consulting, in the small business category; Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center, in the small nonprofit category; Cherry Blow Dry Bar, in the medium business category; Florida Trade Academy, in the emerging business category; and High 5 Inc., in the large nonprofit category.

When asked why she chose to open her business in the Greater Brandon area, Cherry Blow owner Amanda Holden said, “I think Brandon chose me.”

Holden said friends told her, “‘Oh, Brandon, it’s not really built up, it’s not somewhere you want to go.’ I knew right away they were wrong. I had so much success here, I found so many connections, I’ve been welcomed in a way that I was never welcomed before.”

The award finalists were ABC Events and Reliable Livescan, in the small business category; Center Place Fine Arts & Civic Association and the Hillsborough County Fair Association, in the small nonprofit category; 100% Chiropractic, in the medium-sized business category; A Kid’s Place, in the large nonprofit category; and 2nd Amendment Armory and Veteran Approved Network (VAN), in the emerging business category.

The Brandon Chamber recognized also 2023 community award recipients, including for the Key Citizen Award, selected by past recipients of that distinct honor. Former Hillsborough County school board member Melissa Snively, past chamber chair and past recipient of the Greater Brandon Community Leadership Award, follows in the footsteps of veteran Walt Raysick, the 2022 Key Citizen recipient.

Liz Brewer, executive director of the Angel Foundation FL, which won the 2022 business award for nonprofit government, received the 2023 Greater Brandon Community Leadership Award. That award in 2022 was won by Bernadette Pello, past chamber chair, who with her husband, Chris, and their partners, Jeff Stone and Chuck Burgess, recently launched Florida Trade Academy. The academy won the 2023 business award for emerging businesses. The Pellos in 2022, for Livingstone Academy, won the award for businesses with more than 21 employees.

Livingstone has locations in Seffner, Riverview, Valrico and Brandon, where it operates out of High 5 Inc. on Beverly Boulevard, at which Burgess, past chamber chair, serves as CEO.

Tina Blount, who won the 2022 Leadership Brandon Impact Award, presented the 2023 award to Leadership Brandon Class of 2020 alumnus Steve Manning. His business, Master Garage Door Co., won the 2022 business award for companies with one to five employees. Manning co-chaired and chaired the Leadership Brandon classes of 2021 and 2022, respectively.

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