Sherell Bennett and Melanie Davis will work together to run the Greater SouthShore Chamber of Commerce. (Photo credit: Lois Kindle.)

The SouthShore and South Hillsborough chambers of commerce are set to merge as the Greater SouthShore Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, November 15.

SouthShore Chamber executive director Melanie Davis will serve as the director for the new Greater SouthShore Chamber of Commerce. The new 15-member board will consist of eight members of the South Hillsborough Chamber and seven members of the SouthShore Chamber.

Merging the chambers has been an idea for years but was just recently made possible.

Davis explained, “The South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors approached the SouthShore Chamber Board of Directors as they were exploring options for what their future would look like. A meeting was set for the two boards to sit down and discuss what a merger would look like, if at all possible.” 

Davis said merging the two chambers was relatively easy since both operate under similar principles, budgets and events, and they both communicated well during the process.

She will be assisted by the South Hillsborough executive assistant, Sherell Bennett. Bennett and Davis served together at the SouthShore Chamber years ago, so Davis said she was glad to hear they would be working together again.

“I think one of the most important things is to make the members understand that no community is going to lose their identity because of the merger, so you have to keep a strong presence in both communities when you merge,” Davis said.

South Hillsborough chairperson of the board of directors Kyle Belz said members will not feel too big of a change and should expect the same core events to continue through the Greater SouthShore Chamber of Commerce.

“We all want what’s best for our members and are real excited to present an organization that can be more of a force for the business community,” Belz said.

He said the merge will allow the chamber to reflect changes the community has seen over the past few years and offer more support for members.

“We feel this merge best represents the character of our business and surrounding communities and allows us to advocate with one unified voice for the Greater South Hillsborough County and the SouthShore commerce areas,” Belz said.

Both offices (Ruskin and Sun City Center) remain open for members and the community at this time.

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Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.