Award recipients celebrate with Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce officials and members at the May 8 ceremony at the Hillsborough Community College Brandon campus. (Photo credit: Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce.)

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister this month received the 2024 Greater Brandon Community Leadership Award at the annual awards dinner hosted by the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce.

Moreover, five business member awards and two student scholarships were presented on May 8 in the auditorium of the Brandon campus of Hillsborough Community College (HCC), where Amber Aaron, the chamber’s executive vice president, welcomed attendees and announced award finalists and event backers, including HCA Florida Brandon Hospital (presenting sponsor) and The Regent and HCC Brandon (diamond sponsors).

This year’s chamber chair, Steve Manning, owner of Master Garage Door Company, gave the invocation. The incoming chair is Edward Briggs, vice president of government and community affairs for RSA Consulting Group, founded in 2009 by lobbyist and past Chair Ron Pierce.

Scholarships named in posthumous memory of former chamber Chair Ernest Fernandez Jr., who at the time was called the president, were awarded to Brandon High School graduates Madison Rogers and Samantha Gonzalez. Rogers is set to study education and teaching at HCC. Gonzalez is set to pursue a career/technical trade at HCC. The $1,000 scholarship recipients were selected by the chamber’s education and business committee.

The winners in each of the five business categories stood out from the two finalists in each category, but there are no losers among the brave souls who run businesses in the Greater Brandon area and beyond, said Craig Beckinger, whose business, ABC Events, celebrated its 10-year anniversary on May 14 at The Regent.

“Regardless of whether you’re an emerging business or in business for 10 years or more, every business deserves recognition for the vital role they play in the local economy,” Beckinger said.

Beckinger presented the award for medium-sized business, in which RISE Dispensary and Siesta G, both in the cannabis dispensary business, were represented. The trophy went to RISE Dispensary, with Kanji Sushi & Ramen, located at 910 Providence Rd., the second finalist.

Shannon Keil, CEO of The Regent in Riverview, accepted the award on behalf of the 501(c)(4) enterprise, which won the best business award in the small business category. The runners-up were 2nd Amendment Armory and After Glow aesthetics & wellness.

Earlier, Keil presented the award for emerging business, which went to Skill Samurai, a coding and STEM academy at 931 E. Bloomingdale Ave. The restaurant QDOBA and JW Medical Aesthetics were category finalists.

Rounding out the awards, ARISE Church and Suncoast Credit Union took home the awards for nonprofit and large business, respectively. The large business finalists were Los Chapos Tacos and Walmart Health. The nonprofit finalists were Restoration & Purpose Community Outreach and Brandon High School. The town is “lucky to have so many amazing nonprofit organizations making a difference in the Greater Brandon area daily,” said HCC Brandon President Deborah Kish Stephan.

Liz Brewer, last year’s recipient of the Greater Brandon Community Leadership Award, stepped up to introduce Chronister as this year’s honoree. The award aims to recognize outstanding leadership skills and selfless giving and impact to the Greater Brandon area and beyond.

Chronister became the county’s top law enforcement officer in 2017, upon his appointment by Gov. Rick Scott. Scott was elected in 2018 and reelected in 2022. As of May 16, Chronister had raised $954,886 for his 2024 reelection campaign. To date, he faces one opponent, Gary Pruitt, a retired Tampa police corporal.

According to his online bio, Chronister, son of a World War II decorated Marine, “values partnerships, community outreach, training and professionalism” and “remains dedicated to advancing the sheriff’s office with a commitment to implementing technology advancements to better serve the public and keep deputies safe.”

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