History of the North Tampa Chamber of Commerce

  • Updated in 2008 by Carol Rehfelt - Past President
  • Updated in 1999 by Ron Gauszka - Past President and Chamber Historian

In April of 1947, a handful of business people interested in the future of Sulphur Springs (which pretty much was North Tampa in those days), organized the Sulphur Springs Chamber of Commerce. The meeting was called to discuss a fire control district in Sulphur Springs. As Senator Sheldon was unable to attend the meeting, the group decided to use the opportunity to officially form a Chamber of Commerce. They had informally discussed this on several occasions. Mr. J. L. Young was appointed temporary chairman and the first official meeting was held on April 4, 1947, at the American Legion Hall on Bird Street.

The encyclopedia definition of a Chamber of Commerce is "An association sponsored by businessmen to promote the mercantile interest of their city and community." During its 52 years of existence, the North Tampa Chamber of Commerce has served its community far beyond this interpretation. As a matter of fact, a better definition of the North Tampa Chamber would be: An organization of people who care about their community and each other.

Aside from the many ways our Chamber has helped promote business interests, it has always been aware of a responsibility to the community as a whole. A list of accomplishments would include:

  • Physically building and installing street markers.
  • Seeing that traffic lights were properly installed.
  • In the 50's, operated Sulphur Springs Pool and held a week long celebration of Tampa's Centennial.
  • August 26, 1965 - North Tampa Chamber held a luncheon meeting to welcome the General Managers of two major industries building plants in the North Tampa area, Minneapolis Honeywell Regulator Co. and Reynolds Metals.
  • January 26, 1967 - City Council approved replacement of Sulphur Springs pool pavilion. The new $60,000 building was built by the North Tampa Chamber of Commerce. The building was completed in 1968 and donated to the City of Tampa in 1982.
  • July 18, 1968 - North Tampa Chamber publicly endorsed the stand taken by Mayor Greco in the matter of pay raises for the employees of the City Sanitation Department.
  • In 1971, raised $5000 which was intended for building a Boys Club. This money was eventually donated to the Sertoma Youth Ranch. Today a plaque at the youth ranch stage reads "Donated by the North Tampa Chamber of Commerce in honor of Francis Dean and Richard Cheney two of our past presidents."
  • May 20, 1971 - North Tampa Chamber hosted a meeting of area Chambers of Commerce. The purpose of the meeting was to announce a program designed to encourage, and build the morale of our guardians of society, our law officers.
  • In 1975, fought to save the Sulphur Springs Arcade. The building was eventually torn down.

Has recognized students of the month at local schools.In recent times, the North Tampa Chamber of Commerce:

  • Honored the outstanding ROTC student at Hillsborough High School and supplied the saber, which is the highest honor bestowed on these students.
  • Was instrumental in obtaining the police sub station and community center.
  • At its membership meeting in December of 1994, the North Tampa Chamber initiated its Police Officer of the Month program. The North Tampa Chamber was the first local Tampa area chamber of commerce to honor the men and women of the Tampa Police Department. The first officer to receive this award was Officer Mark A. Yost.
  • In 1996, the chamber supplied fifty percent of the businesses involved in the Adams Youth Connection, a program designed to help middle school students who had been involved in the criminal justice system to get back on track. Was named the 1996 Business Partner of the Year by Adams Jr. High.
  • In 1997, The North Tampa Chamber of Commerce became involved in a tourism marketing effort which included Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), The Lowry Park Zoo and the Florida Aquarium. The project was funded by a grant from the Tourist Development fund. The chamber was a major sponsor of this project, donating $14,000, to the Tampa Trio. The chamber also began a grass roots effort to beautify our roads such as Busch Boulevard between the Interstate and Busch Gardens.

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