Manatee Chamber of Commerce flexes muscle with membership ranking

Little ol' Manatee County knows how to beat the big boys, besting Hillsborough, Pinellas and all the other Tampa Bay counties in a key measure of business networking and collaboration that leads to economic development. The Manatee Chamber of Commerce again holds the distinction as the largest chamber in the region with 2,004 businesses and organization as members.

The Tampa Bay Business Journal published the list of top chambers last week. Lakeland, Sarasota, Greater Tampa and Greater Brandon rounded out the top five.

Manatee business community is strongly united to achieving success in all manner of endeavors with a chamber dedicated to serving its members. That drive is reflected in major honors, winning the inaugural National Chamber of the Year Award and Florida Chamber of the Year Award three times.

As articulated by President Bob Bartz, the chamber's goal is straightforward: "... to support local businesses while effectively working to make Manatee County the best place to live, work, play and run your business."

One of the vital cogs in the chamber's success and growth has been Marie Pender, the longtime vice president of membership development and services. She announced her retirement this week after almost 23 years with the chamber, all but a few months in that veep role.

Kudos to the chamber and business community for their work toward improving the county's quality of life. And kudos to Marie Pender for her decades of service to both.