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What’s on the mind of the new St. Pete Chamber chair

Margie Manning

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Chris Steinocher (left), president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, with Anne Drake McMullen, immediate past chair, and Bill Kent, chairman of the Board of Governors

There’s a new chair at the helm of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.

Bill Kent was installed as the 2019 chair of the board of governors at the chamber’s annual meeting Jan. 24. Kent is president and chief financial officer of George F. Young Inc., a St. Petersburg-based consulting firm with engineering, real estate and other services.

Kent succeeds Anne Drake McMullen, chief development officer at Doyle Wealth Management, as chair.

St. Pete Catalyst checked in with Kent and McMullen on the leadership shift.

St. Pete Catalyst: What are the highlights you are most proud of?

McMullen: We told the St. Pete story.

Anne Drak McMullen

  • Being a “purple” community who is not defined by red or blue labels, but stand firm that we are partisans for St. Petersburg.
  • Proud of the number of people chambering including our 150-plus Young Professionals who put in over 1,000 service hours; the Leadership St. Pete class of 40 and the 40 planning committee members who raised over $100,000 for Sailfuture while building their relationships and passion for our city; the 50-plus entrepreneurs we graduated at the BB&T and Florida Print Solutions Entrepreneur Academies; and the more than 70 Ambassadors who called on our new members and attended over 78 ribbon cuttings to welcome new members to the community.
  • Advancing an intense focus on diversity and inclusion through our Grow Smarter Strategy, and building on the legacy of the leaders who came before us to witness the most diverse Chamber board, executive committee, Leadership St. Pete class, Entrepreneurial Academy Class, and Policy Committees in the history of the Chamber, including my term of office as the fourth woman chair in the Chamber’s 120-year history.

During McMullen’s term, the Chamber added 316 new members. Two collaborative efforts with the city of St. Petersburg also grew in 2018. The Greenhouse, a small business development initiative, served 3,286 entrepreneurs, and Grow Smarter, a process to support quality and diverse economic growth, received a $1.2 million grant from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg.

St. Pete Catalyst: What are you most looking forward to as the new chair?

Bill Kent

Kent: I look forward to the launching of Chamber Next. Chamber Next is the process our members and leadership will use to guide us for the strategic plan from 2020 to 2025.  We’ll bring it back to next year’s annual meeting.

St. Pete Catalyst: What events or issues you are looking forward to taking on?

Kent: We will have our first St. Pete Day in Tallahassee on March 20, to ensure our state leaders understand that St. Pete is a driver in the state and regional economy.

The Chamber plans a legislative preview on Feb. 15, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Green Bench Brewing. Chamber members will have a chance to hear from Pinellas County elected officials and learn what’s on their radars for the 2019 legislative session, as well as share the Chamber’s legislative agenda with them.

At the annual meeting, Bill Edwards, a real estate and entertainment business leader, was awarded the inaugural Legacy of Leadership award. Ronnell Montgomery, who was vice chair of the Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board, was named Member of the Year.

Member of the Year was awarded to Ronnell Montgomery for her leadership as vice chair of the St. Pete Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board.

Bill Edwards received the St. Pete Chamber’s inaugural Legacy of Leadership award.

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