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Bloomingdale Attorney to Lead Brandon Chamber

Bob Bivins will take the reins as chairman of the Greater Brandon Chamber Commerce at the annual dinner Friday night.

His is a familiar name in the area.

Not only is Bob Bivins a local attorney, the founding and managing partner of , 1060 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, in Plaza Bella, but he's active with the Brandon area YMCAs, serving as chairman of the board for both the Brandon Family and Campo YMCAs.

He also serves as vice president of the Brandon Brain Injury Foundation, which hosted a successful Toast the Decades fundraiser at O'Brien's Irish Pub on Oct. 21, is a graduate of Leadership Brandon, the chamber's leadership program, is the volunteer attorney for the Greater Brandon Community Foundation and an active member of the Tampa Optimist Club.

Now the Lithia resident will lead the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce as chairman. He will accept the chairman's gavel Friday, Feb. 3, at the chamber's annual dinner and awards ceremony at , 6437 Watson Rd., Riverview, from 6:15-9:30 p.m. 

The cost to attend the annual dinner is $50 for members, $75 for nonmembers.

Bivins takes over from outgoing chairwoman Melissa Snively, a Bloomingdale East resident and owner of Melissa Snively State Farm Insurance in FishHawk Ranch.

A third-generation Tampa Bay resident, Bivins' practice focuses on commercial, business law and real estate transactions.

He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of South Florida in 1982 and a law degree with honors from the University of Florida in 1985.

He served as editor-in-chief of the University of Florida Law Review in 1985 and went on to work as a law clerk for Chief Justice Parker Lee of the Florida Supreme Court from 1985-87.

In both 2009 and 2010, he was named a Florida Super Lawyer.

As a small businessman who specializes in helping small businesses, Bivins said it's the small business that has the most to gain with a chamber membership.

"One of the jobs I do as an attorney is to advise start-ups and help them with challenges they’re facing," said Bivins. "I try to remind people that this community is more relationship driven than any place I’ve ever lived before. People want to help each other and we’re all stronger standing together. The key in this economy is to not feel defeated, to get up and brush yourself off and look for education and resources you need and one of the best places to do that is the chamber."

As chairman, one of Bivins' goals is to make sure the chamber is doing everything possible to meet the needs of its 1,300 members, most of which are small businesses.

"It’s such a valuable resource to small businesses that don’t know where else to turn," he said. "If you really take advantage of what the chamber has to offer, there’s so much in there that can help a business having its struggles. I hope more of our businesses out there remember that."

He also advised small businesses to give back to the community.

He recalls one hot December when he was posing as Santa Claus for a YMCA outreach to migrant families.

"It was the hottest December I can remember, and I was praying my makeup stayed on," he said. "But what was really interesting to me is these kids didn't want video games or expensive toys. They just wanted food and maybe a doll. It occurred to me how important it is to give a child a hand up, a chance to be on par with everyone else. It really does make a huge difference in the future of our community."

Besides, said Bivins, giving back just makes good business sense.

"It’s huge. What you give comes back to you in spades," he said. "One of reasons I love ths community is that people pay attention to who’s involved and who works to help those in need, and they tend to do business with those businesses and help them when they need help."

Awards and Honors

In addition to welcoming Bivins as the new chamber chairman, the chamber will announce the winner of its Key Citizen of the Year award at the annual banquet. The award is presented each year to a person who shows unselfish devotion to the community by contributing time to nonprofit organizations. The recipient must have five years of continuous involvement in a variety of community activities.

Last year's recipient was lifelong Brandon resident Becky Jordan. A past honorary mayor of Brandon, Jordan is involved in the Brandon Emergency Care Help Organization, the Brandon Outreach Clinic, the Brandon Service League, New Horizons Group Homes, LifeCare of Brandon and the Boy Scouts of America.

Snively will review the chamber's accomplishments over the year including the chamber's 5-Star Accrediation by the United States Chamber of Commerce. In November, the Brandon chamber became one of only 75 of the 6,936 chambers of commerce in the United States to have earned the prestigious 5-Star designation.

Accreditation means that the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce is recognized as offering quality programs, practicing sound organization procedures and contributing to positive change in the community.

“This past year, each of us spent many hours completing the accreditation process," said Snively. "Our task was to demonstrate competency in nine core areas: governance, finance, human resources, government affairs, program development, technology, communications, facilities and benchmarking. The result of our hard work is evidenced by this impressive rating. We should all be extraordinarily proud of this milestone achievement."

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