Business owners in FishHawk Ranch, Valrico and Bloomingdale are invited to attend the organizational meeting of the Valrico/FishHawk Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting will be held today, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. at Beef O' Brady's 4330 Bell Shoals Rd., Valrico.
Business consultant Michael Holmes has been spent several months preparing for this debut meeting and is hoping for a big turnout.
"We could have 20 or 100 people show up," said Holmes. "But I'm hoping area businesses respond. I feel there's a big need for businesses in this area to have specific representation."
Holmes said the new chamber's goal is to be an advocate for area businesses on a wide range of issues including road improvements and traffic flow, issues that can make or break a small business.
"We’ve got some great chambers out there but nothing specifically for Valrico and FishHawk," said Holmes. "This is a rapidly growing area but businesses are having a hard time. We need to find a way to help these businesses grow."
Holmes said the current economic climate is especially difficult for home-based businesses, which don't have the visibility a storefront provides.
"FishHawk is 80 percent home-based businesses, and we need to bring more awareness to them," he said.
One way he plans to promote businesses is through the chamber's website, which will allow businesses to sell products directly to customers.
"The website is consumer driven," he said. "Customers can make a purchase through the website, kind of like an online shopping mall. Our goal is to make our businesses more competitive and customer service driven."
He added that the new chamber will be a nonprofit.
"Our goal isn’t to make money but to develop existing businesses," he said.
In addition to hosting a membership drive, Holmes said he is looking for business owners who are willing to serve on the chamber's board.
"We're building this from the ground up," he said. "Small businesses are what's going to grow our economy, and we want to make sure they have all the tools they need to be successful."
For information, visit the website or contact Holmes at 813-380-4392.