The Southwest Florida community came together to recognize local businesses and leaders for their outstanding contributions to the greater Fort Myers community at the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Chamber Awards, held Aug. 11 at Pelican Preserve in Fort Myers.
The program featured an award ceremony and gourmet dinner to honor the dozens of nominees and 12 finalists before naming six honorees for their impact. The inaugural Chamber Awards recognized recipients in the following categories:
- Small Business of the Year was awarded to Fort Myers Brewing Company. Co-owners Rob and Jen Whyte founded Lee County’s first microbrewery, Fort Myers Brewing Company, nearly 10 years ago and have since transformed a hobby into a successful, community-minded business. Its brews are poured at over 1,000 locations and the brewery is the fifth busiest taproom by volume in the state.
- Large Business of the Year was presented to Sanibel Captiva Community Bank. Sanibel Captiva Community Bank prides itself on being a good corporate citizen. The company supports over 300 community causes through donations, pro bono work and volunteerism, and has given back more than $2.4 million dollars since opening in 2003.
- The Community Impact Award was awarded to Teri Hansen, founder, president and chief creative officer of Priority Marketing. Hansen is a Fort Myers native and has shared her success in business with her hometown. Celebrating 30 years in business, Hansen has led Priority Marketing in contributing nearly $4 million in pro-bono or discounted services to help support nonprofit missions and fundraising while also personally supporting many nonprofit and industry associations.
- Entrepreneur of the Year was presented to Troy Churchill, CEO and president of Cypress Living. Churchill was recognized for his passion for older adult living and his leadership as the driving force behind the successful rebranding of Cypress Living, leading the Cypress family of companies and preparing for the future of senior living in Southwest Florida.
- The Nonprofit Excellence Award was awarded to Hope Healthcare. The nonprofit’s mission is to improve the quality of life for every person experiencing serious illness by providing exceptional, comforting care and choices that give hope and meaning to every moment. Programs offer a comprehensive continuum of care to more than 3,000 people every day in Southwest Florida.
- Young Professional of the Year was presented to Maria Espinoza, executive director of F.I.S.H. of SanCap. Espinoza leads the human services organization in its mission to enrich the lives of all people in Sanibel and Captiva Islands by neighbors helping neighbors with social services, education and assistance and regularly volunteers her personal time in support of local service organizations.
“Southwest Florida is home to many incredible businesses and leaders that make our region a great place to live, work and raise a family,” said Brian Hamman, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. “We were thrilled to recognize several of these individuals and organizations through our inaugural Chamber Awards, and we thank all who contributed to making this time of celebration such a success.”
Sponsors of the inaugural event included B2 Technology Solutions, Boston Red Sox, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, CopyLady, CONRIC pr + marketing, Cypress Living, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, Dragon Horse Agency, Evolution Design House, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva, Inc., Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida Heart Associates, Florida Weekly, Fort Myers Brewing Company, Inceptus, Markham Norton Mosteller Wright and Company, P.A., M&M Multimedia, Pool Pro’s Inc., Posh Baby Equipment Rentals, Priority Marketing, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, Solomon & Hoover, Southern Oak Wealth Management and Stevens Construction.