Each year Key West guesthouses, businesses and private homes compete for cash prizes in the Key West Chamber of Commerce Fantasy Façade Competition, with the winners selected by a panel of judges. This year for the first time a “Community Favorite” component was added, with the public invited to visit all 22 competition locations and then cast “Community Favorite” votes online.
The Ramsingh household at 2812 Staples Ave., took the most votes with their towering “Thriller on Staples” presentation and have scored a valuable prize package provided by Key West Chamber of Commerce members, with treats and treasures including a Hemingway Rum gift bundle, single-day passes for either Rokisland Fest, Mile O Fest, or Key Western Fest, a one night stay at Ocean’s Edge Resort, and gift certificates to Key Lime Bike Tours, Historic Tours of America, Key West Express, Little Whitehouse Subs, Tavern N Town, Benihana, La Trattoria, Mattheessen’s, Latitudes, Bistro 245, Yellowfin Bar & Kitchen at Ocean’s Edge Resort, McKee’s Tiki Bar at the Capitana Key West Resort, and Love In Bloom.
For more information on the annual contest visit www.FantasyFest.com.
Key West, FL — The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to announce that nominations for the prestigious ATHENA Award are officially open. This annual accolade, rooted in the ATHENA mission of supporting, developing, and honoring women leaders, recognizes outstanding individuals who exemplify excellence in their business or profession, contribute significantly to their community, and pave the way for women in leadership roles.
The ATHENA Award, a symbol of empowerment and achievement, is bestowed upon those who go above and beyond to make a difference in their chosen field and work tirelessly to create a more balanced and inclusive landscape for leadership on a global scale. This award not only acknowledges personal and professional accomplishments but also highlights the crucial role these leaders play in inspiring women to reach their full potential.
To qualify for consideration as an ATHENA Award recipient, nominees must demonstrate excellence, provide community service, hold a leadership role, demonstrate initiative and creativity towards the improvement of their community, and show support for the goals of professional women.
Nominations for the ATHENA Award are open until October 23, 2023. Nominators are encouraged to complete the Nomination Form, which will be used for the selection process. Self-nominations are also welcome. Please refrain from including additional supporting documents, as the award will primarily be judged based on the nominees' contributions to their business, profession, and community.
Applications for the ATHENA Award must be submitted to the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce using the provided Nomination Form. All submissions will be carefully reviewed by the ATHENA Award Committee.
"The ATHENA Award stands as a beacon of inspiration and recognition for women who have made exceptional contributions to their fields and communities," said [chamber rep] of the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce. "We invite everyone to participate in this celebration of remarkable women leaders by submitting nominations and helping us honor those who continue to shape our world."
For more information and to access the Nomination Form, please visit keywestchamber.org or contact the Chamber at 305-294-2587.
Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce to Hold June General Membership Meeting with Guest Speaker Dave Sobush with the Florida Chamber Foundation
The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce its upcoming General Membership Meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, June 28, 2023. The event will be held at the prestigious Opal Key Resort and Marina, located at 245 Front Street in the heart of Key West.
The highlight of the meeting will be a keynote address by Dave Sobush, CEcD Director of Research at the Florida Chamber Foundation. Mr. Sobush will share key metrics and insights from two vital resources: thefloridascorecard.org and floridagapmap.com. These platforms provide valuable information and data that demonstrate the progress made towards achieving the goals outlined in the Florida 2030 Blueprint.
As a respected expert in economic research and analysis, Mr. Sobush will shed light on the latest trends and advancements impacting the state's economic landscape. Attendees will gain invaluable insights into Florida's economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development, and more.
The General Membership Meeting offers an exceptional opportunity for chamber members and local business leaders to gather, network, and exchange ideas. It will serve as a platform for discussing the challenges and opportunities faced by the business community in Key West and the wider Florida region.
"We are delighted to welcome Dave Sobush as our guest speaker for this highly anticipated event," said Robert Goltz, Executive Vice President. "His expertise and knowledge will provide our members with valuable information to help them navigate and succeed in today's dynamic business environment."
The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce actively supports and promotes the interests of local businesses, fostering a prosperous economic climate in the Key West area. By hosting events like the General Membership Meeting, the Chamber aims to facilitate collaboration, foster growth, and provide valuable resources to its members.
The General Membership Meeting is open to all chamber members. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP in advance to secure their spot, as seating is limited.
For further information about the event or membership inquiries, please contact Kerry Baker at (305) 294-2587.
Key West Chamber of Commerce honors Karen Sharp with the Billy Appelrouth Award, a prestigious acknowledgment reserved only for chamber leaders that demonstrate its ideals and sacrifice personal time for the betterment of the community and its economy.
“While I often liken this award to MVP of the chamber, that fails to do it justice,” said Key West Chamber President Suzanne Moore. “This award recognizes a pinnacle of service that soars well above and far beyond the selflessness of volunteerism, in that every moment of dedication to the chamber is a personal choice to serve others.”
Sharp has served on several chamber committees including the Executive Board, Budget and Finance, Dues Committee, Economic Development, and Marketing and PR Committee before her election to the Board of Directors as Treasurer.
For the past two years, Sharp has reorganized financial policies including online bill pay and online event registration, assumed responsibility of finances and worked with staff during the transition of Executive Vice Presidents, and was instrumental in establishing the Key West Chamber Foundation which funds the Education Scholarship.
Sharp has served her profession and community with pride and passion for the past 40 years as an Event Lead of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, a volunteer at the Lower Keys Unit of the American Cancer Society since 1989, a former Board Member of Montessori Elementary Charter School, a graduate of Leadership Monroe County Class XII and as a former Board Member and Executive Committee Member of the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys. On a national level, Sharp has served as a Board member and Executive Committee Member of the Florida Bankers Association, a member of the Florida Keys Chapter of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the American Bankers Association, and the FDIC Regional Directors Advisory Board, as well as the Bank CEO Network.
“Karen has always shown unwavering support for the chamber by attending chamber functions and urging her staff to do the same as former President and CEO of First State Bank,” Moore said. “She has served and continues to serve on various committees, and we are proud to honor her with this distinguished award.”
The award named after William “Billy” Appelrouth operated a successful retail shop in the 600 block of Duval Street, surviving the Great Depression and remaining steadfastly dedicated to the overall improvement of island life. Mr. Appelrouth was a big part of the mercantile vitality of the island, and would lend himself to every facet of his community. He understood that if he was to live and receive from his island, it was also his obligation to give back to that community, which he did unflinchingly. Bill Appelrouth served an unprecedented three terms as chamber president of the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce. Members of Billy Appelrouth’s family were present at the chamber banquet, and graciously sponsored the complimentary cocktail hour that kicked off the elegant evening.
Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce announces 2023 Board of Directors led by Chamber President Diane Schmidt
The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce proudly introduces its board of directors and officers for 2023.
Diane Schmidt, of Opal Key West Resort & Marina, will serve as President of the Board, succeeding Suzanne Moore of Suzanne Moore Real Estate Services who will hold the position of Immediate Past President. The executive officers will include Greg Sullivan of Waste Management as First Vice President, Patricia Neyra of Neyra Construction, LLC as Second Vice President, Karen Sharp of First State Bank of the Florida Keys as Treasurer, and Andrew Morawski of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum as Secretary.
Also serving on the board are the following individuals: Casey Arnold of Conch Republic Seafood Company, Joe Caso of Caso & Co., David Clay of Lower keys Medical Center, Travis Doll of A&B Marina, George Fernandez of Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Van Fischer of VDF Law, Cara Higgins of Cara Higgins Law, Melissa Kendrick of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, Bill Lay of La Trattoria Venezia, Mark Rossi of Rick’s/Durty Harry’s, Andrew Rosuck of Casa Marina Resort, Amber Shaffer of Ocean Blue Galleries, Dr. Brittany Snyder of The College of the Florida Keys, John Toppino of Charley Toppino & Sons, Inc., and Jim Wilson of Appraisal Company of Key West.
The 2023 board of directors will focus on the mission of the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce: The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce works as a catalyst for business success, a convener of leaders, and a champion for a sustainable thriving community.
“The 2023 board of directors is a diverse group of talented business and community leaders from all over Key West and the surrounding area, and from a variety of industries representing our business community,” stated Chamber Executive Vice President Robert Goltz. “I am looking forward to working with this group of community leaders to build a stronger business community here in Key West.”
The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce will continue to build upon over 100 years of service and advocacy in Key West in keeping with our mission
The Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce honored several residents and local businesses who positively contribute to the City of Key West at their General Membership Meeting on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at the Opal Key Resort and Marina.
The award ceremony recognizes individuals, ventures, and projects that have helped make this community what it is over the past year. Included in the award presentations, we also celebrate employees from the City of Key West.
The Chamber is pleased to recognize the following from the City of Key West:
The Business for Beauty Award is given each year for major capital projects or extensive renovations that add to the beauty and contribute to the overall attractiveness of Key West. This year we are pleased to celebrate two businesses:
The Historic Preservation Award is presented for major projects focused on the renovation and preservation of historic buildings, commercial properties, and landmarks. This award was presented to:
The Venture Award is given for a bold investment in a new business or enterprise that exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit and adds to the Key West atmosphere. The winners were:
The Piece of the Rock award is presented to dedicated individuals who have clearly gone above and beyond the scope of their normal responsibilities to make Key West a better community through the years. Two individuals were recognized this year:
The City of Key West is grateful to the Key West Chamber of Commerce for the extraordinary opportunity to recognize City employees for their dedication. During the Chamber’s luncheon on December 14th, four people were recognized for their service to the community.
Public Works Foreman Oscar Ladino was named City Employee of the Year, an award sponsored by the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. City Manager Patti McLauchlin introduced the award, pointing out that Ladino is largely responsible for all of Duval Street and just about every event that happens in the city,
“In a year where we were short-staffed and asking everyone to do more with less, Oscar has risen to the challenge,” said McLauchlin. “With more and bigger events being thrown at him he has managed to make the process seamless to organizers and City staff alike. Oscar is an incredible asset to the Community Services Department and the City of Key West. His value as an employee cannot be overstated. We are extremely lucky to have had Oscar here for over 20 years.”
Capt. David Zarate was named Firefighter of the Year, an award sponsored by Keys Federal Credit Union. Capt. Zarate has been with the Key West Fire Department since 2003, and Emergency Manager Capt. Gregory Barroso noted that he has a passion for training his fellow firefighters and passing on the knowledge he’s gained.
“David has stepped up at every opportunity to act capably above his class as ommander in the absence of his supervisor,” said Capt. Barroso. “Most recently, during Hurricane Ian, David displayed extraordinary initiative while actively responding to the fire at 3201 Flagler Ave. That night, during intense weather conditions from the storm, acting-Commander David responded and directed over 25 men and women to control the fire. David’s leadership and effective response saved lives and other structures in the surrounding area.”
Key West Police Officer Andrea Bernatova was named Police Officer of the Year, an honor sponsored by Opal Key Resort and Marina. Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg noted in his introduction, that she speaks three languages, holds a Master’s Degree in economics, and sponsored her own attendance to the police academy. Many new officers garner sponsorship from local law enforcement, who pay a salary and for tuition. Officer Bernatova was determined. She is, he said, the kind of officer who he hopes to see in future leadership roles in the department.
“On her very first call,” said Chief Brandenburg, “she responded to a local hotel for a man having a medical emergency. She saved that man’s life, earning the Key West Police Department Life Saving Award. She is a well-rounded officer who frequently receives letters of recognition from the community for her compassion during calls to service. We are very lucky to have her on our team.”
The Chamber also recognized City Manager Executive Assistant Dorian Patton with their Key West Star Award for his selfless volunteer service to the community and local businesses.
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