Our Area Councils are slowly starting to test the waters with small, socially-distanced in-person events. Last week the Downtown Kissimmee Area Council hosted our friends from the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida at Kissimmee Lakefront Park for a Chamber-to-Chamber Evening of Networking. The goal was to bring AACCCF’s regional membership base to see what Kissimmee has to offer and find new businesses with which to work and form partnerships, and for DKAC members to broaden their list of Black-owned and operated businesses in Central Florida with whom they can work and do business.
Over the summer, when racial tensions were high, the DKAC was looking for ways to patronize Black-owned businesses in our community. Since that is not a metric that the Chamber or the City typically track, the board got creative to find ways to bring Black business owners in Kissimmee and its surrounding areas, those who are making an effort to work with Black-owned businesses, and those working to expand their knowledge of our larger community, together. Obviously, the pandemic posed its own set of challenges, but in the end a small evening networking affair seemed the way to go.
LaVell Monger of RTW Photography, who is a member of both Chambers, put in months of creative thinking, along with other DKAC board members and Chamber staff, to put a fun spin on the evening – and it paid off! Even with a limited capacity, turnout was great. Excellent catering was provided by the students of Florida Technical College, who were glad to again have an opportunity to gain experience in the field. Attendees enjoyed round robin-style speed networking that helped everyone break the ice and meet new people. The weather was nice, and all-in-all this was a great first step back to in-person activities.
Both Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber President/CEO John Newstreet and AACCCF President Tanisha Nunn Gary were present and had the opportunity to address attendees. Tanisha summarized the evening well in stating, “The African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida is proud to have joined forces with the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber of Commerce to host the Chamber to Chamber networking mixer. Floridians look to support small, local, and diverse businesses now more than ever. What better way to continue to stand firm in providing resources, advocacy, and opportunities for sustenance than to create a *socially distanced* space for members to mingle and generate business? The member feedback has been phenomenal and we look forward to a continued partnership with the Kissimmee/Osceola Chamber. We are better and stronger together!”
John added, “During this past year it has become more obvious than ever that our small businesses thrive on connection and support from community and fellow businesses. This event is a great example of coming together to support small businesses and forge partnerships with those for whom it is their mission to do so. We look forward to continuing this partnership with the AACCCF and creating more opportunities to bring people, and business, together.”
A few other area councils are planning small in-person ventures soon. ORAC will have a tourism industry mixer at Old Town on March 10, and the Celebration Area Council plans something similar for early April. If you prefer to stay distanced, please join the Poinciana Area Council in creating your own work of art from the comfort of home at their Virtual Paint Night on March 5.