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Lake Nona Canvas Restaurant and Market - provided by Lake Nona
Lake Nona Canvas Restaurant and Market - provided by Lake Nona
Lake Nona Glass House - provided by Lake Nona
Lake Nona Glass House - provided by Lake Nona

THE HISTORY OF THE LAKE NONA CHAMBER

Most chambers of commerce are organized as not-for-profit membership organizations whose goals are usually focused on business development and positive growth within a certain region, business type or ethnic group.

Chambers of Commerce are not government organizations though most strive to maintain influential positions in business, residential and government arenas.

The Lake Nona Regional Chamber of Commerce mission is, “To serve the Lake Nona Region by promoting commerce and providing resources for the benefit of our members and the community”.

The Lake Nona Regional Chamber of Commerce was created in 2013 by a volunteer board of directors.

From then until May of 2017 the Chamber ran under their direction. During that time, they made significant progress including growing the membership to 160 business members, the establishment of several standing Board of Directors committees, and the successful creation of both monthly and annual signature events.

The first administrative coordinator was hired by the Board of Directors in May 2017 and a physical office space rented shortly after.

The Board of Directors hired a CEO, Don Long presently serving, on December 1, 2017. That was followed shortly after by the addition of a second administrative coordinator in January.

The chamber is a member of the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals and the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

A Board of Directors governs the employee staff and the Chamber operates as an IRS 501c6 corporation.

Town Center by Lake Nona
Town Center by Lake Nona
Orlando VA Medical Center-Lake-Nona
Orlando VA Medical-Center Lake Nona by Lake Nona
Lake Nona Wave Hotel by Lake Nona Wave Hotel
Lake Nona Wave Hotel by Lake Nona Wave Hotel

 

OUR FOUNDER

Lidya Mitic Gongage of Spring Realty is the founder of the Lake Nona Chamber of Commerce (As it was known beginning of 2013).  Her love of the area and her knowledge and seeing the lack of organization on the part of any other chamber brought on this dream.

If Lidya was the dream maker Daniel Rudez (a family friend from childhood) and a young attorney specializing in government affairs was the hand that got the paperwork and the mechanicals started.

Our first meeting was at the model home of Philip Bressler owner of upscale Rutenberg Homes in Lago Bella. Hector Torrez owner of All Floors and one of the most enthusiastic people I know and Steven Gongage our IT brains got our first meeting started on February 12, 2013.

To our surprise the place was full and the enthusiasm for the chamber huge.  What a wonderful surprise to us all. I will never forget driving up to this beautiful home and finding the street full of cars.

After the meeting Lidya was elected first president and we start our monthly meetings. Sean Gerlin, Alex Piazza and Theodora Uniken joined the board soon after.

Our first event The Taste of Lake Nona 2013 was scheduled for September of that year.  Mary Noviello a Realtor with Kumba Realty took over getting the party organized.  Village Walk opened their doors for Taste which was a huge event. We could never have been as successful as we were without their help.  Valerie in particular was a miracle worker.   We had about 20 fine restaurants, a band, children’s events and festivities and an auction.  Our charity for that year was the Children’s Home on Narcoossee Rd.

Daniel created our bylaws and he got the application going for our nonprofit organization.  It was during this time that we received the first letter from Tavestock and after many months of discussions with them we voted to have the name changed to Lake Nona Regional Chamber of Commerce to appease them.

2014 we sponsored a spring event on the ground of Eagle Creek.  We decided then that this was the perfect venue for our membership, which at the time was around 50 to showcase their business.  We charged $200 per table.  It was also a great time for including children and we had a carnival type of set up for them.

Fall of 2014 we also hosted Taste 2014 at Eagle Creek.  This event was also a huge success with about 22 vendors and about 250 guests.  The location was terrific for that size group and our charity for that year was Back to Nature.

Nelson Freitas joined the chamber the second year and we elected him president for the 2015 – 2016 term.  We decided that a president should have a two year term.  Tavistock which had been friendly to us while the event was on the 32827 zip code was not that happy the event was held in the 32832 area.  Unfortunately, there was very little space anywhere else and Village Walk could not host our event any longer due to crowds and parking.

Omar Hickman joined the board and he opened the doors for us to host the 2015 event at the new Marriott Courtyard opening in the Medical City.  Since this was a last minute event he did everything on line and what a terrific job he did.  Thank you Omar.  Our charity for that year was Ronald McDonald House

It was also 2015 that two other wonderful people joined the board.  Belinda Brown and Brigitte Dagot.  These two ladies took charge and brought the chamber to the next level.

The Lake Nona Regional Chamber of Commerce was created in 2013 by a volunteer board of directors. From then until May of 2017 the Chamber ran under their direction. During that time, they made significant progress including growing the membership to 160 business members, the establishment of several standing Board of Directors committees, and the successful creation of both monthly and annual signature events.

The first administrative coordinator was hired by the Board of Directors in May 2017 and a physical office space rented shortly after.