THE HISTORY OF THE LAKE NONA CHAMBER
OUR MISSION -
To serve the Lake Nona Region by promoting commerce and providing resources for the benefit of our members and the community.
History as written by Lidya Mitic-Gongage: 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.
The 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 Steven Gongage the IT brains got the first meeting started on February 12, 2013.
To their surprise the place was full and the enthusiasm for the chamber huge.
After the meeting Lidya was elected first president and started monthly meetings. Sean Gerlin, Alex Piazza and Theodora Uniken joined the board soon after.
The Chamber continued to grow slowly and during 2013 the board reached an agreement with Tavistock Development Company allowing the use of the name Lake Nona Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Nelson Freitas joined the chamber the second year and was elected as the second president serving for the 2015–2016 term. Nelson was followed by Belinda Brown 2017, Andrea Byrge 2018-2019, Sean Gerlin 2020-2021, Terri Turner 2021-2022 and the presently serving chair Brandy Bennett.
The first administrative coordinator, Elaine Vail, 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 November 1, 2017. That was followed shortly after by the addition of Madelyn Long as Membership Manager in January 2018.
Today: Presently LNRCC usually employs three to five employees to support its mission.
Today LNRCC organizes five monthly informational and networking events, usually five or more new member ribbon cuttings per month, and organizes an annual golf tournament, annual Spring Festival and an annual Holiday Party.
With its growth to more than 460 business members including 28 partner participants LNRCC enjoys the respect of the community and the support of the local governments.
The chamber is a member of the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.