St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Honors Business Leaders and inducts new Chairperson at Annual Awards Ceremony CELEBRATE
The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce held its CELEBRATE Annual Awards Ceremony Wednesday night, November 15, 2023, where various business leaders who made their mark in the community this year were recognized. The event, which over 200 guests attended, was held at the Treasury on the Plaza in historic St. Augustine. Six business leaders were recognized for their dedication to St. Johns County and the community in which they live.
“The award recipients have distinguished themselves through contributions advancing the Chamber, its members, or our business community and local economy as a whole. This year’s recipient list is impressive, and a testimonial of the favorable economic growth St. Johns County is experiencing. Congratulations to this year’s awardees!” said Chamber President and CEO Isabelle Renault.
Sean Rotolo with Oxifresh Carpet Cleaning was presented with the Marty Lewis Ambassador of the Year Award. The Chamber Ambassadors are volunteers who assist with welcoming new members and visiting renewing members each year. The award is decided by the Ambassadors themselves, and among the finalists are Robin Burchfield of St. Augustine Youth Services and David Permenter of Generation Media.
This year, Isabelle Renault gave out President’s Awards to two very inspirational people who have assisted the Chamber in growing significantly. The first President’s Award was given to Erika Alba, an attorney with Woolsey/Morcom, who has been instrumental in assisting the Chamber in the process of establishing the St. Johns County Chamber Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit. Alba donated a considerable amount of time and professional expertise in nonprofit law over the past year to guide the Chamber in making the beginnings of the Foundation something that will help the community for years to come.
The second President’s Award was given to Stephen Hudson of the Digital Mark Company. Not only was Hudson instrumental in helping the Chamber start its North Business Council, he represented small business interests on the Board of Directors, served as treasurer on the executive committee, assisted with the changes that COVID-19 gave businesses, and assisted the Chamber in restructuring its services by executing a membership survey and ensuring a record response rate. He is currently serving as the Chair of the Autism Certification Grant Review Committee, reaching out to tourism and hospitality businesses to help them understand how our community could benefit from being certified to market our destination as an autism-certified destination for visitors.
The Small Business of the Year award went to Trudy Toche. Trudy was recently named the number one salesperson in the country for Mary Kay. She has spent the last 19 years building her business and empowering others. Small businesses are the backbone of the Chamber and represent over 80% of the membership.
The Fred Schroeder Economic Development Council award was presented to the PGA Tour Studios. This award is given to a business that made a significant investment in St. Johns County with the expansion of its business and the addition of jobs. This state-of-the-art 165,000-square-foot facility will feature seven studios, eight control and voice-over rooms, four edit finishing rooms, and audio post rooms. It is not an understatement that this facility will bring golf to the world. Accepting the award was Luis Goicouria, Senior Vice President of Media for the PGA Tour.
The Chamber Member of the Year Award was presented to UF Health St. Johns. The merger of Flagler Health + and UF Health was a significant step in the enhancement of healthcare in St. Johns County. With anticipated investment in existing facilities as well as the launch of the Durbin Park Campus construction, UF Health St. Johns will be positioned to meet the growing needs of our community for decades to come. Accepting the award for UF Health St. Johns was Carlton Devooght, CEO.
The event concluded with the passing of the gavel ceremony from Immediate Past Chair Beth Sweeny with Flagler College to the 2023 – 2024 Chamber Chair Berta Odom with RE/MAX Realty 100. Odom has been serving on the Chamber Board since 2019 and last year was the Vice Chair of the Chamber. She serves as the Chairperson for the St. Johns County Realtor Political Action Committee, is a member of City of St. Augustine Beach Planning and Zoning, and is a member of the St. Johns County Board of REALTORS, Florida Association of REALTORS, and the National Association of REALTORS.