Assn. of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Executive Committee chair Carlos Phillips (far left) and ACCE president & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly (far right) pose with (l.-r.) membership director Jen Tussing, president & CEO Hope Kennedy & foundation chair Michael Berthelette of the North Tampa Bay Chamber, at the ACCE awards event last month, where the NTBC was again a finalist for Chamber of the Year. (Photo provided by Hope Kennedy).

Both this year and last, the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce (NTBC) has been named one of three finalists for Chamber of the Year in its category by the nationwide Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE).

Both years, the NTBC has come up short of winning the award, but that’s not stopping this busy chamber or its leadership team. “Win or lose, it’s such an honor to be a finalist, and no other chamber in any of the four categories was named a finalist the last two years,” says NTBC President and chief executive officer Hope Kennedy. “It was hard for us to come home without the top prize again, but we’re still so proud of the work we’ve done and the successes we’ve had.”

Kennedy says the application process, which the NTBC has gone through “for each of the last ten years or so, is extensive and difficult,” as the ACCE has more than 1,800 member chambers of commerce and business organizations of all sizes and locations across the country.

Kennedy also notes that the NTBC also was again the finalist with the smallest paid staff (just two — Kennedy and membership director Jen Tussing). By comparison, the Pearland (TX) Chamber, which won this year’s award in the NTBC’s Category 1 (for chambers with less than $500,000 in annual revenues), has a staff of six.  

Neither current NTBC Board chair Justin Keeney, the VP and senior portfolio manager of Fifth Third Bank, or immediate past chair Javan Grant of Slater Grant, was able to travel to Salt Lake City for this year’s ACCE 2023 Awards Ceremony on Aug. 1, so foundation chair and 2021 Board chair Michael Berthelette of Platinum Salon made the trip with Kennedy and Tussing.

“Even some of the larger Chambers in our area — including the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce — have applied to be Chamber of the Year the last two years without even being named a finalist,” Kennedy says. “We take a lot of pride in what we do and what we have accomplished.”

How You Can Get Involved!

Although being a finalist for Chamber of the Year is a big honor and is based on a variety of factors — including membership retention, advocacy, community involvement and more — the bottom line is that the NTBC also exists to help small businesses. 

The Chamber features a variety of ongoing activities, including the following:

• Breakfast-1st Tues. of each month

• Luncheon-2nd Tues. of each month

• Leading Ladies Network (formerly 

   WOW)-1st Fri. of each Month

• Final Friday-Last Fri. of each month

• Coffee Social-3rd Wed. of each Month

• Member Orientation-4th Wed. of each mo.

The NTBC also offers member businesses the opportunity to host ribbon cuttings at their locations, as well as a variety of  annual events, including the upcoming Wesley Chapel Fall Festival the weekend of Oct. 28-29 (co-sponsored by Florida’s Sports Coast and Penguin Productions). 

Also upcoming is the NTBC’s Celebrating Excellence in Business awards gala (on Thursday, November 16) and nominations for the Excellence in Innovation, Collaboration, Integrity, Inclusivity and the Community Hero award are now open. The Chamber also will host its third annual 5K Honor Run in February.

For more information about joining the North Tampa Bay Chamber, visit or call (813) 994-8534.

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