Central P.B. Chamber Hosts First Breakfast Meeting

The Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, the product of the recent merger of the Palms West and Greater Lake Worth chambers of commerce, held its first monthly breakfast at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, where leaders explained how the merger is progressing.

“Since we are merged, we have a lot of activities going on,” CEO Jaene Miranda said.

She called attention to the Business Tune-up Series running in the western communities. It has been so successful that the chamber is considering running a similar program on the coast.

“At 7:30 in the morning on the last Wednesday of the month, we have a topic that gets discussed,” Miranda explained. “This time it’s going to be identity theft, how not to be a victim and protect your workplace. We’ve had some great programs, such as using the Internet and social marketing. We’re all trying to get our hands around that.”

A big event coming up is the chamber’s installation gala set for Friday, April 27 at 6 p.m. at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Seats cost $125, and sponsorships are available.

Miranda introduced Maureen Gross, director of the nonprofit Palms West Community Foundation, who runs the auctions at the gala. “We get a huge variety of products from member businesses,” she said. “You can expose your services to 300 to 400 business leaders in our combined Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce.”

Gross said another major event coming soon is the annual Stiletto Award Luncheon, recognizing outstanding women in the community. That will be held Thursday, April 12 at Breakers West.

Gross explained other functions of the foundation, which include the Women in Business quarterly luncheon series, awarding scholarships to graduating seniors, the Wellington Community Fitness 5K Run & Walk and many other special events.

“The mission of the foundation is to be the liaison between the business community and charitable projects in the community,” Gross said, noting that the foundation has raised a record amount of money for scholarships, which now includes Lake Worth High School.

Miranda also introduced members of the chamber staff and explained their roles. “I think it’s important for our members to understand the support that we have behind all the programming that we do,” she said.

Mary Lou Bedford is the director of marketing and membership development, while Jessica Clasby is in charge of the Young Professionals program and membership services.

“If any of you have issues with your membership or want to get more involved, in mixers or referrals in your organization, or have young professionals, please come and see me,” Clasby said.

Tony Zapata is a membership account representative. “My main job is to see that the chamber continues to grow,” he said. “I’m out there on the road every day finding businesses that will benefit by connecting with other members. So if you have anybody you think would benefit from the chamber, you can bring them to me.”

Special Events Coordinator Marc Schlags handles the wide array of events put on by the chamber.

“Of all the events that we do, you would think that we have a huge staff,” Miranda said. “We don’t. We just have this incredible man, Marc Schlags.”

Schlags said he has gone full circle, having started his career at the Lake Worth Chamber doing membership sales.

“It’s grown into special events, which is what my passion is, as special events director for the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “We just got done with Reggae Fest, the Royal Palm Art & Music Festival and the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival within a month’s time,” he said. “All three festivals were very successful for our communities. I’m looking forward to the future.”

Miranda also introduced Nadine Burns, who works at the Lake Worth office. Burns said it was nice to see old friends and new faces at the breakfast.

“We do everything for everybody out of the Lake Worth office,” Burns said. “One thing that I’ve been working on, this is the second year that Lake Worth has been the site for the Women for Women Run.”

The run will take place Saturday, April 7 starting at 7 a.m. Last year sold out at 500 entries, she said, and 700 women are expected this year. “We’ve partnered with Girls on the Run, a national organization that’s a mentoring program for young girls 8 to 14,” Burns said. “This year we’ll have 19 men join us because 19 men, whether they are fathers or mentors, will be running alongside young women in downtown Lake Worth.”

Burns said the Lake Worth office also serves as a community welcome center.

“We greet people who are looking for services,” she said. “They go to a chamber to find businesses that are reputable businesses in the community that they can deal with, so we take pride on being able to relate to people who walk in, call and e-mail in. It’s thrilling to me to see the growth that this chamber has done.”

For more information about the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of commerce, visit www.cpbchamber.com.