The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce had what Board Chairman George McGonagil called a rebuilding year at its 97th Annual Membership Meeting and Luncheon.
And as a University of Florida football fan, McGonagil said he was an authority on rebuilding years. That said, he had good things to say about the Chamber's performance.
"With our new CEO Kevin Cooper, we have a very successful rebuilding year," McGonagil said. "One of the things I was very impressed with is how we managed our financial situation this year ... We are in a much stronger financial position today than we thought we would be and certainly where we were a year ago."
It was high praise for Cooper, who took over leadership of the Chamber in September 2016. McGonagil went on to speak well of Cooper's community activism in the past year, advocating on behalf of chamber interests in local government and community panel discussions.
"The other big thing that I think we can today be proud of is we have the best staff we have had in a long time," McGonagil said.
That sentiment was reinforced when it came time to present the Chair Cup award. The award recognizes an individual who has made a significant impact on the chamber above and beyond what is expected. Typically, McGonagil said, the award goes to a volunteer within the chamber, but not always.
"Sometimes it's our staff that makes the difference," he said before presenting Chamber Vice President Brittany Lamont with the award.
Then McGonagil's responsibilities as board chairman came to an end as Board Chairman-elect Charlie Bailey took the stage.
"I'm proud to be part of the chamber's legacy of leadership in its 97 years in this community," Bailey said.
As for CEO Kevin Cooper, he told chamber members that its history was just part of the chamber's story. He recommitted to advocating for member interests in issues of public policy, such as economic growth and transportation.
"I want business to be ubiquitous around here," he said.
To that end, Kevin said it is the chamber's members, Cooper said, that give the organization it's significance in this community.
"Your story is our story," Cooper said. "Because there is nothing more important to us than what you're doing. We are al telling the story of Sarasota, because it is awesome."