Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chairman's Message: The Destin Chamber - 50 years STRONG!

Jonathan Ochs - Trustmark National Bank
“Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved”. - Mattie Stepanek
Sincere Thanks
It is my honor to serve you this year as Chairman. What a time to serve, in the 50th year of our existence! That type of milestone is not achieved without countless leaders giving of themselves for the good of the community. Thanks are deserved by many, so wehumbly thank those who helped make 50 years possible. Also, to our outgoing Chairman Ken Wampler, our board of directors and our truly dynamic staff led by Shane Moody, your 2015 contributions were significant and praiseworthy. Thank you!
Unity vs. Independence
Are we unified? That might seem like a strange question in this forum, but bear with me. Perhaps many of us started off 2016 by crafting goals for the year…. things that we’d like to achieve….results we would like to realize.  It may or may not have occurred to us at the time that, in order to achieve those goals, we would need the assistance of other people.
We live in a culture of independence and isolation, where true relationship and collaboration are often devalued. Today’s society roots for individuals over teams, lacks concern for the needs of others and prioritizes individual success over the group’s success. Culture teaches us lessons that are counter to a spirit of collaboration.  I’d like to suggest to you that we all have fallen prey to this ‘me-centered’ approach at times and that we need to be purposeful in resisting this cultural norm for the sake of our families, our businesses and our community at large.  
The Destin Chamber is intent on being a positive voice for our area by accomplishing our mission - “advocating for business…strengthening our community.” Without unity and collaboration, we all suffer. The opposite is also true. As we work together, ‘wonderful things can be achieved.’ 
Advocating for Business
In 2016, the Destin Chamber will continue in our strong history of collaboration towards making the greater Destin area the best possible place to live, work and play!  
  • We’ll continue to work alongside the City, County, TDC, EDC and other chambers of commerce to do our part in fostering a community of collaboration.  
  • We’ll support pro-business initiatives and encourage managed growth/quality of life to keep Destin a family-friendly destination.
  • We’ll support the Destin Harbor and recognize its importance in our legacy, community and economy. We are in favor of prudent, quality development in the Harbor and in creating a pedestrian friendly environment for families to enjoy.
  • We’ll maintain our strong support for our military via our Military Affairs Council.
  • Our governmental efforts are not only focused within the city; we will monitor legislation at the state and federal levels of government and take needed positions.
  • Our community education and leadership program, Destin Forward, will see another group of local professionals become civic minded leaders this year, along with raising support for the local “Food for Thought” charity feeding initiative.

Events, Networking and Tourism
The Chamber is committed to providing and partnering in events that create environments for strong business networking, such as:
  • Leaders in Business Lunches (2nd Tuesday of each month)
  • Business After Hours (4th Thursday of most months)
  • Multi-Chamber Business Expo (3/15/16)
  • Tax Relief Golf Tournament (4/21/16)
  • Women’s Symposium with the Walton Area Chamber (April 2016)
  • 50th Anniversary Event (September 2016)
  • 4th Annual Bourbon at the Bay (October 2016)
  • Holiday Party
Part of our focus is to put on and promote, with the help of others, including the TDC, local events to draw even more interest in our area for tourism during the shoulder seasons.  
  • Bayou, Bay and Beach 5K, 10K and Half Marathon (1/23/16)
  • Paddle at the Porch - The Destin SUP Cup (8/20/16)

Your Role
What are we asking of you? First, Shop Local. Your money flows back into our community as you shop next door instead of online. Also, your membership, participation, sponsorship and volunteerism are what we need!  The Chamber exists to provide access, opportunity and relationships. Without our committed members, there is no Chamber. Without teamwork, we can’t achieve our best. Consider being proactive about the way you and your staff will be involved this year in making Destin and the Chamber even better. Let’s collaborate to help one another be successful and ride the wave of great momentum that currently exists in our community.
A wise man once said, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Join us, and perhaps together we can make the tide rise. Destin Chamber…50 years STRONG!
Jonathan Ochs
Trustmark National Bank
2016 Destin Chamber Chairman of the Board

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

Emerald Coast Boat Club Donates to Children's Center
The Children's Center in Fort Walton Beach recently received a $1,600 cash donation from the Emerald Coast Performance Boat Club Inc.  The boat club held a poker run to raise money for The Children’s Center, which is a division of The Arc of the Emerald Coast that has an inclusive environment where children with and without development delays can learn, play, and grow together.  

Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Earns Distinguished CFP Designation
Merrill LynchMerrill Lynch announced that Collin McCall of Merrill Lynch’s Destin office earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER certification, awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board), and is allowed to use the CFP® certification mark as an educational credential. The CFP® designation is awarded to individuals who meet rigorous education, examination, experience, ethics, and other requirements set by the CFP Board. McCall, a resident of Santa Rosa Beach, received a Bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and joined Merrill Lynch in 2012. He is in the Destin Merrill Lynch office, located at 12337 Emerald Coast Pkwy., on the 4th Floor, and may be reached at (850) 269-7009 or

Covenant Care Launched in Community
Covenant Care publicly launched a new brand and logo last week throughout its service area, which includes Northwest Florida and South Alabama.  Formerly known as Covenant Hospice and Covenant Alzheimer’s Services respectively, Covenant Care’s new logo is the promise knot, which symbolizes the strength of Covenant’s commitment to those the not-for-profit organization serves.  The new promise knot logo is also a visual representation of Covenant’s seamless continuum of care.  

Covenant Care Needs You as a Volunteer
Covenant Care is seeking individuals who are interested in making a difference in the lives of patients and families and in supporting the organization. A volunteer training will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 3, and Friday, Feb. 5, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Covenant Care office, located at 220 Eglin Pkwy. N.E., in Ft. Walton Beach. The workshop is free and open to the public. Interested volunteers will need to attend both days and lunch will be provided.  Call (850) 863-6165 or email for details.

Shelves to Shores Involves Children at Three Local Libraries
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA), alongside NWF Environmental Stewards, will kick off its “From Shelves to the Shores” Program with three community libraries—Niceville Public Library, Destin Library, and the Coastal Branch Library in South Walton. Over the next three months, CBA will host activities every other week at these libraries for children aged 4-12. The children will participate in array of activities that range from growing a native, shoreline grass to observing live animals to creating their very own oyster. The project is free and open to the public. Children are encouraged to come to their closest library to learn something new about the Choctawhatchee Bay and the local environment. For details, visit

Barnes Healthcare Helps CIC Children
Children In CrisiBarnes HealthCare Services of Crestview, a division of Barnes Drug Stores of Valdosta, presentedChildren in Crisis (CIC) with a donation of $205 to help feed clothe and support the at-risk children living at the CIC Children's Neighborhood.  The funds were raised through their employee donation program and the employees voted for CIC to receive this year’s donation. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, receives the check from Venencia Townsend.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Tyler Russell of Niceville High School Chosen as 8th Taylor Haugen Trophy Winner
Taylor Haugen FoundationOn Thursday, Jan. 7, Niceville High School Student Tyler Russell was announced as this year’sTaylor Haugen Trophy winner. Tyler is the 8th person to win this coveted award. High school seniors are nominated from their school, one nominee per school, in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. Nominees are considered based on the character traits of the trophy’s namesake, Taylor Haugen, who passed away on Aug 30, 2008, of abdominal injuries suffered during a football game. Those traits are Academics, Athletics, Community Service, Leadership, and Christian Faith. Additionally, each nominee must write an essay that speaks to their perseverance in keeping with Taylor’s motto of ‘Don’t Quit … Never Give Up.’ This year’s winner is the first trophy winner from Niceville High School, where Haugen was a student. Russell is pictured here with past trophy winners Charlie Shackelford, Mary Kate Myrick, and Collin Myrick.

SunQuest Cruises SOLARIS Wins 2016 Knot and WeddingWire Awards
SunQuest Cruises announced that its client reviews have earned the SOLARIS yacht the Knot Best of Weddings Award for the 7th consecutive year and the 2016 WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award. Both prestigious awards represent the highest-rated wedding professionals throughout the nation as reviewed by real couples, their families, and wedding guests. In 2016, only two percent of the 250,000 local wedding professionals listed on received the distinguished Best of Weddings accolade. The WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards® 2016 recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness, and professionalism. 

White-Wilson Community Foundation Supports Shelter House 
White-Wilson Medical Center - Shelter House, Inc.White-Wilson Community Foundation recently awarded Shelter House a grant for $22,542 to expand the agency’s sexual violence services. Shelter House currently provides services including a 24/7 rape crisis hotline, peer counseling, and victim accompaniment during medical exams and law enforcement interviews. The White-Wilson Community Foundation grant enables Shelter House to create an on-site sexual assault forensic exam room at the agency’s program office in Fort Walton Beach. The funds will also be used to establish a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program in Okaloosa and Walton counties with plans to train and certify five local nurses in the first year. Seen here, Shelter House Executive Director Rosalyn Iovieno (left) accepts a check from White-Wilson Community Foundation board members, Dr. Janet Niemi Chubb and Dr. Jack Azzaretto. 

Museum Hosts Traveling Exhibit "Rural Electrification" 
In August 2015, Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative marked 75 years of providing electricity to rural Walton and Okaloosa, as well as portions of Holmes and Santa Rosa counties. Through Jan. 22, 2016, you can view its special traveling exhibit at the Heritage Museum of Northwest Florida.  The display includes historic artifacts featuring household items used in the days before and after electrification.    

Destin and South Walton REALTOR© Launches Cutting Edge Real Estate Website 
ResortQuest Real EstateBrett Bianca, a Miramar Beach-based Realtor with ResortQuest Real Estate, announced the launch of his new website This beautifully designed website offers a user-friendly interface and powerful real estate search engine for Destin and South Walton properties. It also contains useful information, tips, contact information, and tools, such as closing cost calculators, and offers resources for those unfamiliar with the area to learn more about each beach community.

Warren Averett Hires New Chief Marketing Officer
Warren Averett hired Todd Decker as chief marketing officer and head of business development. Decker comes to Warren Averett from Stifel, where he was chief marketing officer. Prior to Stifel, Decker spent nearly a decade holding leadership roles in banks, including Regions, BBVA Compass, and Bank of America. He began his marketing career at Johnson & Johnson, where he served as marketing director for several leading consumer brands. Decker graduated from Duke University, where he was a quarterback on the football team, and he earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Warren Averett Expands Daily Money Management Division to Gulf Coast
Warren Averett continues to strengthen its Gulf Coast presence by expanding the Daily Money Management Division to the Pensacola office. Warren Averett’s Daily Money Management services offer assistance with personal financial affairs and provide specialized needs to families of private wealth, high net worth individuals, executives, and retired executives. These services include record keeping and oversight assistance with safety of financial data. Dee Dee Ward will be leading the new Gulf Coast Daily Money Management Division. Ward joined the firm as a manager in 2015 and brings more than 25 years of banking experience to Warren Averett, primarily in private banking. She offers special expertise in family office services. Ward earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Troy University in Montgomery, Ala.

AMIKids Receives Grant from Impact 100
IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida, Inc., recently announced AMI Kids Emerald Coast as one of the three organizations set to receive $107,667 in grant money. With these awards, IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida has now contributed a total of $921,000 to the nonprofits of Okaloosa and Walton counties for projects that benefit the community. 

AMI Kids Emerald Coast will use the grant to implement its AMI Kids Careers program to offer quality vocational training, as well as teaching job readiness skills to students. The other two organizations receiving money include Grace Rides and Matrix Community Outreach Center, Inc.

Previous IMPACT 100 grant award recipients include: 
2013 - Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge ($110,000) and Destin Harvest ($110,000)
2014 - Shelter House ($125,000) and The Arc of the Emerald Coast ($125,000) 

Scentsy Buddies and Toys for CIC Children
Children In CrisisShauna Davis and Jennifer Matney donated 50 Scentsy Buddies and toys to help the kids living atChildren in Crisis (CIC) get ready for the holidays and the new year. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, receives the donation from Davis and Matney