Last night we gathered at Nora Mayo Hall to kick off our 2022 Celebrate Winter Haven event! This year, we awarded the 97th Banker's Cup Citizens of the Year, the Small & Large Business of the Year and even introduced a brand new award, The Entrepreneur Award. And, we can't forget, the passing of the gavel from Chamber Chairwoman, Jennifer Fasking to our 2022-2023 Chamber Chairwoman, Dr. Angela Falconetti. It was a fabulous evening to celebrate all of the things happening in Winter Haven and the people who are making it happen.
Banker's Cup Citizens of the Year
Every year, it is a privilege to honor the Man and Woman of the Year with the Banker's Cup Award. This award is given to two individuals who have made significant contributions to our community and is truly Winter Haven's highest honor. The 2022 recipients are Dave Dershimer and Dr. Martha Santiago. These two have spent their lives dedicating time, talent and treasure to the Winter Haven community. To learn more about why these community leaders were honored with the 2022 Banker's Cup, check out the videos below.
Small & Large Business of the Year
Small Business of the Year
If you look around downtown Winter Haven, you will have a hard time finding a corner that has not been touched by Six/Ten. Their partnerships within Winter Haven’s downtown core are deeply rooted in their love for this community and its people.
They operate approximately 675,000 square feet of commercial space over 47 properties. They believe that one of the secrets to a vibrant downtown is residential units and they are putting their money where there mouth is. They have made a commitment to bring 500 residential units to downtown Winter Haven over the next 5 years. The first of which will be RainDance Apartments, slated to open its doors with 105 units this winter.
One of their goals is to be the best landlord you’ve ever had. If you ask their tenants, they are succeeding. They are known for working with local companies to build out spaces tailored to their needs and continuously support tenants as they grow. We are grateful to Six/Ten for their vision and the investment they have made in this community over the past 40 years!
Large Business of the Year
While State Farm may no longer have a physical office building in Winter Haven, they still have a plethora of employees who consistently show up and pour into our community. They have worked diligently with the Polk County Public Schools Community Liaison, Steve Warner, to plug into as many Winter Haven area schools as possible.
Since the summer of 2020, State Farm associates have provided over 500 hours on beautification projects at Pinewood Elementary, Snively Elementary, Jewett Academy, Jewett School of the Arts, Chain of Lakes Elementary, Garden Grove Elementary, and most recently Lake Region High School. For each of these beautification projects, State Farm has also provided Good Neighbor Grants totaling $4,000 to offset the cost of the landscaping materials.
Additionally, State Farm has hosted multiple back to school backpack drives where employees have the opportunity to donate backpacks, school supplies and funds to ensure that local students have what they need for success in the classroom. They also worked with Westwood Middle School to donate over one hundred pairs of khaki’s, the State Farm wardrobe staple, to the school’s clothing pantry.
Finally, State Farm has provided $25,000 in college scholarships to Winter Haven area students through the Winter Haven Chamber Foundation. With all of the shifts to remote work, State Farm has led the way in remaining committed to employee engagement and community support.
Entrepreneur of the Year
At the beginning of 2022, the Winter Haven Chamber started a Strategic Planning committee who were tasked with making sure the Chamber's Strategic Plan was still moving in the right direction, as well as brainstorming other ways we can bolster the Chamber's programs and goals. One of the things that was born out of this committee was the Entrepreneur Award. This award was created to recognize an individual whose entrepreneurial spirit has positively impacted the community at large. This individual is to be innovative, a community or industry leader, an upstanding citizen, and have an entrepreneurial mindset. To be selected for this award, the individual must also be the owner or an active key manager of an organization that has been in operation for at least two complete fiscal years.
The first ever recipient of the Entrepreneur Award is Joe Dunham with Grove Roots Brewing Co. This young man was proudly born and raised here in Winter Haven. He attended Wake Forest and after obtaining his degree, he began his career as a project manager for a copper mine in Michigan. Through long days of hard work, challenging travel schedules, and a lot of personal sacrifice, Joe Dunham saved so he could pursue his passion…craft beer.
Luckily for all of us, his passion for beer and community was strong. As such he decided to return home and begin his journey of entrepreneurship.
Besides the knowledge of brewing fantastic beer, the road to grand opening required a business plan, community growth research and choosing the right location. Joe worked with the city to update policies & Zoning affecting the downtown area specifically as it related to breweries. He picked an “older” building, worked with local investors and played a vital role in the downtown transformation. In September of 2016, Grove Roots opened its doors to the public for the very first time.
While Joe did not invent beer, his innovation was creating a “first of its kind space” in Winter Haven. Grove Roots welcomes and encourages family units of all ages to gather, eat, drink, socialize and where camaraderie is always on tap.
Today you will find that Joe and the Grove Roots name go above and beyond to support numerous organizations within our community. He even helps in innovative ways. While people were panicking to find enough water for a potential hurricane, Joe started an industry trend of filling beer tanks with water. Get this, he planned to keep it as “just water” for the community in case of need.
Joe has a heart for Winter Haven, both the place and the people. This love shines through the business he has built at Grove Roots. He cares for his team, his vendors and he consistently does the right thing, even when no one is looking.
Passing of the Gavel
To complete a wonderful evening of festivities, we concluded with the traditional passing of the gavel. Jennifer Fasking has lead our Chamber through the 2021-2022 year and we are so thankful for her leadership. She passed the gavel onto the 2022-2023 Chamber Chairwoman, Dr. Angela Falconetti. We are so excited to see all that the future holds!