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Gift for a giver
Largo resident praised for contributions to library, region
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Photo by CHRIS GEORGE
Silver Hammer Award winner Nate Freeman of Network People congratulates Citizen of the Year Lynn Pippenger on Sept. 8 during the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce Meeting and Awards Breakfast in Sand Key.
CLEARWATER – Largo resident and retired Raymond James Financial executive Lynn Pippenger added the Citizen of the Year award to her résumé during the 63rd annual Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce Meeting and Awards Breakfast on Sept. 8 in Sand Key.

But as a library assistant who knows what it takes to maintain an institution, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith has another word to describe Pippenger: “godsend.”

“She has done so much for our library foundation,” Smith said.

Pippenger, who serves as the Greater Largo Library Foundation’s president, has been instrumental in its continued growth. Recently, she announced the foundation’s newest goal of purchasing a mobile book library, something the library has sought since its inception.

“With the Largo library, I have given back in time, treasure and talent. … They keep me very busy, but I love it,” Pippenger said.

Pippenger’s generosity has gone beyond Largo, though. This past February, the University of South Florida named its accounting school after her, recognizing her longtime support, which includes $21 million in donations to the USF Muma College of Business.  

“(Pippenger) is proof that very big things come in small packages. Her rise to business success is an inspiration in and of itself. Add to that her generosity – her pay-it-forward approach on life – and you have the real deal,” outgoing chamber chairman Rick Donohue said.

The chamber’s growth and outreach efforts during the past year have also been the real deal, Donohue said during the event. The launch of the Each One, Reach One initiative has resulted in about 50 new businesses joining the chamber. That growth led the chamber to make a big move, as it will be relocating to 801 West Bay Center in Largo.

“It’s a high-profile address, more centrally positioned to serve our members in addition to visitors heading west to the beaches,” Donohue said.

The move is expected to be completed by Oct. 5.

A focus on economic development also was a point of pride. A partnership with the Florida Chamber of Commerce led to several pro-business and job creation initiatives taking root in Tallahassee, he said.

“It’s been a good year, and building upon the growth we’re enjoying will continue to be at the forefront of all of our efforts,” Donohue said.

Chris Johnson, president of Piper Fire Protection, will now be overseeing that growth when he takes over the role of chairman Oct. 1. Johnson will be picking up where Donohue leaves off, and he said goals for the future include increasing the chamber’s ranks and visibility in the community through new programs and continued dialogue and outreach.

“Through our joint efforts, talents and financial investment, I’m confident we will attain all we aim to achieve,” he said.

Community Awards Silver Hammer Award

Piper Fire Protection (represented by Chris Johnson) and Network People (represented by Nate Freeman)

After several years of work and more than $1 million, the two companies were able to renovate an old manufacturing facility and turn it into their new state-of-the-art corporate headquarters.

Mac Norcross Small Business Leader of the Year

Tim and Jill O’Connell, Paradise Air Inc.

After starting the business on their own in 2010, they now have a staff of 10 employees and a fleet of six vehicles. They also recently opened an office in Largo and hope to have an open house this fall.

Organization Awards

For contributions from chamber members.

Ambassador of the Year Award
Jerry Hotho, gWiz Professional Technology Services

Hotho earned the most points in his outreach efforts to members, and, according to chamber President Tom Morrissette, was the go-to guy for facilitating many ribbon-cutting events.

Committee Chairman of the Year Award

Sheri Joyner, YMCA of the Suncoast, representing Women’s Leadership Committee

Joyner’s committee changed its name from the Women in Business Council to the Women’s Leadership Committee, and then created the Women for Women Speaker’s Series held at various business and organization locations covering topics ranging from financial planning to organic gardening.

President Award

Scott Lake, R.S. Williams & Associates

Lake is the first to win the award in consecutive years after leading the Each One, Reach One initiative and starting the chamber’s Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament, which raised nearly $5,000 to fund scholarships and recognition programs at local schools.

Business Member of the Year Award

Glenn Fisher, representing Modern Business Associates

Modern Business Associates provided business guidance, financial supports and involvement at all levels.
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