In the early 1980′s Oviedo was a sleepy little town on the brink of fast growth and huge changes. Undeterred by the fact that two previous attempts to form a chamber had failed in the past, Nita Rawlson gathered a group of 10 local businesspersons and organized an initial meeting at Citizens Bank on January 28, 1982, to pursue forming a chamber.
The ten founding members – Wiley Abel (President, Citizens Bank of Oviedo), Johnie Conley (Conley and Assoc.), David Evans (Wheeler Fertilizer Co.), Jim Massey (Water Aides), Larry Neely (Outlook Newspaper), Nita Rawlson, Ben Ward (Ben Ward Agency), Don Weaver (B&W Quality Growers), B.F. Wheeler, Jr. (Nelson and Co.) and Harvey Winchester (Gale-Ward and Winchester Insurance) – agreed to commit time and effort to obtaining interest and support from at least 50 local businesses to get their idea off the ground. At the second meeting, one month later, they had collectively obtained pledges of support from 90 local business interests.
On February 25, the group outlined the steps needed for incorporation. Committees were formed, more memberships obtained and with the help of attorney Evelyn Cloninger, the 101 members filed the Articles of Incorporation on July 28, 1982. The first officers were: Charles Pratt, President; Billy J. Farmer, Vice President; Martine Priest, Secretary and Evelyn Cloninger, Treasurer. The first board of directors consisted of: Bernard O. Blackwood, David L. Evans, Johnie W. Conley, Harvey Winchester, Donald E. Weaver, James T. Massey, Larry Neely and Jane S. Dees. The board adopted as its logo the Centennial Seal that was created for Oviedo’s 100th anniversary in 1979.
After meeting in various offices and restaurants in the area, on January 27, 1983, the chamber moved into its first official office located at 78 W. Broadway in Oviedo . The one-room office was donated rent-free and the staff was made up entirely by volunteers. The chamber moved its headquarters to the historic Lawton House in 1989.
The Greater Oviedo Chamber of Commerce proudly celebrated its 20th anniversary on July 28, 2002. The success of the chamber is due to the commitment of the 10 Founders who recognized the time had come for our town to create an active voice of the growing business community, the giving spirit of the many persons who have served as officers and board members, and the countless others who have volunteered to complete any task and fulfill every need.
With close to 600 members, the chamber entered its 25th year with a name change that better reflected the service area historically represented by the chamber – The Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce. In late 2008, the chamber partnered with the UCF Incubator to relocate its Corporate Headquarters to the class “A” Vistawilla Office Building, located directly between its two major cities and at the center of the SeminoleWAY project (S.R. 434 & S.R. 417).
The luxury of first-class amenities, when combined with the continuation of the Founder’s commitment to member services, ensure the future growth of the chamber and the continued success of our business community as we celebrate our 30th year in 2012.
Photo of Past Presidents/Chairs of the chamber at the 30th Anniversary Luncheon on July 12, 2012