Since his arrival in the Hernando community back in the 1970s, Morris Porton of Spring Hill has worn many hats. Aside from achieving a banking career that spanned nearly 50 years, this multi-award-winning businessman and community leader has shown a resounding dedication to the community–as well as its Chamber of Commerce.
Through the years, this onetime president of the West Hernando Chamber of Commerce and the current Chamber Government Affairs Director at the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce has served the Greater Hernando chamber as the four-time Chairman of the Chamber Education Training Association (CETA), Advocacy Committee Co-Chair for 10 years, and in many other positions. Now Porton has added one more title to this illustrious resume: President and CEO.
After 20 years of service, Pat Crowley, President/CEO of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, is set to retire from the Chamber Oct. 31. The Chamber’s Board of Directors has voted to approve the hiring of her successor: Mr. Morris Porton.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Morris Porton during my 20+ years with the Chamber; as a Board Member, our Chamber Government Affairs Director, and as a leader with many of our Chamber Committees,” said Crowley in a related announcement. “Morris has a commitment to our Chamber and our business community.”
“It has always been my mission to work with the community and to meet its business needs,” said Porton. “Our every action at the chamber is aimed toward doing what is best for our membership.”
Porton believes that, when it comes to Crowley, he has big shoes to fill. “We have spent many, many hours working together to meet our members’ needs,” he said. “I want to continue her success.”
Porton’s own success in the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce has been distinguished by the winning of three awards bestowed by the Chamber: the 1995 Pioneer Award, the 2000 Citizen of the Year Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Yet when it comes to the Chamber, Porton has much more to achieve–and in some very challenging times. “We have challenges right now, and we have to learn how to help our members, even though we can’t be out and about as much as we used to,” he said. “We balance in-person meetings and ribbon cuttings with virtual and in-person B&B networking sessions and meetings. We’re on a learning curve, and we need to meet the challenge.”
Aside from representing the Hernando business community, Porton himself is still involved in a great number of corporate and community endeavors. He is the owner of All Pro Business Consultants and is the Reserve Auxiliary Supervisor for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office overseeing 20 Deputies. Porton represents the Chamber at the Hernando County Business Association (HCBA) and the Hernando County Manufacturers Association. He is the director of the Gold Shield Foundation in Tampa, serves on the Pasco Hernando State College Foundation Board, and is the vice-chairman of the Economic Development Technical Advisory Committee.
In assuming leadership of the chamber, Porton intends to continue working toward advancing the designated four pillars of chamber service to the Hernando community and its businesses: marketing, networking, advocacy, and training. Each pillar comes complete with its own events, viewpoints, and objectives. He also wants to serve and facilitate a community that, in his eyes, is changing and evolving.
“Aside from our retirees, the average age of Hernando residents is going down. We have more schools, more families raising their kids here,” said Porton. “This means we also want to foster our arts, sports, culture, and events.”
Porton says that the chamber also aims to, through programs such as the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of South Florida, located at the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce, promote business development and more employment opportunities in the area. He also aims to advance educational opportunities through local colleges and trade schools.
“We can help members develop business plans, and to let them know what they’re getting into in terms of starting a business,” he said. “Education is important.”
He also emphasizes the role that the chamber will play in disseminating information about local elections and hopes to further optimize the Chamber website, (https://www.hernandochamber.com/), to render the site more user friendly.
“My goal is to empower people around me, and to move our county forward,” said Porton. “Let’s work this out together.” In the eyes of Patricia Crowley, Morris Porton will work out just fine in leading the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce strongly and soundly into the future. “The world would be a better place,” she said, “with more Morris Portons in our lives.”