Every year, each of the seven councils and two divisions of The JAX Chamber select one member to be recognized as its "Small Business Leader of the Year."
The chamber's Downtown Council hosted seven of this year's honorees Friday, including its own past president and 2013 Small Business Leader, Jonathan Smith.
The leaders shared their stories of what has made them successful in business and some of their experiences with the chamber.
"Our business started 19 years ago with one truck and one driver. Now, we have 22 trucks and 35 employees," said Vanice Serrano, co-owner of ASAP Towing and Storage Co. and member of the Westside Council.
"The chamber has played a big role in our company because it supports small business," she said.
Deb Eveson, small business leader of the year from the Professional Women's Council, said she started her Allstate Insurance Co. agency in 2009. She began looking for her first customer and joined the chamber.
"It was a leap of faith, but by nurturing relationships within the chamber, my business started building. "I know it would not have happened without the chamber," she said.
Erick Wilson, owner of TEC Works and the small business leader from the IT Council, said chamber membership has improved his communication skills, which has helped him build his client base.
"IT people, by nature, are introverts. Being a chamber member has helped me get in front of people," he said.
Guests are welcome to attend meetings of the Downtown Council, scheduled at 7:30 a.m. the first and third Friday of each month at The University Club at Riverplace Tower.
U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw is scheduled to address the group Nov. 1, followed Nov. 15 by Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
For more information, visit downtowncouncil.org.