Two-Day Conference Draws Business Leaders Across Sectors to Address Future of Space Coast 


sean snaithMelbourne, Fla. [Oct. 21, 2021] – The Melbourne Regional Chamber held its annual Community Leadership Retreat Sept. 17-18, 2021, bringing together more than 125 local business leaders from for-profit and nonprofit businesses, as well as elected officials, to address the Space Coast’s greatest strengths and challenges.

The two-day event, themed “Building a Stronger Community” was held in Jupiter, Fla., to facilitate a greater commitment on the part of attendees to leave their offices and immerse themselves in the business of the chamber for the entire duration of the retreat. The meeting was facilitated by Dr. Jonathan Reed of Strategy First, Inc. with guest speakers including Dr. Jerry Parrish, chief economist for the Florida Chamber Foundation, who provided his take on the state of Florida economics, and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey who shared his presentation on “Growing Safely and Securely.” The keynote speaker was Dr. Sean Snaith, a nationally recognized economist who serves as director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting.

The retreat also included a panel discussion on aerospace and manufacturing featuring Dr. Marco Carvalho, executive vice president and provost, Florida Institute of Technology; Wendy Romeu, president & CEO, Alluvionic Inc.; Joslyn Barroso, director of human resources, Leonardo DRS; Kirsten Dreggors, vice president of engineering, Northrop Grumman; and James Hinds, CEO, Airbus OneWeb Satellites. A panel on construction and real estate featured Brian Curtin, president & CEO, BRPH; John Thomas, executive director, HBCA of Brevard; Brian Lightle, broker/owner, Lightle, Beckner Robison, Inc.; Mike Williams Jr., president, MH Williams Construction Group; and Patricia Weeks, president, Space Coast Association of Realtors.

Breakout sessions provided attendees the opportunity to weigh in on the topics most pressing to businesses today and in the future, including workforce development; diversity, equity and inclusion; cybersecurity; innovation and entrepreneurship; commercial and residential real estate; construction methods and materials; environment and sustainability; and utilities, transportation and infrastructure.

panel discussion“This year’s Community Leadership Retreat was widely regarded as the best retreat the chamber has ever presented, due to the high caliber of the speakers, including keynote speaker, Dr. Sean Snaith, as well as our industry-leading panelists,” said Michael S. Ayers, president & CEO, Melbourne Regional Chamber. “The hard work begins now, however, as we work to narrow down the many suggestions and ideas honed at the retreat and develop a feasible action plan.”

Specific action items from the retreat are still being fine-tuned but will include further efforts from the chamber as well as its partners on the development of a workforce development resources web page, a DEI benchmarking survey for businesses, and advocacy efforts to drive improvements in the areas of transportation and infrastructure.

The event was sponsored by:

“Orion180 was proud to support the Community Leadership Retreat because of the Melbourne Regional Chamber’s relentless efforts to positively impact the local Melbourne business community,” said Ryan Jesenik, senior vice president of Orion 180. “We were very excited about the opportunity to facilitate a meeting and further collaboration amongst some of the top current and future business leaders in our area. We were ecstatic the retreat lived up to expectations with great speakers and local business leaders leading meaningful breakout sessions. Orion180 will proudly be a key sponsor for future events and looks to be an intricate part of Melbourne’s long-term growth.”

panel discussionOther sponsors also gave the retreat a favorable review, including Corey Runte, vice president of pre-construction at Certified General Contractors. “Our Team was proud to sponsor the Melbourne Chamber Community Leadership Retreat for our second year in a row,” Runte said. “We fully support MRC in everything they do, as an invaluable asset and advocate for the business community not only here in Melbourne, but throughout the State of Florida. We are very fortunate to have such a strong Chamber in our City, and the results speak for themselves.”

Michelle Malyn, video marketing strategist at Tradecraft Video said, “From top notch speakers drilling down on economic data specific to our region, to panel discussions on aerospace, manufacturing, real estate and development, to breakout participants sessions focused on creative solutions that fit our community, this year’s Chamber Leadership Retreat was productive and meaningful. All time very well spent, among a great group of community and business leaders, and we look forward to participating again next year.”

In addition to the panelists and sponsors, other business attendees included representatives from ABWA; Artemis; AT&T; Boyd & Boyd, P.A.; Brevard Public Schools; Business Voice of Florida’s Space Coast; Carr, Riggs & Ingram; Community Foundation for Brevard; Courtyard by Marriott; DSK Law; Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast; Express Press Plus; Florida Today; Global Tours & Travel; Habitat for Humanity of Brevard County; Happy House Real Estate; Hardy World LLC; Hedrick Brothers Construction; Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy; Homevision Mortgage; HR Office Savers Inc.; ITG Realty;  JM Real Estate; Junior Achievement of the Space Coast; Kiwanis Club of Melbourne; L&S Administration Resources; LEAD Brevard; Legacy Angel Network; LLR Law; L3Harris; Matthew Development; MEC Contractors; Melbourne Main Street; Northboro Builders; Raymond James; Regions Bank; Rock Paper Simple; RMW Associates; Shelter Mortgage Company; Spherion Staffing; Space Coast Health Foundation; Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization; State Farm-Arty Pagan; Summation Research Inc.; Tech Rev; The Avenue Viera; Tuckaway Shores Resort; United Way of Brevard; USSSA; WeVenture at Florida Tech;  WELBRO Building Corporation; YMCA of Central Florida; and Zonta Club of Melbourne.

The Melbourne Regional Chamber, founded in 1925, represents more than 800 partner businesses around the Space Coast. It develops and promotes the business interests of its partners through representation, advocacy, education, and support, while contributing to the growth and prosperity of a diverse and vibrant business community. For more information, visit

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