It may not be his hometown, or even where he lives, but John Moors has played an instrumental role in sharing the story of Dade City.
Now, the leader of The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce says it’s “the right time” to leave the post that he’s held for more than a dozen years.
The chamber, with its 400-plus members, is committed to economic development and improving the quality of life in Dade City.
“The hardest thing when it comes to retiring is that you ask, ‘What’s next?’” Moors told The Laker/Lutz News. “My wife retired already, and we decided to renovate the house — spend time with the grandchildren, travel and other stuff, so the timing was right.
“It has been a pleasure to serve The Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce and to be associated with the marvelous people and businesses that make the Dade City area so unique,” he added.
“So, it’s the right time.”
Moors joined the Chamber in December 2010 after a career in the hotel business in both Canada and the United States and as the Convention Center administrator for the City of Tampa. He had also spent time as an adjunct professor teaching event management and hospitality at nearby Saint Leo University.
Moors has always been an outsider — that is, not a native of Dade City.
When he took the position, he considered that to be an advantage.
“(Not being from Dade City) it (could have gone) either way,” Moors explained. “Sure, it can be an advantage to have deep, historic roots in the community, but at the same time, it can be an advantage to come in with a 30,000-foot view as someone who is not influenced by opinions of people. But my goal was always to just come in and do the best you can for the people you serve.
“So when I did come in, it was about taking the time to listen and watch what’s going on and see who the players are in town, and become ingrained in the community, even if you’re not from that community. It’s important to know the history and background of the community and really know what their goals are and what they want out of a community.”
Moors is proud of the initiatives he spearheaded during his tenure.
There are three, however, that stand out, he said.
He helped create the SMARTstart Pasco Incubator Network with the Pasco Economic Development Council. Created in 2012, SMARTstart has a suite of programs intended to benefit companies of all sizes, from start-up to established businesses. The program offers low-cost workspaces, educational resources, guidance, a collaborative environment for area entrepreneurs, and microloans to help businesses that can’t secure traditional financing.
The Incubator Network, specifically, nurtures early-stage ventures during the phase when they are most vulnerable, helping them to survive and grow.
“To have that in conjunction with Saint Leo (University), TECO and the City of Dade City, that was very important,” Moors said. “It was happening at places like (University of South Florida) and (University of Tampa) and in Gainesville (at the University of Florida), so why not here?”
Moors also is proud of how he, chamber members and community volunteers were able to make the Kumquat Festival, the city’s signature event, bigger and better.
Moors has always considered the event an opportunity for Dade City to offer its hospitality and give visitors a taste of its good old-fashioned Southern charm.
The hope is that long after the festival ends, people who came to the event will return to Dade City, to enjoy the shops and restaurants in the community’s downtown.
He said he’s proud of using the festival to promote Dade City, and to support the well-being of its downtown.
Moors also is proud of the chamber’s leadership in creating and hosting “Access East Pasco and Access to Opportunity” events like the one that is set for June 16 at Saint Leo University.
The events are informative networking luncheon and panel discussions featuring leading area business and government influencers regarding the growth, development and business potential of the Greater Dade City area and beyond.
“It’s important to have these meet-and-greets where people can talk to each other and the leaders about growth and development in person, not just reading about it on social media or in the newspapers,” Moors said. “They get to see them in person, ask questions to the panels or one-on-one and, to me, that has always been important.”
Moors has seen plenty of change during his time at the helm.
He’s witnessed growth in the business community, and an expansion of residences, parks and amenities.
He’s quick to point out that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the way businesses operate, with several shifting from brick-and-mortar physical locations to e-commerce, and some converting to hybrid operations — offering in-person and online services.
“That’s changed the last couple of years with the pandemic — the physical presence, the brick-and-mortar is no longer needed for things like banking,” Moors said.
“Even when you have a physical shop, the way of business has changed, so (chamber) members have had to change the way they do things,” he added.
As for Moors’ replacement, a succession plan, monitored and administered by the chamber’s board, is in place.
Chamber Board President Matt Maggard of Shumaker and the executive board of the chamber will oversee the transition.
Moors will be missed.
Dade City Mayor Jim Shive said “it has been a privilege working with John over the years. John’s business acumen and keenness has served the chamber well, and was very instrumental in pulling the chamber through the last couple of years during COVID.”
Shive added: “The last (12) Kumquat Festivals have been very successful due to his fiscal responsibility. As a city, we are very appreciative of the chamber for their continuing efforts in putting Dade City on the map with the annual Kumquat Festival.
“We certainly have enjoyed our partnership with the chamber under his reign as executive director, and he will truly be missed.”
Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce “Access East Pasco”
When: June 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Saint Leo University, 33701 County Road 52, in St. Leo
Details: An informative networking luncheon and panel discussion event featuring leading area business and government influencers regarding the growth, development and business potential of the Greater Dade City area.
Published June 07, 2023