Empowering veterans and reimagining the networking space

Three years ago, Scott Sutek brought a new type of networking organization to the Tampa Bay area, Contractors, Closers and Connections. As co-founder, and managing principal, of Tampa’s Davis Tucker Group, a consulting firm in the construction space, Sutek is always on the lookout for innovations in the industry. 

CCC was first launched in 2019, in Atlanta, by Chris Maier, CCC’s president and founder. Sutek was impressed by how the idea reimagines the relationship between developers, investors, construction colleagues and brokers. Inspired by what Maier started, Sutek opened a chapter, in Tampa, bringing a new energy to the local commercial real estate world – and paying it forward in local communities in the process. 

Under Sutek’s leadership CCC monthly events are held with a clear philanthropic focus. From expert panels to construction tours, market trend presentations to networking happy hours, all the events bring together a diverse variety of professionals while benefiting the local community. 

Unlike some networking groups that put requirements, or restrictions, on membership, all the Tampa Bay area CCC events are open to anyone interested. 

“We don’t believe in leaving anybody out. We have a priority of making sure that everyone has an opportunity to learn, interact and connect with the elite professionals in the Tampa Bay area,” says Sutek. “We also want to give back to our community, so part of our mission statement here, in the Tampa Bay market, is that we give 100% of our proceeds to local charities.”

The Tampa chapter of CCC relies on a benevolence director to vet local charities, or schools, to guide their monthly focus but, like everyone involved with Tampa’s CCC chapter, all work is volunteer. 

“We deliberately chose to keep everyone as a volunteer. With no one as staff, we are all committed and work very well together behind the scenes,” Sutek says. 

It’s a simple model but the success has been impressive. In only two and a half years, Tampa’s CCC has given more than $120,000 to local charities.

One example is its upcoming Veterans Day event, now in its third year. Originally organized to recognize local veterans, the event has grown, this year to include an Employment Fair followed by a recognition dinner. 

In the first two years, this annual event has raised more than $20,000 for local veteran charities. It has also attracted the interest of a key title sponsor, Raymond James, in partnership with the Raymond James National Veterans Inclusion Network, Valor. 

“We’re grateful for their sponsorship of this exciting event,” Sutek says. “We’ve had contractors and developers, in the past, who have been our title sponsor and it’s very exciting this year to have a company like Raymond James get involved and provide us with valuable exposure, just in our third year.”

Held November 9, at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, the event is free to all active-duty military personnel and veterans. The Employment Fair kicks off at 4 p.m., and Sutek encourages local businesses to contact him through their website for information on how to join, as supporting veterans by offering employment opportunities and experience will be an important addition to the event. This year’s theme is especially relevant, Sutek says. 

“Our focus this year, and our charitable contributions, will be supporting Veteran’s mental health and suicide prevention,” he says. “There is certainly an uptick in mental health problems and suicide amongst our veterans. The data since 2020 supports it, even more so than just your average civilian population.” 

All proceeds from the evening will be divided among two charities including Tunnel to Towers, a national nonprofit started in the aftermath of 9/11, which focuses on supporting Gold Star and fallen first responder families, and Black Dagger Military Hunt Club, a nonprofit that provides shooting, hunting, fishing and other outdoor opportunities for veterans and active-duty military to promote veteran mental wellness.

After the Employment Fair, highlights of the evening include Major Holley Harris, president of Women in Defense for Tampa Bay, who also serves in Army Intelligence, to discuss the impact of women in defense. Another speaker will be Retired Colonel Beau Higgins, a veteran of the Marine Corps, who now specializes in helping companies grow their veteran hiring programs. With a range of other speakers and presentations planned to fully honor, and recognize, our local veterans, the night also includes a formal flag raising and color guard presentation.

This event is especially important to Sutek, himself a Marine Corps veteran and retired law enforcement officer, who specialized in hostage negotiation. 

“Every month we target a cause or focus on a specific charity but our Veterans Day event has established itself as an annual event in the Bay area to honor our military and veterans,” Sutek says. ♦

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