For 91 years, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and regional business owners have shared a vital symbiotic relationship: both ends work to support and sustain the other to achieve success. So it comes as little surprise that the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce building located at 1920 Meridian Avenue now bears the family name of one of its most respected members.
An integral part of Miami Beach history, the current Chamber of Commerce building was constructed in 2001 under architect Ira Giller and Chairman Gerald K. Schwartz, with strong support of local business owners. A chance discussion at the 2011 Miami Beach Golf Tournament between Chamber President Jerry Libbin and Dr. Ino Halegua, a longtime Chamber member and tournament sponsor, gave birth to an “ah-hah!” idea. Dr. Halegua, always voicing sincerest interest in assisting the Chamber by any means possible, expressed his long-held desire to honor his deceased parents within the community; Libbin then shared his search for a sponsor to rename the Chamber of Commerce building. The fact that the Chamber of Commerce building is coincidentally located directly across from the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial was the final piece the proved this to be a perfect match.
On Tuesday, July 3rd their vision was realized as a large crowd of the Halegua family and Chamber members gathered outside 1920 Meridian Drive to watch the unveiling of the new sign, “Halegua Family Building,” which now emblazons the easternmost side of the three-story Miami Beach Chamber building.
“This is a very important day for my family,” said Dr. Halegua, who was accompanied at the renaming ceremony by a throng of relatives and close friends. “I want to honor my parents [Joseph and Oro Halegua] as Holocaust survivors and I think the location of the signage right across from the Holocaust Memorial is very significant. Also I thought the Chamber could use the money to pay off the mortgage debt and give more leeway to do projects helping the community.”
Per the agreement arranged between the Chamber and its courteous benefactor, the Halegua family will pay annual increments to the Chamber in exchange for the renaming of the building. This annual payment will help pay off the Chamber’s mortgage, providing a win-win for both Miami Beach’s economic engine and the Halegua family legacy. “We are very proud of the legendary work the Chamber has done throughout the years,” Halegua said. “This will allow the Halegua name to be forever associated with Miami Beach and the Chamber, a very significant step.”
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