Chauncelor Howell In The News

Treasure Coast region needs its own administrator for Black business loans | Opinion

Blake Fontenay

April 15, 2022

Treasure Coast Newspapers

Everybody loves a story with a happy ending.

Unfortunately, when it comes to a state-sponsored program for providing Black-owned businesses with loan money, I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

I wrote a column about the Black Business Loan Program, administered by the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity, a couple of weeks ago.

The program, which has been around since 1984, is intended to provide access to capital for Black-owned businesses that might have trouble obtaining loans from other sources, for whatever reasons.

This could be a great benefit to businesses located along the Treasure Coast, but it hasn’t been working out that way.

Chauncelor Howell, president of the Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce, said he wasn’t aware of any local businesses that had taken advantage of the program.

There could be a variety of explanations for this.

Blake Fontenay:
State’s loan program for Black-owned businesses is just window dressing

Providing more resources:
Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce works on database of Black-owned businesses

Black Business Expo celebrates local black entrepreneurs and businesses

CNC Soul Food and Jamaican Restaurant owners Talbert (left) and Maria Chambers, of Port St. Lucie, serve customers Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Fort Pierce. The couple, together for almost 20 years and both from Jamaica, worked hard to open their restaurant in January and could use funding to improve the interior and exterior and increase marketing. The state offers funding through the Black Business Loan Program, but entrepreneurs across the state have had a hard time accessing the money.

Maybe someday, the Treasure Coast will have one or more locally based loan administrators for the program. That type of regional approach could benefit other parts of the state as well.

We’re just not there yet.

This column reflects the opinion of Blake Fontenay. Contact him via email at or at 772-232-5424.

Black History Month movers and shakers

Feb 17, 2022


The Hometown News spotlights Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce President Chauncelor Howell

TREASURE COAST – A Port St. Lucie resident since 2006 and the founder of the Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce in 2016, Chauncelor Howell admits he’s had an interest in local government and civics from a very young age and an equally strong focus on higher education. Although currently “retired” and working on his doctorate in business administration he expects to receive from Walden University this spring, he’s a two-decade veteran of the United States Marine Corps and more recently, a small business owner. He’s also made three unsuccessful bids for a seat on the Port St. Lucie City Council but doesn’t think he’s ready to throw in the towel on public service just yet.

“I have always been intrigued by civics at the local, state, and federal levels of government,” he said. “On a personal level, I would attend various meetings within the Treasure Coast – mainly St Lucie County – and it was routine to be one of a mere handful of minorities in attendance. Simply put, there was a lack of representation at the table where important decisions were being made for people of color. In my mind that was a gap that needed to be filled.”

  A native of Miami, Mr. Howell believes the early years he spent seeking a higher education coupled with his military service and subsequent time in the private sector have amply prepared him for his latest leadership role as the president of the Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce. He says he founded the originally-for-profit organization upon coming to the realization that no such entity existed on the Treasure Coast whose primary function was to advocate on behalf of minorities and women.

“I thought, why not start a Black Chamber of Commerce?” he said. “I am fortunate to have had an opportunity to honorably serve our country and enjoy an educational journey at the highest level of academia, but not without a great deal of sacrifice. My tour of duty of 20 years in the United States Marine Corps afforded me the opportunity to cohabitate with people from various walks of life. Coupled with my formal education at the doctoral level, that has provided me with the skill sets necessary to navigate my way through subject matters that require a deep-dive or more in-depth critical thinking.”

Mr. Howell began that deep dive shortly after graduating from Miami Norland Senior High in 1980. That fall he began his undergraduate studies at both Albany State College in Georgia and Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1983. From 1986 to 1989, he was stationed at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station in Hawaii, where he simultaneously studied at Windward Community College and earned his associate of arts degree in liberal arts in 1989. He earned the rest of his undergraduate degree from Chapman University in Mission Bay during his subsequent assignment as a Marine Corps drill instructor at California’s Camp Pendleton, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 2004 after his honorable discharge from the Marines in the fall of 2003. Upon graduation, he accepted a position with FedEx Ground back in Florida as a regional human resources representative. He immediately began FedEx Ground University in order to earn a certificate in executive recruiting & interviewing. He held three other subsequent managerial positions until his passion for continual education got the best of him and he decided to dedicate all of his time and energy to earning his master of science degree in management from Colorado Technical University in 2011.

  Since his retirement from military life, Mr. Howell believes his ongoing education and subsequent experiences working for Fed-Ex Ground, Eckerd Youth Alternatives and Evergreen Bio-Concepts has even further prepared him for the presidency of the TCBCC.

“Although the majority of my adult life has been spent within the ranks of the military, I had an opportunity to hone my leadership skills in the private sector,” he said. “The TCBCC plays a significant role in the growth, business climate and economy wellbeing of our community. We advocate and work on behalf of existing minority businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in setting the standard within their given industry. We have a progressive mindset whereby we seek to bring to our members a wide array of business solutions to meet the ever-changing technological world we live in.”

Currently boasting some 30 members, the now non-profit organization provides an array of services. These include planning and assistance in the areas of business and industry, minority affairs, education and tourism; guidance through the municipal bidding process known as request for proposals (RFPs); referrals to agencies that help businesses find the best workers suitable for their industries; and public exposure through marketing opportunities.

Although Mr. Howell primarily dedicates his time to now overseeing the TCBCC, he still keeps his iron in the entrepreneurial fire. He recently teamed up with another veteran to create Stick & Move Cigar Enthusiasts, a mobile cigar lounge that can normally be found at the Lakeview Bar & Grille at the St Lucie Trails Golf Club, although it also makes cameo appearances at special events throughout the Treasure Coast.

  “Anytime you get two veterans together for a cigar and bourbon, chances are they will come up with something extraordinary,” he said. “That is what happened with me and my business partner Jose Bernazar, an Army veteran. While a mobile lounge has always been a vision of mine, I could not have done it without Jose, and I credit him with coming up with the catchy name. Let’s just say this was a joint taskforce of a marine and soldier for business purposes.”

Although Mr. Howell views his current membership numbers as “not enough,” he believes he has a solid core group upon which to build a larger base in the future.

“We have among our membership stalwart business owners such as John Coleman (The Coleman Group financial services), Al Johnson with Jackson-Hewlett (tax services), State Farm Insurance Agent Larry Lee, Pastor Dr. Pinkie Hendley of New Life Changing Information Resource Center and National Recording Artist and saxophonist Gary Palmer, just to name a few,” he concluded. “We expect membership to continue to grow even more in calendar year 2022.”

For more information on the Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce, call (772) 252-1045

or visit the website at

July 21st, 2020

Chauncelor Howell

After serving in the Marine Corps for 20 years and retiring as a gunnery sergeant in 2003, “Gunny” Howell is passionate about veterans affairs.

Chauncelor Howell

“I can imagine what the generations of Marines are enduring upon their transition back home,” Howell told TCPalm. “​​There won’t be a single unemployed veteran if I have anything to do with it.”

More: Howell had large vision for city’s economy in 2016

Howell, 67, founder and president of the Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Stick & Move Cigar Enthusiasts, said one of his top priorities is economic development, particularly in the Southern Grove area. 

“I think I can be an asset,” he said. “I’ve done research on companies throughout the area.”

Cleveland Clinic’s Tradition Hospital is seen at the north end of Southern Grove. On the west side of the lake is Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, which is expected to soon by acquired by Florida International University.

The Miami native is a proponent of Virgin Trains development in the region and wants to focus on the city’s job potential and keeping Port St. Lucie a destination location.

Howell touts endorsements from Vice Mayor Shannon Martin and former Florida House Rep. Larry Lee, a St. Lucie County Democrat. He also reported a campaign contribution from Democrat Lauren Baer, who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. House District 18 in 2018.
“I was honored,” Howell said of his endorsements. “That speaks volumes to me about the work I do in the community.”

Amid global unrest over police brutality, Howell said he opposes defunding the Police Department.

Howell said he is working on his doctoral degree in business administration from Walden University, preparing to defend his dissertation titled “Strategies to Cultivate Long-Term Customer Relations” later this year. He said he has a master’s in management with a concentration in Homeland Security from Colorado Technical University; a bachelor’s in liberal arts from Chapman University; and an associate degree from Windward Community College. He also attended Albany State and Bethune-Cookman colleges.

He said he’s an Omega Psi Phi fraternity member and has volunteered for Toys for Tots, Habitat for Humanity and United Against Poverty.

“I plan to bring my knowledge, experience and leadership to Port St. Lucie City Council for the betterment of all citizens regardless of race, creed, ethnicity or religion,” Howell wrote in his campaign profile.

Howell talks about his campaign platform in the 2014 mayoral race:

Summer 2020 Edition


President, Treasure Coast Black Chamber of Commerce
Chauncelor Howell is a retired Marine gunnery sergeant and is co-owner of Stick & Move Cigar Enthusiasts. He also has a master’s from Colorado Technical University and is an Independent Scholar enrolled in Walden University’s Doctor of Business Administration program.

Owning a small business during the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest is extremely challenging for any small business owner and its employees. Unlike technology companies, most small businesses do not have the technical infrastructure to support virtual business operations during a complete shutdown. Small business owners had no idea how disruptive a pandemic would be — literally destroying businesses and livelihoods overnight. How does a small business survive during a deadly pandemic? Here are five suggestions to help save small businesses. ADJUST BUSINESS OPERATIONS As a small business owner, you may have to pivot from your business model.

“It is critical to be agile and proactive during this time and any changes need to be swift, immediate and measured. For example, contacting vendors and creditors, staying connected to customers, making a digital transformation and taking advantage of any state and federal government resources that could help ease some financial pressure.”

Considering these changes may help your business maintain during mandated closures and help in a speedy recovery when your business returns to full operations.

If your business has never used online selling as a strategy, it is time to consider making an immediate change. Start with marketing to your mailing list. Stay connected by sending updates on what the business is doing to remain open or how your business is helping in the community during the outbreak. Also, be prepared to receive orders from all over the country. The goal is to continue meeting customer demand and in meeting that demand, your business may pick up new customers.

The one thing vendors and creditors do not want is to lose you as a customer. Many small businesses operate financially from month to month. When the COVID-19 outbreak hit the United States, many small businesses closed their doors permanently. It is important to remember that you may have signed agreements and supplier terms that remain valid even if you close your doors. If this is the case, contact your vendors and creditors to work out a late payment or termination agreement.

If you are like most small business owners, you work long hours. If your goal is to grow your business, then your health must be a part of the business strategy. Yes, this sounds silly and out of place. But consider this, if you are home sick with the flu for three days, who is running your business?

To have your company remain viable during difficult times, it is imperative to have a digital transformation strategy. Integrating digital technology in every area of your company will bring value to your customers and allow your company to remain competitive.

Fort Pierce picks Audubon Development over Virgin Trains for hotel project at H.D. King

Keona Gardner

Treasure Coast Newspapers

Now, the city will begin negotiations with Audubon in order to bring the grandiose concept to reality. There is no deadline for completion of those talks.

“It’s a great and exciting time for the city of Fort Pierce,” Commissioner Tom Perona said after the City Commission — which meets as the Redevelopment Agency on downtown-development projects — picked Audubon’s proposal.

Audubon Development’s project, named King’s Landing, would include a 120-bed Marriott hotel; 60 condo units; eight single-family homes; 40,000 square feet of retail space; 14,000 square feet of restaurant space; a banquet hall; pedestrian walkway; train-station platform; and 300 parking spaces.

The company wants Fort Pierce to donate the 7-acre site between Indian River Drive and Second Street and provide $200,000 a year in tax credits.

“The Audubon project provides an opportunity for the city of Fort Pierce to flourish,” Perona said.

Virgin Trains USA had proposed a train station; a five-story, 100-bed hotel facing Second Street; a five-story condo complex facing Indian River Drive; and retail along A.E. Backus Avenue.

A parking lot would have been between the hotel and the condo complex. The project also would have used the City Hall parking garage on Avenue A and U.S. 1.

Even if Fort Pierce had selected Virgin Trains to build as its developer of the H.D. King site, there was no guarantee a train station would be built here, train officials said. Virgin also is considering building a station in Stuart

Virgin officials had said the earliest construction could start on a Fort Pierce station would be 2024, after completing extension of passenger-rail service from West Palm Beach to Orlando International Airport.

“It’s prom time, and sitting before you, you have a date ready to go,” former City Commissioner Eddie Becht said. “And over here you have a date who says, ‘Maybe 2024.'”

Resident Chauncelor Howell, the only person to speak at the meeting in support of Virgin Trains, said the rail company has a proven record of improving areas where it has built a train station.

“You can drive down to West Palm, to Fort Lauderdale and Miami and see what they are doing,” Howell said. 

The Fort Pierce Community Alliance said Thursday “neither of the proposals, as preliminarily presented, would be good for Fort Pierce.” The alliance, which comprises 15 business owners and residents, wrote on its website that Virgin’s plans are “out of scale, insufficiently integrated into the existing fabric and do not create a great public realm.”

The city evaluated the two proposals based on their preliminary development plan; acquisition and financing plans; economic feasibility; schedule; qualifications; preliminary traffic assessment; meeting community redevelopment goals.

A consultant ranked Audubon Development twice as high as Virgin Train USA.

For the past decade, Fort Pierce has attempted to redevelop the site of the former city power plant into a mixed-use project with residential, retail, dining, a hotel and parking to revitalize downtown.

The power plant was demolished in 2008 and the city and Fort Pierce Utilities Authority spent more than $4.2 million cleaning up 34,000 tons of soil contaminated with toxic chemicals.

Environmental cleanup has been completed, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Last year, the City Commission rejected two proposals — from Vero Beach developer Keith Kite of Kite Properties and RMA of Pompano Beach — saying it was unimpressed with both projects.

In 2014, a St. Petersburg group dropped its plan to build a hotel, 300 apartments, 55 townhouses and a four-story parking garage after opponents said it was out of character for downtown. The company had offered $2 million for the land.

In 2010, a South Florida developer scrapped a $90 million plan to build Atocha Village — shops, restaurants, homes and a hotel — after discovering the property would revert to the state if it was sold.

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