Berta Odom is the current chair for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is also a Realtor with RE/MAX 100 Realty.
Tell me about your background. Where are you from originally and how did you get into real estate?
I was born and raised in St. Augustine, so am extremely proud of my community and what it is all about. I worked for State Farm Insurance for over 30 years, and when I retired, I decided to come back “home.”
After a few years I realized that there had to be a way for me to get “reacquainted” with my community. Real estate had always been an interest of mine, so I decided to pursue another career in real estate. Now after 20 years in the business I still enjoy it today.
I have been fortunate to serve as the president of the Board of Realtors for two years, 2020 and 2021, as well as many other designations regarding real estate.
Do you specialize in a specific geographic region or type of property?
I primarily do residential in all of St. Johns County and surrounding counties. I feel that I know residential and should stay in my lane of what I know best. There are too many other good Realtors that specialize in commercial, etc. that I can refer business out to.
What do you like best about your career?
So much! The wonderful and different people that I get to help, and some have become very good friends to this day. The flexibility is also a plus. After being in the business for 20 years I have a lot of repeat business or referrals from them.
You are the new chair for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. Do you have anything specific you plan to focus on in the coming year? Are there some significant issues that the Chamber will take up during that time?
Yes, continuing to work on attainable housing for St. Johns County. We commissioned a study and a “white” paper; people can find the results on our website. Please encourage residents and businesses to join our coalition, explaining that by joining the coalition they are just stating that they agree that having attainable housing in St. Johns County is important for our economic growth.
One of the ways to plan for attainable housing in the long run is to use the Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map, which is fully updated every 25 years. The Chamber is looking forward to working with the county consultant and providing recommendations from the Chamber’s Comp Plan Committee as the new plan needs to be updated by 2025.
We will continue our goal to become an autism-certified tourist destination. And we will end the fiscal year celebrating our 120 years!
I understand that post-COVID there have been some new, mostly small businesses opening up. Describe some of the reasons these new business owners — or even not-so-new ones, for that matter — should consider becoming members of the Chamber.
If you own or operate a business in St. Johns County and want to grow it, you should be a member of the Chamber. Joining the Chamber strengthens business credibility as you become a member of the second-largest, broad-business organization in the region with more than 1,000 members. Joining the Chamber improves your business visibility through connections and networking with other business owners and exposure in the community through board service.
I hear often members saying: “The quality and the number of connections I have made through the Chamber is not achievable on my own.” They go further saying: “It would have taken me at least a couple of years to expand my network and only took me a few months with the Chamber.”
We accelerate the connections businesses are able to make and provide a platform for business owners to meet decision makers. In addition to that we advocate for businesses and drive prosperity with our economic development and public policy influence to ensure this community is conducive for businesses to expand and relocate to.
What do you like best about living here on the First Coast?
What is not to like! First Coast offers beaches, national parks, history and let's not forget the beautiful weather!
How do you like to spend your free time?
Being a Realtor and a Chamber member, there is always something to do. When my twin grandsons are in town, we hit the beach and enjoy our beautiful community. Six months out of the year I volunteer for Turtle Patrol; I do my part to help save the sea turtles. Volunteering is something that I enjoy and is the most fulfilling.