Connecting business people to other business people and creating relationships between them is something Aakash Patel knows how to do well. It’s the foundation of his company, Elevate Inc., where the "connect" component of his "Learn. Connect. Grow." philosophy is to "meet the right people, the right way.” Patel is a master networker, offering valued connections to clients to help them grow their business. This leadership quality contributed to him receiving the Emerging Leader Award from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. The award is given out annually to an individual who has made a positive impact on Hillsborough County through their leadership.

Patel says, "I am honored to be recognized by the Chamber's Emerging Leaders Program. Hillsborough County has much to offer, and with the right leadership and vision, I am confident that our future will be brighter than ever." 

The Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay program was founded by Deanne Dewey Roberts in 2004 to recruit and retain young and talented leaders in our area. The award was created in 2012 and comes with a $1,000 check. Patel donated his prize money to the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County, a board to which he was appointed Chairman in 2014 by Governor Rick Scott.

Steve Knobl, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County says, “The ELCHC is most grateful for this donation. It reflects Mr. Patel’s understanding, as a business owner, of how access to quality early education impacts parents in the workplace and ultimately the quality of our future workforce. We applaud his use of his influential platform as a business leader to make a call to action aimed at improving the lives of children in our community and we hope other businesses will follow his lead in recognizing the importance of early childhood education.”

Patel matched his prize money donation with a personal check for another $1,000 and encourages future winners to do the same. Aakash says, "I believe it's important for every Deanne Dewey Roberts award recipient to enhance the gift the year they win in order to show community leaders that we as emerging leaders believe in going above and beyond. That is the legacy Deanne left on me personally, and I hope future winners will carry on this new tradition."

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Barnett & Bolt attorney Len Johnson first heard about Patel from his uncle who would praise all the great things his nephew was doing. Later Johnson was impressed when they met in person, saying, "He really lives his job, which is connecting people and making the community better. I can count on one hand the community events that I've attended over the last three years that Aakash was not in attendance, and when he was there, I was assured of knowing more people than when I got there." 

Patel is also running for a Hillsborough County Commission seat in District 1. He's raised over $300,000 and believes his vision on transportation, economic development, and tourism will move Hillsborough County forward. Aakash is developing his personal community outreach program and says, "I want to show the people of District 1 that I have the skills, the experience, the contacts and the get-it-done ethic to represent them on the county commission. And to show them, as well...that I am the American Dream." 


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