Freedom Boat Club owner in Florida wins business honor

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Lisa Almeida, CEO of the Freedom Boat Club in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Fla., was named Up and Coming Entrepreneur of the Year at the Women in Business Awards held Tuesday at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

Almeida, known by many as Lisa the Boatanista, was chosen from among three finalists.

“I am honored to receive this award for doing something I love,” Almeida said in a statement. “I worked in the corporate world for 25 years before leaving to relax, go into semiretirement and hang out on the water. My plans changed when I heard about Freedom Boat Club and decided to pursue a second career. I am so lucky to have been able to parlay my passion for boating into a successful business.”

Almeida is a graduate of Flagler College, and she was director of marketing at BellSouth for its nine-state Southeast region until 2006.

In 2009, she was hired by the Freedom Boat Club to take over struggling franchises in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. She purchased them with a partner in 2011 and has grown the membership from 40 to 296 and expanded from four boats to 26.

Almeida is a member of the Captains Club, the Jacksonville Power Squadron and the Jacksonville Marine Association and serves on the city of Jacksonville’s Boating Committee.

She was recognized by the mayor’s office for helping to preserve the 27-year tradition of the Jacksonville Holiday Boat Parade. Almeida also raised $11,000 for Special Olympics in 2012 when she finished second in Jacksonville’s Dancing with the Stars competition.

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