Tomorrow is Juneteenth.

“On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas. He informed the enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the Civil War had ended. This momentous occasion has been celebrated as Juneteenth — a combination of June and 19 — for over 150 years.” - from The Smithsonian.

Continue reading about Juneteenth on the the Smithsonian's website. The site shares history and more, including videos, books to read and a way to share your story.  

The House and the Senate both supported a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, and President Biden signed it into law yesterday. This is the first federal holiday added since 1983.  
June is Pride month. I read the articles below to learn more and wanted to share them with you.

10 Facts About the History of LGBTQ Pride Month, by Skylar Baker-Jordan (Mental Floss)

It's Pride Month: What You Need to Know, by Ayana Archie and Brandon Griggs (CNN)

We are postponing our Foundation’s EXCELerate Mentor Program event originally scheduled for June 23. I will share the new date with you next Friday. If you are interested in being a Mentor or a Mentee (or both!), please call (239.332.2930) or email me! Thank you to those that have already responded. We will build the program around the number of candidates we have on both sides.  
The Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) advocates for a healthy, safe community for children through a multidisciplinary team approach to child abuse and neglect. They are currently collecting small and medium stuffed animals. You can drop them off at their center, 3830 Evans Ave. Fort Myers FL 33901 Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm. For more information on the work they do in the community visit the CAC website.
Monday (June 21) is our next Beers With Your Peers event. This time, we'll be at Mellow Mushroom (6911 Daniels Parkway, #900). Meet your fellow Chamber members for a night of casual networking from 5:00-7:00PM. $15 for Chamber members, $20 for future members and admission includes one free drink & light appetizers. Register online or call 239.332.2930.
Linda and I attended a collaborative program yesterday hosted by the Lee County Chapter of the Florida Restaurant Lodging Association (FRLA) and the Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce at the beautiful Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. The speakers were Dana Young, CEO of Visit Florida and Samantha Padgett, General Council for the FRLA. Samantha shared a post-legislative wrap up similar to what I have shared with you in other newsletters. Dana had some statistics to share and I wanted to pass them along: 

No surprise, Tourism is the #1 Industry in Florida.

2019 - this was the 10th year in a row of increased revenue! There were 131 million visitors from out of state. Tourism accounted for 1.6 million jobs in Florida, and $38 Billion in sales tax contribution. For every $1 spent by Visit Florida there was a return of $3.27 (this does not include the spend by our local VCB).

2020 - we had 79.8 million visitors and 4 quarters of negative decline.

Tourism recovery - until last month, we were the only state doing outside marketing in the U.S. Josh, an attendee at the luncheon from Adventures in Paradise, shared a new term – Revenge Tourism – basically people are ready to vacation and vacation hard!

From a recent weekly poll, more than 90% of American travelers will take a vacation in the next 6 months – “that is basically everybody!” Florida is outperforming the national average in all key performance indicators. The labor shortage is having the biggest impact right now and the polls also shared that even though Americans are very aware of this shortage, they expect the same, if not better, service when they travel than they received pre-COVID.
The consensus is that Florida is on a good path and once international “gates” open, we will be incredibly busy.
The Florida Department of Transportation District One needs your help to understand the transportation needs and interests of residents with regard to walking, biking, and riding the bus. Please take this 5-minute survey to share your thoughts. The survey is also available in Spanish. Please respond based on your pre-COVID experiences and your potential long-term situation. 
I have shared that FutureMakers Coalition has again begun offering their in-person class, A Conversation About Structural Racism & Implicit Bias. This is an all-day commitment but worth your time if you want to understand at a local level about racism and equity. Here is a link to register for their July program.
I am fortunate to sit on the board for the Lee County Chapter of the Florida Restaurant Lodging Association (FRLA) and this week I attended the summer board meeting. Some notes to share:  

Start planning now for the minimum wage increase, you cannot plan too early. 

We heard from a restaurant owner from Seattle that instituted a commission-based compensation model for his team vs. hourly/tip payroll. This is something that can work for restaurants and retail but not every business can do this legally in Florida. We are gathering more information on this, and I will share as it comes together.  

2022 is going to be a wild ride during the elections. With the census completed and redistricting to be announced, each seat in government will need to be re-elected. If you are interested in running for office, the Florida Chamber offers the Florida Institute for Political Leadership (FIPL). You can attend their complimentary programming and can find information on the next classes here.
We can expect to see the Visit Florida sunset bill to come back this session as well as discussion on the Short Term Rental issue. Tourist Development Tax use is going to come back as well – the Chamber will take this on as we do not support any changes to the use of these funds.  
Tomorrow (June 19) at 8:23 p.m., the historic buildings along First Street in Downtown Fort Myers will light up in purple on the longest day of the year to help end Alzheimer’s Disease. To commemorate the event, which has been held in Fort Myers since 2013, Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson has proclaimed June 19 as the Alzheimer’s Association Longest Day.

The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center (SBDAC) will be the main hub of the event. Mayor Anderson will start the festivities at sundown when he “throws the switch” and lights up First Street. SBDAC will also be the site of the Memory Wall where videos filmed by residents of the Calusa Harbour Senior Living facility will be shown. We are lighting the Chamber in purple on Saturday night in support of the event. If you're downtown, stop by to see us.
Fort Myers Brewing Company is holding their Summerfest 2021 this weekend, June 18th - June 20th. The will have 10+ food trucks, 30+ FM Brews and live music all day! Visit their website for all of the details.

Grab your leis, tell your friends, and have a great time!
The weekend many of you will celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday. The first Father’s day celebrated was June 19, 1910 in Washington State. It did not become a national holiday until 1972. Here's some more information on Father's Day from the History Channel.

I miss my Dad – he was a great resource when I needed to talk things through and I know he would be incredibly proud of Elizabeth and her new journey. I believe he is keeping an eye on both of us and though most might have shared a beer with their Dad, for Elizabeth and I, it was “sneaking” Loveboat ice cream into his room at Shell Point. Nothing better than chocolate peanut butter ice cream on the sly!  

Have a great weekend and celebrate – whether it is Juneteenth, Pride month or Father’s Day – it is all yours.  

-Colleen 239.332.2930