FRIDAY ROUND-UP
Is there an issue that really "grinds your gears?" The Chamber's Member Advocacy Committee wants to hear about it!

The Member Advocacy Committee acts as a voice for business on legislative, community and economic development issues within Greater Fort Myers through leadership and education. 

Take a few minutes and share your issue on the form here.
FutureMakers Coalition believes that our community will need to change the policies, practices, and beliefs that result in inequitable outcomes for people of color in our region. They offer an an introductory conversation providing an overview of the history of racism, including some local history, and concepts related to implicit bias. The FutureMakers Coalition is committed to facilitating community conversations to shine a light on these topics to strengthen our community's educational systems and workforce and to co-create a better future for Southwest Florida. FutureMakers Intro to a Conversation About Structural Racism & Implicit Bias training is next Friday, February 12 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Use this link to register. 
FutureMakers Coalition hosts The Student Voice Summit annually to amplify students’ voices in order to understand what education and workforce data really means and how we can work together to increase equitable outcomes – ultimately producing more workers with the credentials needed to fill in-demand jobs. There are no better experts than those experiencing a system when it comes to understanding how to improve outcomes because they live it.

FutureMakers show students recent data, like graduation and enrollment rates disaggregated by race, and asks them for their interpretation and solutions. In 2020, we also added a survey about the impact of COVID-19 on our students. It is important for community, business, and school leaders to hear these voices so necessary changes can be made to help us reach our goal of 55% of Southwest Florida working age adults having a degree or credential by 2025. Read the report here. 
It makes my day when our Chamber Members collaborate and work together. As part of the Talent Hub work in our community, Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College are working together to help our community finish their college degrees. There are two initiatives with one goal – to complete the last few credits that are keeping someone from a degree.

FGCU's Return to the Nest initiative offers personalized coaching, navigation and financial assistance for all students to finish their degrees. For more information, including funding opportunities click here, call (239) 590-1111 or email transfer@fgcu.edu

FSW’s Second Look Initiative invites students who previously attempted college but did not complete a credential to give FSW and more importantly to give yourself a second look.

Though this may not apply to you, please share with your peers, colleagues, and friends. You just never know whose life could be changed.  
Each year prior to Florida Legislative Session, the Florida Chamber of Commerce releases their annual Where We Stand business agenda that outlines key issues facing Florida’s business community in the coming year. While the COVID-19 global pandemic has temporarily diverted their course, their mission remains focused on securing Florida’s future, and it is more important now than ever. As we relaunch and reimagine Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is uniting Florida’s business community for good, fighting for economic opportunities and growing private-sector jobs. They're standing on the front lines to solve issues that impact Florida’s competitiveness, as well as the future of Florida’s business climate.  
As you know, the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce is taking an active role in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with our new Equity Committee. Part of that work in the coming year is to create a space for diversity in our events, our membership, and our board. Last week the U.S. Chamber hosted a webinar “Accelerating Board Diversity.” The Executive Team from the Chamber participated on the call and thought it would be a great share with you. You can access it here, and it is about an hour long.  
Elizabeth was recently accepted into the University of Minnesota Graduate School for Sports Management. We went up last weekend to check out the area, the school and of course, the weather (she is a “Florida kid” after all). We had some snow, which made her day, and it was a balmy 35 degrees for the weekend. According to the locals, they are having a mild winter. Every single person we met was incredibly kind and hospitable. It was an amazing weekend and E really enjoyed it. She felt good about the area and loved “the vibe” and this will weigh heavily in her decision on her future.  
It is that time of year when there are so many things to do! ArtFest is this weekend and they have changed a few things so check out their website before you head down.

As usual, I will ask you to have a great weekend and to wear a mask. But now I will also ask you to take a moment to cut the cords on the masks before discarding them – they have become an issue with the wildlife, in particular, birds are getting tangled in the strings. 

Stay safe, shop local and wear a mask!

-Colleen