I did take the time to walk Lakes Park on Wednesday morning when remaining county parks reopened. It was 65 degrees and the weather needed to be enjoyed. With all this walking I have been sharing with you the last few weeks, it should be no surprise that the Chamber is going to do a Virtual 5K . I hope that you will join me and walk during Memorial Day weekend. If you prefer not to walk, then sign up anyway just for the t-shirt! You can sign up here .

We had a call with Christin Collins, Director of Health and Wellness at Lee Health on Wednesday. If you haven’t heard her speak, you are missing something special. This conversation was about self-care during a pandemic. A few takeaways that I had, which might entice you to listen to the recording:

  • I need to learn from this present moment so I can be better in the next moment,

  • I am responsible for my decisions,

  • Stop driving myself crazy on things I cannot control,

  • I need to let go of judgment, both of myself and of others,

  • And to purposely have fun, even if you have to schedule the time, you need to make it happen.

There was so much more to the call and Christin helps you start on these personal initiatives. There was some homework – every day for 21 days, I am going to start my day by writing down what I am grateful for. After the call, I shared my “gratefuls” on Facebook; My daughter, Elizabeth, my family and the Chamber team. If you want to join me on this 21 day journey, email me at Colleen@fortmyers.org and share your “gratefuls” and I would be happy to share mine with you.  

The big news this week is the Governor’s roll-out of Phase 1. Here is the information if you haven’t seen the details:

The reopening of Florida is unique so restarting our economy is more complicated. The Florida Chamber shared these statistics: Our economy relies on 20% of the tax receipts from the hospitality industry and almost 80% from the Sales and Use Taxes. With the significant decrease in operating business the past 6 weeks, these revenues have been affected. More than 20% of the population is 65 years or older and then in a month we start hurricane season. To be successful with our restart, we need to be thoughtful and utilize a deliberate strategy that reopens our area and economy with safety at its core.  

We continue to work with our community partners and fellow chambers to connect and share knowledge. This is how awesome our community is: on Tuesday we put the ask out for resources to help get our businesses open – looking for PPE, plastic protection, commercial cleaning companies and more - and we received so many responses from people sharing the companies that they work with. Thank You to those that are helping our community open and restart! With the Governor going to Phase 1 on Monday, we knew we needed to get this information out immediately. Here is the link to a “live” folder sharing these resources . Admittedly, it it isn’t the prettiest offering we have shared, but in this format we know it is current information.  

Today we are sharing our new initiative “Fasting Friday” – the first Friday of the month we will ask you to hypothetically “fast” and donate the value you might spend on food during your day to a food-based non for profit. Whether it is a cup of coffee or your curbside lunch- every dollar counts and is appreciated. This month we are benefiting St. Matthews House . 100% of their donations goes into their programming. Here is the link to donate.  

With the beginning of May, we will go back to holding our monthly chamber events virtually. Women in Business and Leadership NEXT are set and ready to go. We are holding-off on the “luncheon” topic – we want it to be relevant so feel free to connect with me on any ideas you might have. We are going to continue to hold webinars this month – again, if there is a topic you want to hear more about, let me know.  

I hope all of you have a safe weekend. Continue to follow the CDC guidelines so that we can work towards the next Phase. If possible, enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants looking to open on Monday.  

Distance Socially and Spend Locally, 

A follow-up survey of the FGCU Regional Economic Research Institute (RERI) Coronavirus Economic Impact Report is now available. Last month’s survey lead to this report in which FGCU established a benchmark of economic conditions in Southwest Florida for the last week of March. They plan on updating this benchmark for the last week of April, and then again in May and June. 

Please take a moment to complete the survey before May 4. Besides allowing them to assess the effects of the virus on our region over time, the survey will be an important part of applications from our area for state and federal relief efforts following this episode. Providing assessments such as the survey results will help us to be better prepared when these efforts get under way.