Leadership NEXT at Fort Myers Brewing
Tuesday, May 11, 5:00-7:00PM
12811 Commerce Lake Drive, Suite #28
Fort Myers, FL 33913
Ribbon Cutting at The Wine Room Fort Myers
Wednesday, May 12, 4:30PM
1544 Broadway
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Every business owner, staff member, politician or public service provider is in the business of economic development. Our actions, words and thoughts lead to equal actions, words and thoughts by those who are considering relocating, expanding or breaking out on their own right here in this paradise we call Lee County.
Over the past 18-plus months in my tenure as your Horizon Council Chairman, I have had the fortunate opportunity to talk with regional and national site selectors, as well as talk with clients and friends looking to expand or relocate their businesses here. I was stunned at not only the amount of data, but the sources for the data, that is being used to make these decisions. Yes, the basics from our economic development gurus here in Lee County are provided: demographics, competitive analysis, salary ranges, site location help, etc. are all part of the basic package for starting such a journey. Yes, the local news channels, newspapers and weeklies are reviewed…especially our op-ed sections. However, prospects and entrepreneurs are also turning to private groups on social media channels, blogs, reviews and online comments as a source of uncensored influence. I have even encountered relocation specialists who will order an Uber or Lyft and chat with them about a destination, neighborhood and general work environment. These specialists may also find a location-specific watering hole and engage a bartender or server in general banter about Southwest Florida, Lee County or one of our cities.
I personally frequent an establishment in Cape Coral called Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery. I think I’ve been there three or four times (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek). Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown I was sitting at the bar and a gentleman two bar stools away from me introduced himself, asked if I was from this area and what I did for a living. We engaged in simple conversation. He was from Maine, had a vacation home at Cape Harbour and was in manufacturing. He asked about the availability of qualified labor, asked about the City of Cape Coral and Lee County governments, as well as available land near I-75. He even went as far as to ask about schools, entertainment and restaurants. I felt qualified to answer some of his questions since I live in Cape Harbour, I own my own business, my brother works at a senior level with the school board, and I had recently been engaged in conversations with Lee EDO about a client looking to build a headquarters near I-75. I would say that we chatted for nearly an hour, he picked up my tab and we exchanged business cards. As it turns out, this gentleman (who shall remain nameless, since I do not have his permission to use his name) was a vice president at L.L. Bean. He and I have exchanged friendly emails and plan on meeting for dinner this fall.
Right now, there are more of these opportunities in our marketplace than ever before. The national recognition that this destination is receiving, the national ranking our International Airport is receiving and the national firms relocating to our market are outstanding. So, the next time you go to post that unflattering review, comment on that blog or comment negatively out loud, recognize that the eyes and ears for those comments aren’t necessarily locals. Consider the weight that your unsolicited, uncensored comments carry which can sometimes outweigh those of the great folks here in Lee County that are charged with making a difference in economic development in our community.
-Christopher Spiro, Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Brand Architecture, Chairman Horizon Council 2020 and because I can’t say no, 2021. 
Interested in meeting fellow emerging leaders? Come to Fort Myers Brewing tonight between 5:00pm-7:00pm to grab a drink with the members of Leadership NEXT.

Leadership NEXT is a group of advancing professionals representing a variety of businesses and industries throughout Southwest Florida who are actively pursuing opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills, establish working relationships with colleagues, and engage in valuable programs and discussions to further enhance their careers. 

This event is free for Chamber members and $10 for future members. Attendees are provided one complimentary drink. Beau's BBQ will be on-site if you wish to purchase.

The FGCU Alumni Association is the annual sponsor of Leadership NEXT.

Register online here or call 239.332.2930.
Participating on a Chamber working committee is a great way to meet new contacts and expand circles! We are currently looking for volunteers for our Golf Committee and our Chamber Awards Committee.

The Chamber's Golf Classic is known as one of the most fun tournaments in the area, and always sells out! The 2021 tournament is scheduled at Eastwood Golf Course in Fort Myers on Friday, October 29. We are looking for volunteers to join the Golf Committee to help plan this event. The committee meets twice per month and always has a good time!

We will be presenting the first annual Chamber Awards later in the fall, and are seeking volunteers to help with this new event. Meetings will take place monthly initially, and then twice per month when we are closer to the event.

If you are interested in participating on one of these committees, please contact Debra at 239.332.2930,
The Fort Myers Mighty Mussels open their season tonight at 7:00PM at Hammond Stadium, taking on the Clearwater Threshers.

Game attendees will receive a Fort Myers Mighty Mussels magnet, courtesy of Florida Forest Service. It's also Two For Tuesday -
get 2 for 1 hot dogs, soda & draft beer during the game, presented by Coors Light & 96KRock.

Plus it's Guaranteed Win Night! The Mussels are guaranteeing victory for all paid fans in attendance will get free admission to Wednesday's game. Stick around after the game as the sky lights up with a special Opening Night Fireworks Extravaganza!

The Mighty Mussels has lots more planned for opening week:

May 12 - Senior Night & $1 Hot Dogs
May 13 - College Night & Thirsty Thursday
May 14 - Star Wars Night, Fireworks, and First Responders Appreciation Weekend
May 15 - Mussel Man Bobblehead Giveaway & Bark in the Park
May 16 - Sunday Brunch Before the Game

Join us at the Crowne Plaza Fort Myers on Thursday, May 27 for our May Luncheon. We'll hear from a dynamic panel of business professionals in our area who have implemented creative and unique ways to help our community. Panelists include Brandy Lai, NeoGenomics Laboratories, Julio Barina,

Lai will discuss NeoGenomics' collaboration with the biomedical program at Dunbar High School and how it offers students an opportunity to get a jump start in their future careers. Ramsay and Smith will talk about Pit Stop's partnership with the Salvation Army to help provide auto repair assistance for people in need. Barina will share the important role of community service and helping others within the company culture at Markham Norton. 

$25 for Chamber Members, $35 for Future Chamber Members. Make your reservation online or call 239.332.2930.
The Salvation Army Lee Hendry & Glades County is seeking donations of feminine hygiene items to help women in our community.

If you are able to help, please bring items to any Chamber event and we will happily deliver them to the Salvation Army. You can also drop them at our office (2310 Edwards Drive, Fort Myers, 33901) M-F 10am-4pm, or the Salvation Army Fort Myers Area Command Center at 10291 McGregor Boulevard Fort Myers, 33919.
See our full event calendar and list of upcoming ribbon cuttings. 239.332.2930