Dear Fellow Chamber Members,

Unintended consequences. I think we have all either been the victim or the benefactor of unintended consequences at some point in our life. Unfortunately, I fear that we may all become the victim of unintended consequences if Amendment 2 passes this November 3rd. Amendment 2 will raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour by 2026. And while this certainly sounds reasonable and attractive at face value, I believe it will hurt more than it will help, especially in the hospitality and tourism industry. An increase to a $15.00 minimum wage represents a 75% increase in labor costs over the next 5 years. I don’t know of any industry that can absorb that kind of increase in operating cost. And it does not end there, Amendment 2 has a built-in annual increase for inflation every subsequent year thereafter. And while minimum wage increases similar to this have been passed in big cities like New York City and Seattle, no state has ever passed such a Constitutional Amendment, which will make it next to impossible to change or undo once done.
While the average hourly wage will increase, the unintended consequences of Amendment 2 will be that business owners will need to reduce the number of jobs and/or reduce hours for those that have jobs to offset the increased cost. It will also result in either reduced benefits and/or higher benefit costs to the employee (such as insurance) and a rush to increase the use of automation, eliminating some positions altogether. Many of the positions that will be eliminated will be entry level positions. And ultimately, we will all see increased prices.

I started my career in the hospitality industry when I was 16 years old. As soon as I got my driver's license, I remember my father explaining to me that if I wanted to use the family car, I needed to get a job to start paying for the gas. A couple weeks later I started as a dishwasher in a family restaurant making just above the minimum wage of $2.50 an hour. This was “my first step” into the working world and it helped me learn some basic life skills such as, being on time, working with others, common courtesy and managing my own money and bank account. My daughters, who now work in other professions, also had their first jobs in the hospitality industry when they were in high school. I suspect many of us had our first job working as a server, bus person, host, cashier or valet parker. With a $15.00 an hour minimum wage, entry level jobs like those will become fewer and far between.

The unintended consequences of Amendment 2 will also lead to the end of even more independent, Mom and Pop run restaurants. Restaurants that have already been devastated by the COVID virus. In the restaurant industry profit margins normally run between 2%-5%. Not much room for error, let alone the unintended consequences. What the COVID virus has not already taken, Amendment 2 will. In Seattle where the city minimum wage law has now increased to more than $16.00 an hour, over 50% of independent restaurants closed, pre-COVID virus. This November 3rd let’s not become a victim of unintended consequences and vote no on Amendment 2.

-Jim Larkin
Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30 at 9:00AM, we will present a program on the six Florida Amendments on the November 3 ballot. This non-partisan event will be led by Andrew Wiggins, Senior Director, Political Affairs & Coalitions Advocacy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, who will discuss the meanings of voting yes or no on each. Mr. Wiggins will also share an update on the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

This virtual event is $10 for Chamber members, $20 for future members. Advance registration is required for login credentials.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, a member of the Chamber since 2019, is located at 8210 Cypress Lake Drive in Fort Myers, just west of Florida SouthWestern State College. The Church rents its newly renovated Fr. Arthur Kontinos Hall, which is kitchen-equipped and has an adjacent courtyard. The space has been used for wedding receptions, catered events, Quincenaras, lectures, music festivals, business meetings, office parties, expos and more. To learn more about renting their space call 239-481-2099 or email officeagoc@gmail.com.
Friday, October 9, 11:00AM-6:00PM
Saturday, October 10, 11:00AM-6:00PM

This is a drive-thru event where you can pick up an array of Greek delicacies to enjoy at home - gyros, pastichio, tiropita, moussaka, spanakopita, Greek salad, baklava and more!

October's Women in Business virtual program will feature female entrepreneurs in our community discussing their experiences building their businesses. We will hear from Suzanne Boy, Boy Agnew Potanovic, Judy Williams, SPADA Salon & Day Spa, Kelly L. Fayer, Kelly L. Fayer P.A., and Erica Castner, Castner Consulting in a conversation moderated by Jessica Walker, Markham Norton Mosteller Wright & Co, P.A.

Registration is required for access to this online event, which takes place on Wednesday, October 7 at 4:00PM. Networking and time for Q&A will be part of this virtual event.

$10 for Chamber Members, $15 for future members 
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is working with Cicero Group, a third-party researcher, to continue ongoing research on the impacts of COVID-19 on employers, employee childcare needs, and return to work planning. They have created a short survey and asked us to participate.

Your input is essential to helping all business and civic leaders return to work and best support the childcare needs of working parents. Please follow the link below to take the survey; it should only take 10-15 minutes to complete. You can reach out to Cicero with any specific questions.
For those interested, the Foundation recently published findings from research conducted this Spring on the “COVID-19 Impact on Childcare” website that focuses on both employers and parents. Those findings are included in the reports below for your reference: 

Friday, November 6, 12:00PM

Wednesday, December 2, 5:00PM

Tuesday, December 15, 8:00AM-6:00PM
Chamber Holiday Open House, 2310 Edwards Drive
Thomas and Peanut are co-workers of Carrie Moloney, owner and graphic designer of Evolution Design House, a Chamber member since 2018. Thomas, the large orange cat, last weighed in at over 20 pounds. His best friend is a four-year-old girl. He submits to all displays of her affection and even agreed to wear bunny ears on Easter.

Peanut is a smaller gray cat (or muted tortoise, if you're fancy). She recently began to allow the four-year-old to pet her, but affection must be limited and there will be no bunny ears.
Both cats enjoy obscuring computer screens, laying on papers, and making sure the house has a fresh covering of fur each day when the Roomba has finished its rounds. Thomas has happily attended a Women in Business meeting via Zoom, but if Peanut were to attend an event, you'd probably find her drinking wine by herself at a table in the corner.

To learn more about any of the human or non-humans at Evolution Design House call (239) 728-4538 or email info@evolutiondesignhouse.com.
Have a non-human colleague you'd like us to feature?
Send an email with photo (of non-human!) to Linda@FortMyers.org.