The Chamber has been very active the last few weeks and I want to bring you up to speed. Last month I shared with you that seven local Chambers have been meeting every month on Water Quality and worked together to create priorities that represent our area. This group recently formalized and became the SWFL Alliance of Chambers. The Alliance not only includes local Chamber presidents, but knowledgeable partners: Captain Daniel Andrews, Captains for Clean Water; Marisa Carrozzo, Conservancy of SWFL; and Rae Ann Wessel, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation.

A few weeks ago, we took the Alliance priorities to our elected officials in Tallahassee. There were more than 50 representatives of Southwest Florida from all industries on this trip. Their focus? Water Quality. We were heard – and we are supported. There will be more to come on this topic as we continue to work on this issue.

The Member Advocacy Committee (MAC) also finalized the Chamber’s position statement on the anticipated ballot amendment concerning state mandated minimum wage.

  • GMFCC recognizes the challenge of earning a living wage. We believe compensation should be based on what the local market will bear. Therefore, the GFMCC does not support government mandated minimum wage increases.

MAC is currently working on a communication and education plan to further share this with our membership.

One of our long-term board members and past president, Mark Morris , stepped off the board in February. I would be remiss if I didn’t say “Thank You” in a big way to Mark. When I started here almost 8 years ago, he was my sounding board for everything a new Chamber director needs advice on! Thank you, Mark Morris, for your commitment and service to the Chamber and to the Board.

We also added five new Board members . Please join me in welcoming the following to the Board:

  • Michelle Hoover
  • Tommy Huether
  • Chris Lopez
  • Eddie Metzger
  • Phil Stalnaker

All are very active Chamber members and we are excited to have them serve on the Board.

Two and half years ago, our Board approved the Chamber’s first three-year Strategic Plan . As our 2018/2019 fiscal year ends on 6/30/19, we are working with Minaya Learning Global Solutions on our next Strategic Plan. On Friday you received a survey from us by email, as we are looking for your feedback. We absolutely want our members to be part of the upcoming three-year plan of the Chamber. Do you want your opinion to be heard? Then please, complete the survey. You can access the survey with this link.

If you are interested in showcasing your company above your current membership level, you should know about our new Premier Partnership Program . This new marketing initiative will bring your company in front of all of our Chamber members through multiple channels. There are only a limited number of Premier Partnerships available, so if you are interested, please call me at 239.322.2930 or email me at .

- Colleen DePasquale
President & CEO

The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Committee will offer valuable insight on growing successful small businesses during its March 6 networking meeting. Welcoming representatives from the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at Florida Gulf Coast University , the March Women in Business program will highlight the many services and resources available to area businesses at no cost through the FSBDC, including techniques and strategies for growing a business, resources for those looking to start a business, and training on business topics ranging from the basics to more advanced management skills. Speakers include FSBDC director Lois Knox, assistant director Suzanne Specht, marketing director LaShaun Collier, and consultant Andrea Robinson.

Admission: $10 for Chamber members, $20 for future members (includes one free beverage and light appetizers)

Host & Sponsor: Miromar Outlets

Women in Business is open to all.
"Smart Men Attend Women in Business!"
Leadership NEXT
Tuesday, March 12, 5:00-7:00PM

1406 Hendry Street, Fort Myers

An explosion of epicurean delight in downtown Fort Myers will be the focus of the Leadership NEXT session in March, with guests hearing firsthand from one of the masterminds behind the River District’s emergence as a hub of culinary originality.

Each month, the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership NEXT program offers unique educational and networking opportunities for advancing business professionals in Southwest Florida.
The March 12 session will feature a discussion about general real estate development in downtown Fort Myers and a behind-the-scenes look at the Kearns Restaurant Group, which strives to create a one-of-a-kind ambiance in its establishments with unique style, décor and cuisine. KRG is behind some of the most talked-about restaurants in Southwest Florida, including Ford’s Garage, Firestone, The Lodge, Capone’s, The Boathouse, Cabos Cantina, Izzy’s and Downtown Social House.

Nils Richter, chief financial officer of the Kearns Restaurant Group and owner of Phoenix Holdings of SWFL, will be sharing his experience working in Southwest Florida real estate and restaurant development over the last 20 years. He has been working in real estate since 1994, and in Fort Myers since 1999, and is the one of the key players in developing the KRG properties and unique dining experiences.

Also speaking will be Frank J. Aloia Jr., Esq., a third-generation native of Fort Myers and managing partner of the law firm of Aloia, Roland, Lubell, & Morgan, PLLC. He has been practicing law since being admitted to the Florida Bar in 1996. He practices in the areas of commercial and business litigation, real estate litigation, real estate and corporate transactional law, and construction law. His experience includes first-hand involvement in real estate development in the Fort Myers area.

Aloia, Roland, Lubell & Morgan, PLLC, a law firm based in downtown Fort Myers, is sponsoring the March program. The firm practices personal injury, real estate, commercial, family, estate and probate litigation.

Florida Gulf Coast University Alumni is the annual sponsor or Leadership NEXT.

Free for Chamber Members
$10 for Future Members
Complimentary light appetizers and beverages will be available.
Thursday, March 14, 7:30-8:30AM

Enjoy light refreshments while networking and be sure to bring plenty of business cards! The "Member of the Month" will be randomly drawn from Chamber members' business cards submitted at this event. 

Free for Chamber Members & Future Chamber Members. However, you are encouraged to register in advance.

**Don't forget quarters for metered parking!
Thursday, March 21, 11:30AM-1:15PM

Tessa LaSage, Colleen DePasquale, and Brent Kettler from the FutureMakers Coalition Guiding Team will share exciting updates about the FutureMakers Coalition’s progress and goals. The FutureMakers Coalition was formed in March 2015 as part of the Southwest Florida region’s inclusion in Lumina Foundation’s Community Partners for Attainment, a program of 75 community cohorts throughout the country dedicated to significantly increasing the percent of residents with college degrees and post-secondary certifications and credentials. The regional initiative in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties is comprised of a growing number of educators, workforce developers, business leaders, economic development professionals, government officials, residents and students dedicated to finding solutions together.

$25 Pre-Paid Members
$35 Future Members & Current Members at the door
Thursday, March 28, 5:00-7:00PM

Liven up your business routine by joining us for our Conversations & Cocktails!

$10 for Members
$20 for Future Members
Beau Klassen

Beau Klassen’s family has been in the Fort Myers area for 6 generations. He has personally been in the construction industry for a total of 7 years, five of which are in roofing. He is the father of two beautiful boys. Before he was in construction, he was a volunteer Firefighter/EMT in the Naples area, while working at NCH Hospital. He is an industry expert with the heart to serve the community. Beau Klassen is the Lead Salesman / Estimator on Florida’s West Coast for PSI Roofing, who have been in the Florida market for 25 years. PSI Roofing specializes in all types of flat and sloped Commercial roofing (Multifamily, HOA’s, Industrial, Hospital, Hotels, Strip Malls, Schools, etc.) While there is an operating branch in Cape Coral, the main office is in Fort Lauderdale. PSI Roofing has been in the Fort Myers / Naples area since Hurricane Charley in 2004. If you are frustrated with a current leak or fearful for unexpected roofing maintenance in the upcoming rainy season, give PSI Roofing a call at 239-673-9751.
Randy Mitchelson

Business Location: Bonita Springs
Years in Business: 7

Previous Types of Employment: The first half of my career I worked my way into leadership roles in retail banking and mortgage with Bank of America, KeyBank and others. In 2005 I entered the digital marketing industry by founding National Web Leads. We built dozens of websites which generated more than 1 million loan application leads for consumer finance companies. I’ve shared my financial knowledge with consumers through writing more than 1,000 articles for Daily Dollar, a personal finance blog.
Spouse Name: Susan and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary of getting engaged on Valentine’s Day and our silver wedding anniversary Memorial Day weekend in 2020. Susan has been with Lee Health for more than 15 years and leads the outpatient pharmacy at the new Lee Health Coconut Point. If you live in Bonita Springs or Estero you can have Sue as your personal pharmacist. 
Pets:  Skittles is the prince of our home. He is a handsome Turkish Angora, polydactl feline with one blue eye and one green eye. We adopted him spontaneously in 2017 after his previous owner passed away from cancer. We love his playfulness and affection.
Hobbies and Interests:  Grumpy Goat Coffee allows me to educate people about coffee from around the world and the roasting and brewing methods which affect the taste and quality. We import gourmet coffee beans and roast them fresh to order and ship around the country. I am also a die hard fan of the New York Yankees and Syracuse Orange and played baseball at several Yankee Fantasy Camps.
Burning Desires: Personally, Sue and I want to become snowbirds but not what you might think. When the time is right, we will experiment with living in Alaska during the summers and enjoy our Florida home in the winters. We also plan on celebrating our life together on a four week cruise of Australia and New Zealand. Professionally, I would like to join the board of a bank to leverage both my banking sales and operations background and digital marketing know-how to help direct the growth of a community-minded financial institution.
Something Nobody Knows About You: I asked Sue to marry me live on the radio in Albany, NY after winning a contest to submit your best Valentine’s Day wedding proposal. After she said “yes” I had the disc jockey play “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin. The contest prize also included a one carat diamond ring. #winning
Keys to Your Success:  Trust is perhaps the single most valuable element in my toolbox. Clients, referral partners, colleagues and community organizations rely upon my experience and advice. In return, my clients benefit from my being their brand ambassador, consistently on the lookout for opportunities for them. Along these lines, I am always reading and hunting for nuggets of wisdom and potential new business and sharing it with those in my sphere of influence. Also, my internal drive for continuous professional growth is a key. For example, achieving a Master of Business Administration degree at night while working full-time, becoming a licensed mortgage professional , earning accreditation in public relations and earning certifications from Google. I have wonderful mentors in my life who have influenced my professional and personal growth and taken chances on me.
Fort Myers mayor Randall P. Henderson announced that March 19th will be "Barbara Dell Women Empowerment Day." Barbara Dell, a beloved member of the Southwest Florida community, died on January 1, 2019 following a battle with cancer. Mayor Henderson shared the news about this special day in honor of Mrs. Dell at a celebration of her life that took place in February.

Barbara Dell was the founder of Dress for Success Southwest Florida , a longtime Chamber member, and a 2017 APEX Award Recipient.
The Women in Business committee of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations for its 2019 APEX Awards. Nominations can be submitted through April 1st. Click here to access the nominations page.

Presented by  Sanibel Captiva Community Bank , the annual Apex Awards event is an evening gala recognizing local women, also Chamber members, with outstanding reputations for professionalism, philanthropy and leadership.  

The 14th annual Apex Awards dinner will be held on Saturday, Aug. 17 at  The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in Cape Coral . Five finalists will be recognized during the event, and one will be named the recipient of this year’s Apex Award. 

You may make your reservation online for the APEX Awards here.
As a member benefit, the Chamber has excellent seats for both Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins Spring training games available for purchase by our membership. Tickets must be purchased in pairs. Please email Katie Hanson to make your reservation.

Tickets are a great way to recognize outstanding employees, and thank your clients!
$50 per pair

March 8 vs Rays: 1 pair
March 11 vs Tigers: 1 pair
March 14 vs Nationals: 3 pair
March 20 vs Pirates: 3 pair
March 25 vs Red Wings: 3 pair
$70 per pair

March 7 vs Twins: 4 pair
March 9 Vs. Mets: 1 Pair
March 13 vs Twins: 2 pair

The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce publishes a yearly Fort Myers Visitors & Relocation Guide. This full-color publication includes all-things Fort Myers! It's a great FREE resource that's available both digitally and in-print. 

Share it with your clients, employees, and friends!

Click the image to the left to take a look yourself and download the digital version, or stop by our office or call 239.332.2930 to have copies reserved for your business today!

Thank you to Vector & Ink for their hard work on this beautiful publication!