The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, opened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal on Monday, January 11, 2021 9:00AM ET. 

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. When the PPP loan portal system opens, it will initially accept First Draw PPP loan applications from participating CFIs, which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses.

  • PPP loans have an interest rate of 1%.
  • Loans issued prior to June 5 have a maturity of 2 years. Loans issued after June 5 have a maturity of 5 years.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for borrowers who apply for loan forgiveness until SBA remits the borrower's loan forgiveness amount to the lender. If a borrower does not apply for loan forgiveness, payments are deferred 10 months after the end of the covered period for the borrower’s loan forgiveness (either 8 weeks or 24 weeks).
  • No collateral or personal guarantees are required.
  • Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.

How To Apply
You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program. 
If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download the following PPP borrower application forms to see the information that will be requested from you when you apply with a lender:

The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the Florida Institute for Political Leadership (FIPL) online training Tuesday, January 12, Wednesday, January 13, and Thursday, January 14, from 5:30PM-8:00PM each day.

This non-partisan program was created by the Florida Chamber of Commerce to recruit and provide campaign training to candidates and elected officials across the State of Florida. The training will provide a briefing on emerging local and state issues, teach attendees what local opportunities are available for appointed or elected positions, provide guidance on how to prepare to run for office in the future, and provide training on how to run winning campaigns.

It's not too late to sign up! Register online here.
If you are looking for opportunities to promote your business at the Chamber's various special events, consider donating a prize for one of the raffles/auctions. Whether it's one item or a basket, it's a great way to get your company's name out to those who attend.

Rather than ask you multiple times throughout the year, we have comprised a list of the 2021 events where prizes will be awarded:

  • Sweethearts & Scholarships (February 3, 2021)
  • 144 Envelope Adventure (June 2021)
  • APEX Awards (August 2021)
  • Golf Tournament (October 2021)
  • Women in Business Online Bingo (date tbd)

Interested in donating? Please contact Debra DeHaven at 239.332.2930 or send her an email.
The School District of Lee County (SDLC) is developing/implementing a new proximity-based student assignment plan for elementary schools starting for the 2022-23 school year. On Thursday, January 21 at 12:00PM, Adam Molloy, Coordinator of Community Engagement for the School District of Lee County, will share how the SDLC and Davis Demographics used community data to organize elementary schools and students into new attendance boundaries (smaller zones, reduce number of choices). The new proximity plan will have the ability to both improve transportation efficiency and address levels of diversity. Free online event. Register to receive login credentials.
The Lee Health Blood Mobile will be at our Chamber (2310 Edwards Drive, Fort Myers) on Tuesday, January 26 from 9:00AM-4:00PM. Blood donations with Lee Health Blood Center remain in their four acute care hospitals—Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital. Blood also benefits patients at their specialty hospitals — Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, the Rehabilitation Hospital, Regional Cancer Center and Lee Health Coconut Point. All donors receive a limited-edition t-shirt and wellness check-up. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 239-343-2333.
Every February, the Women in Business Committee presents "Sweethearts & Scholarships," an event that raises funds for the their scholarship fund. This year, the event will look a little different, but will still be a unique and fun way to support the scholarships for non-traditional students at area colleges.

Join Women in Business on Wednesday, February 3 from 4:00PM to 6:00PM at Millennial Brewing (1811 Royal Palm Ave, Fort Myers) for the 2021 Sweethearts & Scholarships. Attendees will have the opportunity to gather indoors and outdoors to allow for physical distancing, and purchase tickets to bid for prizes. This year's prizes include desserts*, wines/wine-related items, and spirits!

$10 for Chamber members; $20 for future members.

*desserts must be pre-packaged - nothing homemade this year, please.
On Tuesday, February 9 from 5:00PM to 7:00PM, Leadership NEXT will have an in-person event at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates for networking and a self-guided tour. This event is free and limited to 40 participants. Registration is required. Please note that masks are required on the property.

The FGCU Alumni Association is the annual sponsor of Leadership NEXT.
We are hosting our first in-person luncheon of 2021 on Wednesday, February 17 at the Crowne Plaza Fort Myers at Bell Tower (13051 Bell Tower Drive, Fort Myers). The event runs from 11:30AM to 1:00PM.

Our guest speakers are: John Talmage, Lee County Economic Development; Michele Hylton-Terry, Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency; and Todd Raines, NFI Masks. They will be on a panel discussing business development in Fort Myers and Lee County.

There is limited availability for this luncheon to allow for distanced seating.

$25 for members; $35 for future members.

Masks required in public areas of the hotel.

The Chamber reserves the right to reschedule in-person events based on COVID-19 data.