And, we’re off. We start the New Year at my next door neighbor, Carmelo’s Italian Ristorante (W. Retta Esplanade) for Networking at Noon Wednesday. Please call the Chamber’s Port Charlotte office at 941-627-2222 to make sure there’s room and to make your lunch selection.

On Thursday exhibitors in our 8th Annual Business Expo, scheduled for Feb. 7, will enjoy the kick off training and party at Kingsway Country Club. The how-to-make-the most-of-your-Expo-booth-and-experience training will begin at 4:15 p.m., followed by the 5:30 p.m. party. There will be great information, networking, hors d’oeuvres and adult beverages, so please join us, exhibitors. And, if you’d like to get in the on the fun, call Bob White at 941-627-2222 and register for the almost sold out Expo.

State Representative Michael Grant will be the featured speaker at our Jan. 16 Third Wednesday Coffee. Recently selected as House Majority Whip, Grant will discuss the upcoming legislative session. The Coffee will be sponsored by Chapman Insurance Group. Please join us from 7:15 to 8:30 a.m. at the Event Center for networking, learning and coffee.

The Gilded Grape Winery will host the Jan. 24 Business Card Exchange. Remember to bring a small gift to promote your business. Better yet, buy something there as we continue to Shop Charlotte in 2019!

We have seven ribbon- cuttings scheduled for this month, starting tonight at Nix & Associates Real Estate; tomorrow celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center; Jan. 15 at the First Impressions Foundation; one right after the Coffee for Rescue Air Cooling and Heating; Jan. 23 at the new Arthur Rutenberg/Sandstar Regatta model; Jan. 29 at Island Women Creations, and Jan. 31 at Calista Kitchen & Bath. Please read Business Online at for details on the ribbon-cuttings, which generally start at 5:30 p.m. There are great ways to meet business owners and fellow Chamber members in a smaller, casual setting.

The Gulf Coast Partnership, in collaboration with the Chamber and the Economic Development Office, will recognize businesses and educational institutions who enrich the lives of low income people in our community through employment and supported employment programs such as work training, internships, and apprenticeships so they can join the local workforce. We’re looking for nominees. Please contact me or Angela Hogan, 941-626-0220, ahogan@gulfcoast at the GCP if you know a business who should be recognized.

Hope to see you often this month!

Julie Mathis is executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce. Email her at


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