Saturday evening was a very memorable night, especially for those who left as Business of the Year winners. For those that missed it, here we go:

Small Business of the Year — WhitCo Insurance Agency

Medium Business of the Year — Boyette and Miller Construction Inc.

Large Business of the Year — Carmelo’s Restaurant

Non-Profit of the Year— C.A.R.E. (Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies)

Newcomer of the Year — Profiles Boutique

Pinnacle Business of the Year — Gettel of Charlotte County

Our full-hearted congratulations go out to all the winners as well as the other finalists who made the judging this year so incredibly tight. Handing out awards like this is always so very bitter-sweet as every Business deserves their moment in the limelight, but this year, all the scores landed within 3% of each other! If you didn’t walk away with a trophy this year, make sure you repeat your application in 2020. Three other awards were handed out that night too. Nanette Leonard won Diplomat of the Year for the 99th time! (Well deserved, by the way!) Donna Archibald won Volunteer of the Year, and, posthumously, Don Royston received the President’s Award for his lifetime of service to our community. Lee Royston, Don’s wife, accepted the award on his behalf. To everyone involved, it was good to enjoy a night of such great camaraderie and friendship.

Tonight, we are excited to conduct the ribbon cutting for David Sussman Photography. David has become infamous around town for his depictive photographic imagery of our area. He now has a studio and the ceremony to officially open it will take place tonight at 5:30 p.m. at 5240 Duncan Road, Punta Gorda. All are most welcome to attend. RSVPs to 941-639-3720 please. Tomorrow night join us as we also cut the ribbon for Fawcett Memorial’s grand opening of their new Orthopedic & Spine Unit at 5 p.m. Come to the hospital’s valet and they will guide you to the ceremony. Also, tomorrow, is our September networking lunch at La Fiorentina, with networking starting at noon and the lunch program starting at 12:30 p.m. The cost is $15, but you will need to call us today on 941-639-37201 to check on availability as, at the time of writing, only a few seats remain.

We are very often asked what the success of the PG Chamber is. Obviously, there is not one driver – it’s a community thing. People also assume that as head of the Chamber I am the sole face and voice — wrong! Those who know the worker bees at the chamber office will know that no one person stands ahead of the rest. It’s the combined energy of staff, our Board and our membership that make the magic. Throw in a tad of British humor and an accent that reaches out, and you have a winning combination! Chambers are like families and they come in a wide variety of groupings. Whichever family you belong to, celebrate it and be the best you can be!

Mark October 25th for our PG Chamber Halloween Party, to be held at Angela’s Café Italiano, in their haunted garden. The party will start at 7-11 p.m. with live music, heavy appetizers and Happy Hour all night! Attendees get free entrance into the costume contest, being judged at 9 p.m. BOGO house wines, wells and domestic beers all night. Space is limited so call us now to get your groups together. $60 for a great and thrilling night out!

Our Garage Sales are also coming back. Starting Oct. 12, from 8 a.m.-noon, we’ll be moving to a new location on U.S. 41 — in the home of Comfort Storage (old Walmart location). These sales will run through May on the second Saturday of each month. Cost of registration is still only $15 per vehicle, for which we do the advertising and you receive two parking spaces – one for your vehicle, the other for your goods etc. To reserve, which MUST be done in advance, please call 941-639-3720 or email reception@puntagorda-chamber.com for a registration form.

Looking forward, mark Nov. 2 in your calendars for the Fall Downtown Bash, presented by the Downtown Merchants and the PG Chamber. From 5-9 p.m. in front of the Old Historic Courthouse on Taylor, the Boogiemen will be your free entertainment. Gather your friends, bring along a lawn chair and party PG style in the street. No coolers or outside alcohol please. Food and beverages will be on site for purchase. Want to be a sponsor? Call us on 941-639-3720 for details. Packages start as low as $250.

Take a little time this week to revisit our award-winning website www.puntagordachamber.com and check out the many events on the horizon. The Mindi Abair Festival in November and the 15th Annual Wine & Jazz Festival in February 2020 should not be missed. Get your tickets now as space is becoming limited in certain ticket areas.

Whether you are local or just visiting, we have a weekly e-newsletter that can be delivered to your inbox every Friday full of events, programs and information to assist you. It’s called the Friday Facts (no fake news here!). To sign up, simply click the icon at puntagordachamber.com, call us on 941-639-3720 or email your details to chamber@puntagorda-chamber.com. You’ll never be out of the loop again. There’s so much more to find. Go to www.punta gordachamber.com. Click Quick Links and locate the Friday Facts. You’ll never be so well informed!

John R. Wright is President of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce. Email: jrwrightpuntagorda chamber.com.

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