Justin Brand

Justin Brand

Editor’s note: Teri Ashley has enthusiastically offered the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce weekly column space to incoming board president Justin Brand. Her regularly scheduled column will return next week.

When Tony Smith, the current board president, approached me almost a year ago to become the president-elect of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, I was first stunned.

I quickly became excited knowing that I could take all of my previous experience and knowledge that I have gained on the board for the past five years and transition that into the president’s role.

Then suddenly everyone began facing a new reality and a new normal. As time passed and businesses began adapting, I started to look at our business community and noticed how we all came together to help one another, sharing tips and tricks, offering services and expertise to create signage, safety shields for many reception areas, changes in the way marketing is done and the increased use of social media to conduct business.

It was at that moment that I was able to land on a slogan that I felt would be representative of the chamber and of the community, and that slogan will be introduced to our membership on Friday at the 95th Annual Luncheon.

Throughout the 95-year history of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, our county has experienced many triumphs and tragedies, and through it all our business community has reigned supreme. This last year has proven to be no different for many businesses. The chamber and business community needed to adapt quickly to many changes in business practices literally overnight.

It has always been the focus and priority of the board of directors and chamber staff to remain the beacon and support for our local businesses. Through the course of this year, I am proud to say that our chamber has done just that by providing informational posts about businesses offering specific services, adapting to social media to provide networking opportunities, and keeping the business community apprised of the different financial assistance programs.

Your chamber will continue to support our businesses with innovation fueled with caring. There has never been such an important time for chamber membership and for you to take advantage of all the benefits offered; the chamber is here to support the health and livelihood of businesses in Charlotte County.

As the incoming president of the chamber, I want to build upon the strengths and leadership that Tony has demonstrated over the past year. I hope that everyone has had the opportunity to experience the new website and ChamberMaster that was rolled out this past year, as there are many more ways for you to be active within your membership.

This allows you to take control of your business profile by updating your information and promoting your business services. This is your membership and the chamber is here to help you and your business take advantage of all the benefits such as:


• Listed and linked with a map on our new website receiving thousands of views each year;

• Inclusion in our annual Community Guide and Membership Directory, which is distributed across the county, and is available in both chamber offices, at the Punta Gorda Airport, and other high-visibility locations. To be unveiled Friday, the 2021 edition will also be in digital magazine format to reach thousands of new residents, visitors and customers;

• Inclusion in our weekly email newsletter, Business Online, which provides members the opportunity to submit a paragraph of 90 words or less of advertising or announcements each week, and keeps you informed about various chamber and community initiatives;

• Allowing us to continue working with our local, state and federal government entities to monitor the business climate, building strategic partnerships with other organizations, and continuously working toward our mission to advance the prosperity and general welfare of our business members and the community they serve.

• Attending optional seminars, luncheons, committee meetings and free business counseling;

• And your membership plaque and Better Business Bureau decal highlight that you are a credible and dedicated business.

As we begin a new chamber year this week, and hopefully a year of less adversity, it is my goal that we keep the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce in the forefront of our business community by providing more opportunities such as increased networking and including more ways for you to be involved to promote and expand your business through education.

As you work toward building your businesses to become stronger than ever, just know that the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce is here for you every step of the way. The local businesses in Charlotte County make up the backbone of our community. It is the support that our business community provides to different organizations and activities where we can see a more cohesive community develop together.

Justin Brand is the incoming 2020/2021 board president of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce. He is the director of community engagement for the Charlotte Community Foundation.

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