Remember, we are entering the final straits of our membership special offer.

Through Wednesday, thanks to our friends at Expedia Cruises — Air, Land and Sea Vacations in Laishley Court, there is simply no better time to join our chamber family. We are offering every new member the chance to win a $1,000 gift voucher toward any future travel plans managed by Expedia Cruises. Expedia doesn’t just do cruises, so this is a great reward that can be shared with your staff or family. Any new members joining in the month of September will automatically be entered into a drawing, which will be conducted by our new Board Chair June Amara on Thursday, Oct. 1. The winner will be notified by phone. There is no better time to become a member of this incredible family of businesses that brings you so many opportunities to succeed. What are you waiting for? Give your business a boost by calling us to get an application. Most businesses are less than $25 per month. Just one referral will pay for your annual dues. There is so much that the Chamber brings to your table that we can stand by our motto: Membership doesn’t cost. It pays!

I also would like to clarify a few concerns following coverage of our recent Awards Dinner. Yes, the pictures in the paper did show smiling faces, but what was not made obvious was that these photos were of family/business units who can come forward with masks to receive their honor and took their masks off, just for the photo. All safety protocols were in place and we conducted our event in the safest possible way. Congratulations to all who came and received their accolades and for helping us “lead the way” in adhering to coronavirus-related concerns.

You’d expect me to say all the time: Support your local small business. As a Chamber of Commerce, that goes without saying. However, times have never been so strange for business owners. There is so much uncertainty and malaise. Traditionally, in September, we’d be saying that we would soon be out of the low season and looking forward to the return of our high season. Sadly, no one is yet in a position to say what Shoulder or High Season might look like.

On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the immediate permissions to enter into Phase 3 of re-opening. Regardless of where we are on the political scale, our small businesses need your help. Whether it’s dining out or shopping local, now is the crucial time to “play your part.”

Not all are ready to go out and celebrate, but we are able to find a way to stand by our small business owners and do the best we can to help them get through what is a devastating economic crisis for so many. Please be safe and sensible with your social distancing. Our community has been blessed with better than average numbers, but still our population is older than most. If we all work hard together, we’ll get through this together.

The Board of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce is actively involved in discussing items on the November 2020 ballot that affect our local businesses. Currently, the board has taken two positions:

1. To support fully the one cent sales tax extension, to allow for our city and county to move forward with specific projects that will benefit our community. We recommend a YES vote.

2. Not to support Amendment 2, that will raise the mandatory minimum wage in Florida to $15 an hour. At a recent board meeting it was very apparent that not just the hospitality sector will be affected by this proposal and that every single business will be pressured even more in these difficult times to meet the increased payroll load. We recommend a NO vote

The site has been created to help sale Florida jobs by voting no on this amendment.

We are pleased to announce that our regular networking has resumed, with new social distancing protocols in place. To attend one of our networking meetings, we currently do require an advance RSVP in order to comply with the protocols of our hosts; so remember to call us at 941-639-3720 well in advance, as attendance number are restricted. If you have not registered, you have until 2 p.m. on the day prior to the event to call us to attend, if space is available. No walk-ups please.

Our next meeting is scheduled for 7:15 a.m. Oct. 14 starting at Leroy’s Southern Kitchen, opposite the PG Chamber offices. The breakfast is free to attend, sponsored by Chapman Insurance Agency. Presenting will be Barbara Dolleschal from SMARGASY, talking about optimization of social media reviews and taking control of your review platform, and Rob Humpel representing the Economic Development Partnership of Charlotte County, addressing the one cent sales tax extension on the November ballot.

John R. Wright is president of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce


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