John Wright, Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce president.

As we start a new year and having already seen further disarray and violence in our nation, there is no better time to reconnect with exactly what a Chamber of Commerce is all about. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, by IRS statute, no Chamber of Commerce can be political or partisan, by their very definition.

Our board of directors and membership come from all political persuasions and are very representative of all parties here in Charlotte County. Whatever their personal political bent may be, the business of the chamber remains to act as the unified voice for businesses in our area and to advocate on behalf of our members to improve the commercial environment that we all operate in.

Secondly, we network business owners with like-minded business owners. We promote their businesses and act as an extension for their own business outreach and marketing.

Thirdly, we are not geographically constrained. Our membership extends to businesses all over the country, but the focus is to promote member businesses who are seeking to do business in and around our entire community.

Fourthly, we undertake a very extensive program of work that brings vacationers, day-trippers, new residents and new business owners to the area. Last year saw some of these events curtailed, but shortly and most definitely, those events and festivals are back on the agenda to reappear in the summer and fall, as conditions hopefully improve for social gatherings.

Regardless of any leaning, you are welcome to be a member of any of our local chambers. Our meeting schedule for January will highlight the importance of addressing several key issues affecting all of our member businesses right now. We encourage collaboration and inclusion that aids all of our member businesses.

As a long-standing partner to the city, county, state and other local entities that include our tourism bureaus and economic development agencies, we are constantly at the table advocating for the betterment of our business environment. Unity is the key word. Working together to provide new and additional avenues of business capital in our area is our paramount focus. Our directors serve voluntarily on a wide variety of other boards — all of which add to the all-important mix of information we can share amongst ourselves to help manage our day-to-day businesses and which can be shared among our members. Come along and see you yourself. Everyone is welcomed into the chamber family. Consider giving your business an extra “arm” by calling us at 941-639-3720.

As COVID-19 protocols remain in place for us all, we are maintaining our own protocols, asking attendees to mask up as we limit to meetings of a socially-distanced 50 people or less. Our first meeting of 2021 takes place at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday at Bayfront Punta Gorda, in the fourth-floor conference room of the annex building.

It will be a great opportunity to enjoy fellowship and hear directly from our hospital’s senior management team what the current medical conditions are and how vaccinations are progressing. As always, we do need an RSVP in advance to or by calling 941-639-3720 before 2 p.m. today. We cannot accept walk-ups if the maximum number of attendees has already been reached. There is no cost to attend and breakfast is provided.

Our January After Hours is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 19. Hosted by the Loveland Center, the venue will be the Wyvern Hotel. Please bring along a gift to promote your business in the drawing at the end of the meeting.

Then at noon on Jan. 27, we are very pleased to confirm that the annual Mayor’s State of the City address will be delivered by Mayor Lynne Matthews at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center, Punta Gorda. The cost to attend is $20 and payable in advance by calling 941-639-3720. By using the event center, we are able to socially-distance the tables allowing for the anticipated number of attendees for this special event. Masks must be worn when not seated at a table. This is a wonderful opportunity for our members to hear directly from the mayor how we fared in 2020 and what is on the table to address in 2021.

On Jan. 16-17, the Sullivan Street Arts and Craft Fair returns for its annual winter show. As an outdoor event, tents will be distanced from each other. Vendors will all be masked and have hand sanitizer available for our use. Visitors are strongly encouraged to mask up, if they plan to attend.

On Jan. 21, we welcome Room by Room Furnishings and the PG Social House located at 258 W. Marion Ave, Punta Gorda, to our community, as we conduct their ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:30 p.m., followed by a 5 p.m. ribbon-cutting on Jan. 22 for Harbor Social, at 212 W. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda. Please call 941-639-3720 to RSVP for either event.

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

Charlotte Sun is a proud Platinum sponsor of this Chamber.


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