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Chamber has solid year, expects even more

January 2, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce had a big year in 2018, raising significant sums of money from its Taste of North Fort Myers and Calvin Peete Classic golf tournament, as well as joining forces with the civic association and Rotary to form the North Fort Myers Coalition.

Outgoing president Lenny Cannova said the latter was the greatest achievement, as it becomes a win-win-win for all three organizations.

"That brought on more events we can get involved with and hopefully grow our membership," Cannova said. "We can promote their events and they can promote ours. It creates more involvement with people."

But 2018 was also a great year in that membership grew by 20 percent, bringing total number of members to around 130 following a few downs years in 2016 and 2017.

Leadership will transition in the new year.

Cannova, who served as chamber president for two years, steps aside for Al Giacalone, who served previously as president in 2014 and as honorary mayor for two years in 2012 and 2013.

Giacalone presided over one of the largest growth spurts in the Chamber's history and believes he can continue the positive growth.

"We're going to continue with member engagement, trying to grow our membership. We have some good events planned, so we're going to make those bigger and better," Giacalone said.

As far as the monthly events such as summer Bingo, the after-hours and breakfast at Perkins, those will continue, though Giacalone has not decided on the Seminars & Snacks, which was tried in 2018, with mixed results.

Giacalone said the monthly events have been very successful in bringing businesses into the fold.

As for the North Fort Myers Community Coalition, Giacalone said they are still finding their way through that, having worked together for the Ellsworth Christmas in July event and the Community Christmas event at the rec center.

"I'm committed to them and I know they other are committed to us and each other. We're still communicating and finding our way," Giacalone said.

The major event help fund the Chamber's scholarship program, which has finally gained some traction in recent years as it loosened its requirements and promoted itself a little better.

"We have broadened our reach to everyone and not just North Fort Myers students looking to get into business. We decided to open it to anyone. STEM, the trades, just higher learning," Giacalone said.



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