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NFM Chamber reopens welcome center

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Oct 21, 2020

From left, Carrie Lund-Cacioppo, Jeff Koehn and Wendy Murray at the reopening of the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce welcome center Thursday. PHOTO PROVIDED


Since March, the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce welcome center has been closed to the public. Its volunteers, many of them up there in years, have stayed home.

On Thursday, the welcome center at the Shell Factory officially reopened with a small get together with members and the board, a small but significant sign that things are slowly getting back to normal.

The center reopened on Monday and will be available to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Executive Director Wendy Murray said that members were coming in to have their collateral material updated, since the place has been closed for so long.

“We’re making sure their information is up to date and that everyone has the exposure they need and we also have new volunteers starting,” Murray said. “It was time to reopen. I was getting phone calls all the time from people needing questions answered about where to find good Italian food.”

The place hasn’t been completely barren. Murray has continued to work from those offices and the North Fort Myers Civic Association has held its meetings there the last several months.

Now that the center has reopened, Murray said they will take safety precautions such as offering hand sanitizer and ask everyone to wear a mask and social distance, since the oldest volunteer is 92 years old.

Murray said the chamber has been doing quite well despite the pandemic. Most members have reupped and a few others have joined as new members.

Chamber President John Gardner said as it was National Chamber of Commerce Day, it was a sign that they had to get moving.

“What a better time than today to open up. It’s important because we finished with Amazon Day, which is not exactly pro-small business. We’re about local businesses and this is a reintroduction after being shut down for seven months,” Gardner said. “We have new volunteers coming on board and we’re excited.”

She also said that the chamber will most likely not hold any in-person events such as the after-hours, and networking breakfasts until the start of the new year, pandemic permitting. The exception will be a Christmas party some time in December.