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NFM Chamber raring to go in 2021

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jan 6, 2021


The plans for North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce 2.0 pretty much went up in smoke in 2020, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with 2021 now here, the chamber is getting ready to try once again to bring itself to a new level.

Wendy Murray, executive director at the Chamber, said despite the pandemic, they have not had a high attrition rate, and in fact, raised the organization’s profile through social media.

“We had to close during the lockdown, but we opened as soon as we could and did a lot through social media and actually tripled our Facebook fans in 2020,” Murray said. “In November and December, we started a very successful local business campaign.”

The new year offers more opportunity for the Chamber. For one thing, the Welcome Center at the Shell Factory is now open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Most important, the Chamber will hold its annual sales blitz throughout January, with special deals to any new member who signs up. Last year’s event brought in 16 new members, with the goal this year being 20.

Murray said the Chamber will offer more enticements this year to its already low annual membership dues.

“It’s only $250 for our Silver membership. With that, you will got a business card sized ad in the North Fort Myers Neighbor and in Senior Life Magazine, a feature in the Chamber newsletter, kiosk space in the Chamber and two free press releases,” Murray said. “They will also get a ribbon cutting. This is our way of helping businesses in 2021.”

The more traditional events, the business leaders luncheon, business after hours and networking breakfast will begin once again in February.

Other events the Chamber has done will also return after a hiatus as part of its 2.0 initiative. The Taste of North Fort Myers will return in May and September with a different format. Diners will receive discounts for coming to participating restaurants.

There will be new board members and the organization will bring back the Honorary Mayor fundraiser, which they haven’t done since 2014, and Celebrity Waiters will return, likely in the summer.

The Calvin Peete Golf Classic returns, and the Chamber will do four “Lunch and Learn” events starting in February in conjunction with the Business Leaders Luncheon.

Murray said they did not accomplish what they wanted with “2.0” because of the pandemic. The Chamber will try again in 2021.

John Gardner will return as president, and the Chamber is looking for new board members and volunteers.

“We have volunteers coming back and we’ve recruited a couple more. I’m looking for some who can donate a few hours a week to man the desk at the Chamber,” Murray said.

Murray said she is excited about 2021, since a vaccine seems to be on the way for the coronavirus, which should bring things back to normal by the end of spring.

“The vaccines are being distributed. I think the economy is going to recover quickly and we’re excited about things going on in North Fort Myers,” Murray said.