Meet Your Neighbor
North Fort Myers Neighbor Living special feature: The Chamber’s Wendy Murray is passionate about North Fort Myers
Wendy Murray became the executive director of the North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
But luckily, she was ready to take on the challenge.
And she passionately believes in her community.
“The governor ruled that the chamber was a nonessential business, so we had to shut down,” Murray said.
So she volunteered and worked without pay for five months.
In September, Murray started back with the chamber part-time, as Lee County and North Fort Myers began to open back up.
Out of all the things she does with the chamber, Murray loves supporting local small businesses the most.
“As an owner of small businesses, the most favorite thing in my job is helping small businesses, whether it’s through marketing or social media, all those kinds of things,” Murray said. “That’s my favorite part of the job.”
Murray began Affordable Cremations, No Place Like Home Senior Care, which she later expanded, and Senior Life Magazine.
Her background also includes various management positions with The Breeze Newspapers, where she was instrumental in the founding of print products including the North Fort Myers Neighbor.
A couple of years ago, Murray decided to retire from day-to-day operations.
She mentioned to Chamber President John Gardner that she was a little tired of staying home.
“He said, ‘Hey why don’t you come help the chamber out?'”
And the rest is history.
Some of Murray’s goals include adding more events, more members and growing the North Fort Myers business community.
Murray has also been involved in the North Fort Myers Rotary and on July 1 she’ll become president.
“I’m very excited about starting that,” she said. “I love Rotary. I think it’s just a great service organization.”
Murray has been a Rotarian for about two years.
Even though much of the community had to shutter its doors for a while, Murray says North Fort Myers is starting to come back out of it.
“I think the community is doing great,” she said.
Murray was also the North Fort Myers Chamber’s president in 2006 and 2008.
“It was kind of a volunteer position as opposed to the executive director, which is paid,” she said.
Some of the first things she wanted to do when she took over in March 2020 were to grow the chamber’s social media presence and to bring back signature events.
“We used to have a successful Celebrity Waiters event in August,” she said. “We haven’t had that in a few years. In the past, we had an honorary mayor. I think it’s been six or seven years since we did that.”
The kick off for the Honorary Mayor will be Oct. 1 and the gala will be during the second week of November.
The Calvin Peete Golf Classic also will return in October.
One of Murray’s other goals for the chamber this year is to focus more on the business community.
“I want to help businesses now that are currently having a difficult time finding and hiring the right person,” she said.
For Rotary, Murray would like to increase club membership, build more awareness for Rotary in North Fort Myers and develop some new service projects to raise money for the community.
“We did a travel raffle that was very successful,” she said. “I would like to bring that back or some sort of travel event raffle. We give toys away to disadvantaged children in North Fort Myers, bell ringing for the Salvation Army, just a lot of good things in the community.”
Murray says the business community in North Fort Myers is really diverse because there are so many small businesses.
She loves the challenge of helping them grow.
“And you know, it’s really a low investment,” she said. “Chamber membership is only $250 a year. I help write press releases, help with branding, and there are opportunities to attend breakfast, lunch and after hours events each month.”
Murray moved to North Fort Myers from South Fort Myers in 2001.
And there’s no place she’d rather be.
“I live on the water,” she said. “I love the waterfront community in North Fort Myers. I love the fact that I live on the water and one lot from the river. Boating is great and yet I feel like I’m in the middle of shopping and restaurants.”
“I love the small town feel of North Fort Myers.” NFMNL