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Essential…if you have to ask…

April 6, 2020

ESSENTIAL … if you have to ask … - Charlotte Sun Column 4-6-20




Last week I wrote that both offices of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce would remain staffed unless a directive was issued for businesses to close and we are confined to our homes. I didn’t use the word “unessential” pertaining to businesses because we all know what’s meant by the term “unessential businesses.”

This week I say, “But do we?”

Has anyone actually researched the definition of “essential” lately? I know everyone is busy, so I conducted extensive research for you utilizing multiple resources to conduct a thorough, unbiased, and factual study. The results were astounding. I present to you now, my findings:  The definition of essential is … absolutely necessary.

With that astounding information, I dug even deeper into my research to include the definition of “unessential.” As it turns out, that means … not absolutely necessary. You’re welcome.

In all seriousness, the confusion and contradiction seems to stem from no clarification on essential businesses to what, exactly. Finances? Health? Quality of life? That is wide open, and therein lies the problem. Each person, business, city, county, state, and country has a list of different essentials.

However, the ESSENTIAL essentials for life are air, water, food, shelter, and sleep. It seems the means for acquiring those needs would also be essential. Otherwise, if you have to ask, it’s probably not.


Essential chamber operations

   Per the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and language in the Miami/Dade County Emergency Order guidance included in the Governor’s Executive Order, chambers of commerce ARE indeed categorized as essential businesses:  “Businesses that supply other essential businesses with the support or supplies necessary to operate, and which do not interact with the general public.”

Our goal here as a chamber is to do all we can to help keep businesses IN business, and keep employees employed. We are to continue following the social distancing and “Safer at Home” guidelines contained in the order as well. Our offices are open with no visitors allowed. Staff continues to rotate one at a time from home.


Free, Free, FREE help is available

   Let’s get those thoughts, fears, and anxieties under as much control as possible! Charlotte Behavioral Health Care has joined forces with the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce to assist all local businesses and their employees, including laid off or furloughed employees.

A free, confidential Chamber Therapy Hotline and a free Chamber Virtual Support Group have both been implemented just for that purpose. This is not for deep-delving or kumbaya singing. This is to regroup as business folks and learn ways to deal with the new stressors in our lives from a highly trained therapist with expertise in these areas.

Call the free Chamber Therapy Hotline at 941-979-0796, Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Friday – 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

   Join the free Chamber Virtual Support Group via conference call each Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.- Call-in number- 978-990-5134; Access code- 753640.

Most businesses are dealing with assisting and guiding current and laid off employees, or you are a laid off employee. Meanwhile, you still want to “be there” for your customers, understand and properly handle the frustrations of your vendors and accounts, all while dealing with the uncertainties of the future and your business.

The bottom line is that this surely can’t hurt and definitely will help. I know I’LL be on the call!


Essential recap

   If I have to write that word on more time I’m going to… well, something. And a special shout-out to Jackson for his assistance with this column.


Teri Ashley is the executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, now in its 95th year, with offices in both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte. She can be reached at 941-639-2222 or at