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Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery.

May 4, 2020

Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery. [Charlotte Sun Column 5-4-20]




   Our Phase 1 of the “Plan for Florida’s Recovery Post COVID-19 Emergency” officially began just after midnight. So, do you feel any different? Is the seven-page, State of Florida, Office of the Governor, Executive Order Number 20-112 making a positive impact today? The correct answers to those two questions are that you might not feel any different, but it is making a positive impact.

   Today our local businesses are probably feeling more hopeful than they have in seven weeks. Signs are out, things are refreshed or even updated and redecorated, social distancing is being taken seriously, and those who can open are thrilled to see their employees and customers. For those who can’t yet open, there is hope.

   So, for the love of everything holy to everyone, let’s please don’t mess this up. All it will take is one dumb violation by someone selfish to cause the whole class to miss recess. We hope to progress to Phase 2 soon, but just as easily everything could be completely shut down again. Please study and follow the guidelines, and then go above and beyond to be on the very safest side.


Chambers following chambers

   Like almost every industry, chambers of commerce have their own world. And, no, chambers are not part of government. They are not-for-profit businesses with annual dues-paying members. (I refer to dues as investments, but still.) Chambers can be of any size, from just a few members in a small community to the hundreds of thousands of members with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

   The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce hovers in the 1,000 member range, but that is growing. Chambers are the advocates and voices for their respective business communities, and resource hubs for their member businesses. There are behind-the-scenes activities and communication with other chambers and the sharing of ideas across the country. This happens in various ways including separate organizations for chamber executives, regional communication, and private social media groups. There is so much sharing and information that sometimes my head seems like it’s almost ready to explode. But the data is wonderful.


The Florida Chamber of Commerce

   According to the very strong Florida Chamber of Commerce, our Sunshine State had moved up to the 17th largest economy in the WORLD at $1.1 trillion. It won’t be easy to get anything that big restated. The process must be strategic, while remembering that we did need to take the actions of the past seven weeks to protect Floridians from this virus. 

   Ironically, the Florida Chamber was founded more than 100 years ago due to another health scare – the cattle tick. Helping businesses for that reason so long ago charted the path to helping businesses with this unprecedented global pandemic today. And safety for all must remain the top priority for success.

   Florida is the third most populated state and was growing by 900 people every day. We were creating one of every 11 new U. S. jobs since 2015.  Florida is the 20th most diversified economy in the country and we NEED to support this phased-in approach to getting all Florida business humming again.


Virtual update

   Grab your bingo card! The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a live Zoom “Lunch & Learn” virtual webinar for our members at noon on Thursday with professional speaker and trainer Frank Menard. His Succeed at Any Goal presentation is sure to hit on many helpful strategies as we begin our new normal. Please see the chamber member email or website for registration information.



   Some of the aforementioned chamber professional resources are sharing that business folks are being overwhelmed with virtual information and events … to the point of pulling their plugs.

   Up to now, we have purposely kept our information succinct with a once-daily email of updates, resources, and member business operations. We have remained available 27/7 by phone, email and text.  Our committees and board of directors continue to meet via Zoom, but some entities now prohibit staff from utilizing that platform because of security concerns.

   Please email me your thoughts on virtual seminars, virtual trainings, virtual meetings, virtual networking events, virtual fun-and-games, or virtually any other virtual anything.

   “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” Now if the state would just follow up with a theme song … since at least two are already out there and fighting for mind space … we’d be good to go.


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