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Open for business (except today) as we rebuild customer and visitor confidence

May 25, 2020

Open for business (except today) as we rebuild customer and visitor confidence 


The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce offices are closed on this Monday, and it’s hoped you are all able to find a few moments for reflection and relaxation on this Memorial Day 2020. When you do visit with us, you will notice a few changes as we continue our support and advocacy of the entire Charlotte County business community.

The Business Plan

Just as we have encouraged all businesses to do, the chamber created and implemented a specific COVID-19 Preparedness Business Plan. The plan was created from a template provided by Peter Keating with the Small Business Development Council (SBDC) at Florida Gulf Coast University. (His office is actually located with us in Port Charlotte)

The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all staff members, volunteers, and visitors. To ensure that, we have developed our plan. All staff members (well, the three of us) are all responsible for implementing the plan. Our goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our buildings, and that requires full cooperation of staff, the board of directors, visitors. Only through this cooperative effort can we establish and maintain the safety and health of our staff members, volunteers, and visitors.

Our staff members are our most important assets. We are serious about safety and health, and keeping our staff working with us. We were all involved in this planning process by sharing concerns, suggestions, and feedback via email, text messages, phone calls, and staff meetings conducted following social distancing guidelines. Our plan includes a three-level Emergency Operations Action Plan which was developed and implemented on March 15, 2020. Thank goodness, we only got to the second level.

As we again open to the public, the business plan is in place. It follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Florida Department of Health (FDH) guidelines, and federal OSHA standards related to COVID-19. It addresses hygiene and respiratory etiquette; engineering and administrative controls for social distancing; housekeeping – cleaning, disinfecting and decontamination; prompt identification and isolation of sick persons; communications and training that will be provided to staff and volunteers; and management and supervision necessary to ensure effective implementation of the plan.

The Port Charlotte office

  Our location at 2702 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte has been staffed and operating every day throughout the pandemic. The only difference was that staff members were the only folks allowed in the building. But that all changed last week when the lobby again opened to visitors.

But no so fast. There are new protocols in place for your health and ours.

Thanks to board member Bob Miller, with Boyette and Miller Construction and Development, we now have a beautiful new glass partition affixed to our lobby countertop. We are requiring that anyone feeling ill in any way to not enter the buildings. Face masks are required, only two people are to enter at one time, the six-foot distance between everyone is to be maintained, the countertop hand sanitizer is to be used liberally, and all trash is to be placed in the designated waste basket.

See? It’s not so bad. We can still provide business member recommendations and referrals, and offer visitors directions and useful information about our community.

The Punta Gorda office

This was a good time for our location at the stately and historic Freeman House in Punta Gorda to undergo a little bit of maintenance work before reopening shortly. The same timely protocols will be in place there as we proceed with even more community events in this beautiful setting.  There are big plans in the works!

We have always had an office in Punta Gorda, either in our own buildings or by leasing space from the city. We have proudly operated two offices simultaneously in both Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte for more than 40 years for the benefit of our entire community.

Not so many glitches after all

You aren’t going to believe this, but we logged 800 viewers of our Facebook Live event last Wednesday. Board president, Tony Smith, CPA, with Ashley Brown and Company CPAs, and board Vice President of Membership, Steve Lineberry, with Premier Photographic Events cohosted with me. Producer extraordinaire Marie LaBrosse with WKDW FM kept everything rolling. And we really did almost look like the Today show!

There were some tiny issues, but hey, it was live. As much as someone tries to discreetly lean far to the left, reach under a table to find their purse, then rummage around in it blindly with one hand to retrieve their sunglasses, while still smiling and nodding at the camera … that’s exactly what it looks like.


   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