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Stressing good news with the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce

September 21, 2020

Stressing good news with the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce


   Last week’s monthly Third Wednesday Coffee had a slight increase of attendees as people become more comfortable and compliant with the new safety procedures. No one wants to be sick, no one wants to make anyone else sick, everyone wants business to thrive, so here we are.

The Third Wednesday Coffee - which was sponsored this month by Panther Hollow Dental Lodge - is the long-standing name of the chamber’s monthly membership meeting. This hour-ish long meeting begins at 7:30 a.m. allowing members to attend prior to the start of a typical business day. This is it a time to network, share information, and hear from guest speakers about a myriad of business details.

It can also be a time to set tones. And that’s what we did last week.

The guest speaker was Dave Gammon, Director of the Charlotte County Economic Development Office. Dave is also a member of the chamber’s board of directors, and has an inside track to our economic realities. And the reality is that while there is plenty of turmoil in our current world, things are quite positive in Charlotte County. We needed to receive a big dose of good news, and Dave delivered.

The opening graphic of Dave’s big-screen presentation included four stark photos of what we continuously see and hear about nowadays: The alien-looking, horned, red and orange depiction of Covid-19; the red and orange flames devouring a forest; The red and orange enhanced radar image of Hurricane Sally in the Gulf of Mexico; and the red and orange flames of burning buildings silhouetting throngs of people in the midst of civil unrest. It was a lot of red and orange.

Dave. I had suggested a GOOD news presentation!

But wait. The next image was that of The Little Engine That Could … aka Charlotte County … followed by the positives. And very positive those positives are.

The blue line on a graph of 2020 pending home sales, in comparison with the same data for the past six years, is almost off the chart. And this is not just a use of the phrase. After taking a deep dive bottoming out in April, it was literally shooting up and off the chart, surpassing the colored lines of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

“It’s unbelievable. We had a dip, obviously, when everything slowed down,” Gammon said. “But we made a massive ‘V’ recovering, and are actually doing better than before in homes sales. The stats are amazing and we’re zipping along.”

Our Charlotte County tourism industry is also seeing positives. We all thought and said that this area of Florida is a safe, clean, open air region that people would want to visit again as soon as possible, and that there was the potential for a major increase. But now we have proof. The June 2020 numbers were up 21 percent over 2019. This keeps our businesses humming and our citizens employed.

“Before Covid hit we were having a record tourism year in Charlotte County. It was making news, it was outstanding, and then of course everything stood still.” Gammon said. “Some were thinking, ‘Well, this is the end of the world, this is it.’ But in June our Tourist Development Taxes were 21 percent more than they were last year. When you look at the statistics, things are much better.”

Development in process prior to the issues presented in the opening photos are still proceeding. These include West Port, which surround the beautiful new, and newly renamed, Centennial Park.

“They are building approximately 1,500 homes with about 400 multi-family units, and they are going gangbusters,” Gammon said. “They should be opening models the early part of next year, and are pushing me every day for more land to bring in more residential type units.”

Dave’s theories and thoughts about the current success of Charlotte County are interesting. One point is that while the national average of people in the workface is 63 percent, we only have 42 percent of our residents in the workforce. That means 58 percent of people here didn’t lose jobs, are on a fixed income, and were mostly at home. We are a safe place to be which also offers a high quality of life. We will still be attracting people to our area.

The government also infused funds to help, and it did help.

Dave also touched on the other on-going projects in our community, and exciting new ones in the works. I purposely noticed a little more pep-in-the step of our members as they left to start their business day. Mission accomplished. Thanks, Dave.

I encourage everyone watch the full presentation on the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page at Things are not quite as bad here as the news stories lead one to believe. Very far from it, actually.


Teri Ashley is the executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, now in its 95th year. She can be reached at 941-627-2222 or at