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The Forefront

October 5, 2020

The forefront. That’s where new board president Justin Brand will keep the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce as we follow his “Businesses Building a Stronger Community” mantra. And he made this very clear at Friday’s 95th Annual Meeting. There will be a lot of hard work, strategizing, and fun as the chamber continues to support the business community.

As we said farewell to our 2019-2020 chamber year at our very safe luncheon event, there were recognitions, goodbyes, and welcomes. Mostly there were thank yous. Lots of thank yous.

The luncheon proceeded in a modified state, but it proceeded once again. Many remember the lavish formal banquets in the old Municipal Auditorium, and there are also memories of the temporary Tentatorium … complete with air conditioned portable “facilities.” But thankfully, members of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce were able to gather at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center for the celebratory luncheon which also serves as the annual membership meeting. Albeit a smaller gathering, a gathering it was!

Peter Keating named annual Pacesetter Award recipient

The prestigious Pacesetter Award was presented to Peter Keating at the 95th Annual Luncheon of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce recognizing his service to the Small Business Community. Over the years he has helped business start, grow and succeed. In turn this has improved the economy of Charlotte County and changed lives.

During 2019 alone, Peter spent more than 1,000 hours consulting with clients at no charge. He helped businesses access loans and capital, helped more than 26 get their businesses started, and helped others learn how to apply for government contracts. From January 2020 through August – in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, Peter consulted with clients for more than 1060 hours, helped businesses received more than $5 million in capital and loans, has helped more than 11 clients start a business, and produced training and Q&As to teach businesses about resources available with the Pandemic COVID-19 disaster.

Congratulations, Peter. You have made a difference.


2020-2021 Board of Directors

Recognized and thanked for their years of service on the board were Carla Nix with Nix and Associates Real Estate Services and Kathy Robinson with Centennial Bank. The newly sworn in board of directors are:

President, Justin Brand, Charlotte Community Foundation; President-Elect: Bob White, EcoSun Homes; Immediate Past President and Vice President of Government Affairs, Tony Smith, Ashley, Brown and Company, CPAs; Treasurer, Colleen Wright, Olsen, Lynch and Wright, CPAs; Vice President of Leadership Charlotte, Mike Martin, State Farm Insurance; Vice President of Membership Services, Steve Lineberry, Premier Photographic Events;

Ian Vincent, Charlotte County Public Schools; Kelsey J. Veitengruber, Farr Law Firm; Melissa Reichert, City of Punta Gorda Administration; James Parish, Charlotte County Airport Authority; David Oliver, McCrory Law Firm; Bob Miller, Boyette and Miller Construction and Development; Angie Matthiessen, United Way of Charlotte County; Toby Lynn, The Mortgage Firm; Matt Jones, Jones Family Insurance; Jason Green, Axis Infrastructure; Dave Gammon, Charlotte County Economic Development Office; Hector Flores, Charlotte County Administration; and Melissa Bergey, Gator Wilderness Camp School.


2020-2021 Sustaining Partners

The Sustaining Partner businesses graciously provide additional financial support to the chamber which, in turn, provides them with more exposure and benefits for their businesses. This allows the chamber to continue with increased promotion, advocacy, involvement and leadership at the local, state and federal levels as we support our businesses and the community we serve.

The 2020-2021 Sustaining Partners are: Platinum Level- Buffalo Graffix (SUPREME Charter Partner); Chapman Insurance Group; Don Gasgarth’s Charlotte County Ford; Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference; Integrity Employee Leasing; Olsen, Lynch and Wright, CPAs; and Sun Coast Media Group.

Diamond Level- Ashley, Brown, and Company, CPAs; Burnt Store Title and Escrow; Charlotte State Bank and Trust (Charter Partner); Farr Law Firm (Charter Partner); Friendly Floors; Nix and Associates Real Estate;  and Panther Hollow Dental Lodge.

Emerald Level- Bayfront Health (Charter Partner); Centennial Bank; Charlotte Community Foundation; Coastal Mowing and Tree; Florida SouthWestern State College (SUPREME Charter Partner); Nolan Family Insurance; Premier Photographic Events; Sandhill Healing Center; South Port Square; St. Andrews South Golf Club; State Farm Insurance-Mike Martin; WhitCo Insurance-Alexia Martin Agency; and Wotitzky, Wotitzky, Ross, McKinley and Young.


Incoming board president to keep chamber in … THE FOREFRONT

Well, that was supposed to be the headline of this column last week. The words “the forefront” were accidently cut off from the headline, with “in” just kind of floating out there.

I even played my own little silent game of fill-in-the-blank. Where is the chamber going to be kept, I pondered. Will it be kept in the loop, in the know, in the race? Certainly not in the dark, in the bottom, or in the background. That would never be the case.

But alas, the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce will be kept in THE FOREFRONT!


Teri Ashley is the executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, now in its 96th year. She can be reached at 941-627-2222 or at