One of our new events is so unique that someone better call Jimmy, or Ellen, or Lester. It’s a first. But more about the later.

December Networking at Noon

The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce monthly Networking at Noon luncheon will definitely have a fun holiday flair this Wednesday. The lunch will be at the Laishley Park Marina Community Room in Punta Gorda and catered by Isabel and Annabel’s Mexican Restaurant. Wear your holiday attire, enjoy the decorations, and take a walk along the waterfront before heading back to work after a nice lunch with your business associates.

Leadership Charlotte Class of 2020 Graduation

Interestingly, Leadership Charlotte documents have always included teeny tiny fine print for the past 31 years saying, “Please be advised that there is always the possibility of unforeseen conflicts that might cause calendar adjustments.” And here we are.

We may be six months behind schedule, but given that we remain in the midst of a global pandemic, it is actually quite impressive that the Leadership Charlotte Class of 2020 will be graduating on Thursday. Hallelujah!

As a refresher, the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Charlotte program brings together 25 chamber member individuals for a nine-month program to gain a more in-depth understanding of the opportunities and challenges in our community. Participants, who include current and future community leaders, commit to monthly day-long sessions and collaborate on a class project.

The Leadership Charlotte Class of 2020 graduates are: Beverly Back, RE/MAX Palm Realty; Craig Badinger, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra; Rosa Benghtt, Granny Nannies Home Health Agency; Bryon Catlin Jr., Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office; Tara Fabiano, Farr Law Firm; Reppard Gordon, Caldwell Trust Company; Cody Henthorn, Tidewell Hospice; Suzanne Herron, Charlotte Community Foundation; Kenna Hubai, Charlotte County Public Works; Claire Jubb, Charlotte County Administration; Garrett Kizer, Charlotte Harbor Construction Inc.; Thomas Klein, Coastal Express Car Wash; Mike McLellan; Mike Mitchell, Florida SouthWestern Collegiate High School; Jay Montero; Michael Presley, MDPresley Financial Services; Adriana Quinones, Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens; Melissa Reichert, city of Punta Gorda; Gaither Stephens, Gulf Coast Partnership; and Brittney Williamson.

Talk about the proverbial 2020 pivoting. With their orientation, ice breaker and the other double-top-secret session completed in September and October of 2019, five of the nine remaining day-long sessions were also completed. Those five began with the Nov. 14, 2019, Community Services Day … and then unexpectedly ended with the March 12 Environmental Day.

The sessions that could be rescheduled with adjustments took place in August and September, and the class participants are still proceeding with their project of constructing a new press box at Carmalita Park in Punta Gorda.

Please wish a big congratulations to LC2020.

Next week’s Third Wednesday Coffee

To our regular attendees, you know the routine. Arrive masked up at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center at 7:15 a.m., grab your pre-poured coffee and pre-packaged muffin, chat with colleagues from an appropriate distance, and claim one of two seats at the perfectly spaced tables before the program starts.

Sit down. Then stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance. Then sit back down.

Am I right?

OK, we’re still going to do all that on Dec. 16. But we are also going to do a couple new things for our members this month, and we are really excited.

And second, this is the biggie, all members are invited to participate in the Inaugural Radio Controlled Car Christmas Parade. Decorate a radio controlled vehicle for the holidays to represent your business and bring it in with you that morning. Parade entrants will be lined up behind law enforcement and first responder vehicles, which will of course lead the parade toward the end of the morning.

There is no charge to participate, and easy social distancing is a benefit of the whole remote control idea. All entrants need to be battery operated and wheeled. In other words, no flying or fuel-powered apparatuses. And this is not a Formula One or Indy Car speed-type parade. I thought I might as well go ahead and throw that out there now as well. Think lap car speed scale the whole way.

I happen to know there are already creative minds at work on special inventions, so let’s have some fun. What do you do when it’s not possible to have your 42nd Annual Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade? This!

We look forward to seeing all of our members and their parade entries at the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce Inaugural Radio Controlled Car Christmas Parade at 7:15 a.m. Dec. 16.

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