Skip to content

Charlotte County is bigger than you think

May 24, 2021

Recently I have embarked on yet another experience to learn more about our community and our region of Southwest Florida as a whole. Last month I begin the first week of Leadership SWFL. This program is much like the Leadership Charlotte program that we all have come to know and many of us have had the opportunity to experience … Go Red!

Over a two-day session where I had the opportunity to meet so many business and community professionals from vastly different careers and backgrounds representing Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties, it became very clear that we have been brought together for one reason.

During the first day of our retreat, the class had the opportunity to get to know one another through introductions, team-building activities and group discussions. At each one of these different interactions I found myself taking many mental notes and by the time the day ended, one message was clear … We are one. Our communities might be different in terms of demographics, economically different and socially different.

However, our struggles are the same, our passion and heart for our communities are the same and our goals of creating a better and stronger community is definitely the same.

The following morning as the class met in the lobby of our hotel to begin day 2, we all discussed the previous day and our excitement for what was about to come. We knew very little except to dress in comfortable clothing because we are going to the local YMCA for activities. So for the most part we knew this would be more team building — much like you would do at a local summer camp.

So, once we arrived and broke out into our smaller groups, we were then led to the different obstacles where you had to work together as a team and complete the tasks at hand. Now keep in mind, we have only just met less than 24 hours prior, so we needed to figure out all of our personalities, strengths and weaknesses on the fly.

In my group there was a total of five individuals and we all worked together to complete each mission and as a group we were successful. During that day I categorized us all as five individuals with different careers, different goals … and just different lives.

As a community of businesses we need to all come together and work with each other from different industries to overcome the obstacles that we all are facing together. Branch out and get to know others in a completely different world than your own, because more often than not you both are fighting the same fight and hitting the same road blocks.

Collaborate with others in the business community, reach out to your counterparts in other counties because you will find that our region, Southwest Florida, is experiencing the same challenges as Charlotte County. And in that sense Charlotte County is bigger than you think.

Justin Brand is the 2020/2021 board president of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce.  He is the the Director of Community Engagement for the Charlotte Community Foundation.