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Chamber has strong year, set to build on it in 2018

January 3, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce accomplished some things it hadn't in a while as well as some new initiatives brought forward in 2017.

For Chamber President Lenny Cannova, who will remain in the post for 2018, it is a good sign that the positive momentum will continue. He said he would like some help from more than the usual volunteers, a goal that has achieved some progress.

"We hit most of our goals and others we were just a little short on, which we will bring up in 2018," Cannova said. "We wanted more member participation. I put it out that it would increase by 40 percent and it did by 25. I want to get members more involved, because that's how the chamber works."

The Chamber held the Calvin Peete Classic, which was a huge success thanks to the appearance of Peet's widow, and is likely to become an annual event, Cannova said.

Cannova wants to do new events such as a business expo and even a job fair in 2018 so people looking for work can meet with Chamber members and make connections. As for the staple event, the Taste of North Fort Myers, that event has been moved up from April to the end of February.

"We will hit the snowbirds and hopefully have a bigger crowd. More vendors and more sponsors," Cannova said.

Cannova said the monthly gatherings, such as the breakfasts, after hours and business leaders' luncheons, performed strong last year.

About 15 to 20 come to the breakfasts, and the luncheons have increased as well, particularly late in the year. It's the after-hours events that need attention, Cannova said.

"The luncheons are the most important as we have guest speakers and training, so they get more out of those," Cannova said.

As far as membership, Cannova pegged it at about 120, up from 109 a year ago. While Cannova said he would have preferred a bigger increase, he was happy with the retention.

"We held on to the members we already have, and that was a big goal of ours that we hit," Cannova said. "We increased a little bit, fell short on the new members by about 20 percent, but we'll work on that and get it done."

In the upcoming year, Cannova said he wants to get more members involved in events, get more board members, and maybe even get someone who can fill his shoes when 2019 rolls around as there was no president-elect this past year.

Cannova also wants to do more charity work in 2018 to raise money for the Chamber's Foundation, which offers scholarships to high school students who reside in the area, and the local community.

After several years of not having any recipients, last year there were two. Cannova said he wants to get more applicants and donate to more charities.

"The state of the chamber is good. Donations are up, the Foundation is funded well, and we're in really good shape. I'm proud of our board and members," Cannova said. "We're going to do good things in 2018."



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