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NFM Chamber 2.0 gets back to its roots

January 22, 2020
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce is looking to make its mark by appearing at more events while also ending and restarting events they did for years on their own.

The monthly Business Leaders Luncheon at the Shell Factory was another brainstorming session where it went over ideas on how to remain relevant in today's business climate.

Among the things they considered was to attend the Cracker Day Rodeo, not only to promote itself but also to see if they would join the business organization.

"As you drive on Bayshore, unless you see the sign or find them on Facebook, how to do find them?" asked John Gardner, Chamber president, adding that if the Lee County Posse joined as a 501c3, they could get a better rate.

Garner also discussed bringing back two big fundraisers that Chamber had done for years, but discontinued.

One was the Celebrity Waiters, which was brought back two years ago before being put on the shelf. Gardner said traditionally the celebrities were candidates running for office.

"We've had some celebrities, but in election years candidates paid entry fees and get themselves some exposure," Gardner said, adding that he lost $250 after he offered a waiter a dollar for every push-up he could do.

The other is the Honorary Mayor of North Fort Myers race, where candidates raise money for charity, with the one bringing in the most becoming the honorary mayor.

The last time it was done was 2015, when Doug Dailey won the honor.

"It was the most successful fundraiser we ever did. One year we brought in close to $25,000, but we changed it after that and it kind of petered out," Gardner said. "It's time to bring it back."

Gardner also said he would sunset the Taste of North Fort Myers. He said food trucks have became more popular and many restaurants have found it difficult to locate there for the day.

If it comes back, it will likely be something entirely different, like a rib rodeo or a food truck event.

Taste usually included a business expo, and it will probably remain as a separate event. Gardner said they have been successful in the past.

"These community events drive revenue, but also brings us exposure to bring us members," Gardner said. "We need revenue and we need members."

One of the ways they attempted to draw new members was through a membership blitz they held Friday, featuring breakfast and lunch during a three-hour quest to sign up 15 new members.

The Chamber offered discounted rates, from $250 to $199 for new members.



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