Member Spotlight: SW FLA Floorcrafters, Inc.

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“Floors so lovely you will want to dance on them”

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SW FLA Floorcrafters, Inc. is a quality flooring company established in 1989 by Vince Spallone and Kevin Knapp. Kevin and Vince each have over 30 years of experience in the flooring industry. Together they started SW FLA Floorcrafters, Inc. in hopes of providing customers with well-priced, quality floors.

SW FLA Floorcrafters says, “We like to offer the best possible price and quality of work to each individual customer,” whether you are looking for traditional, contemporary, or the very popular hardwood floors.

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SW FLA Floorcrafters’ showroom has a wide variety of flooring options to choose from that can suit any lifestyle and budget. In the future, SW FLA Floorcrafters, Inc. hopes to expand their showroom to include an even larger selection of flooring for their customers to choose from.

Welcome to the Bonita Springs Chamber, SW FLA Floorcrafters, Inc.

SW FLA Floorcrafters, Inc. Website

Young Professionals Announce 2016 ‘In Your Future’ Summit

By: Christine Ross, MBA, MS, CCE, IOM, President & CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council

This week I’d like to share with you a special event that our vibrant group of young professionals is planning. The Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals are gearing up for their 2016 “In Your Future” Summit, as a follow up to their inaugural event in 2015 which was a roaring success. The theme, “In Your Future,” relates to developing a YP’s personal and professional future, as well as how they can be proactive and influence positive growth in our regional community. The goal is to get their eyes trained on the future, and to talk about how they can engage and become better leaders, managers, community builders and collaborators!

On Wednesday, June 22, 2016 from 12:30 to 7:00 p.m. young professionals will engage in a multitude of leadership activities at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Cohen Center. From 12:30 to 5:00 p.m., over 250 future leaders will come together, with career and community growth in mind, to be energized by dynamic speakers, breakout sessions, and networking breaks. After an afternoon of eye-opening advice and invigorating conversations, the event will unwind with two hours of networking, a.k.a., “Schmoozapalooza,” from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  Attendees will enjoy cocktails and appetizers while building their professional network with fellow career-oriented YPs!

I am thrilled about this exciting program and know that the young professionals who attend will benefit immensely.  To purchase tickets or sponsorships for this event, visit www.BonitaSpringsChamber.com/events or call us at (239) 992-2943.

Gone fishing

By John Benkert

John BenkertGone fishing…well not without your social security number!

My son is getting ready to head back to college for his junior year and I know he loves to fish so I thought it would be nice to go spend some time fishing with him and do some talking and some thinking.  I don’t have a fishing license so I went to the web to get one.  To my surprise when I went to apply they asked for my social security number.

I paused for a minute and thought about why they might want to have and store that information.  I mean I have a valid state driver’s license, wouldn’t that number be better?  The main reason identity theft today is so easy is because of the power of the social security number.  Of course that raises the question, “Why is that number the key to my identity” it certainly isn’t why it was created.

(Skip this paragraph if you aren’t into history lessons!) The US Government in 1936 (by the way that is the same year sun tan lotion and the electric blanket were invented) came up with the unique nine digit number to help employers.  Here is a direct quote from ssa.gov:

“At its inception, the SSN’s only purpose was to uniquely identify U.S. workers, enabling employers to submit accurate reports of covered earnings for use in administering benefits under the new Social Security program. That is still the primary purpose for the SSN.” 

Data breaches are real.  Identity theft is real.  My wife and I both have had our social security numbers compromised multiple times and each time it was nothing that we did.  It was someone else’s lack of security processes, understanding of technology, or just plain laziness.

Billions of dollars are spent every year on cyber security tools, training, and processes.  Why don’t we do something less expensive over the long haul and start using something to identify ourselves other than a nine digit number created 80 years ago for a different purpose?  What could we use instead you ask.  I don’t have the answer to that and unfortunately I am not willing to give up my social security number to go fishing and think about it.

Join us for our 2016 Power Networking Lunch Series

By: Christine Ross, MBA, MS, CCE, IOM, President & CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council

As we head into summer, the Bonita Chamber is increasing our professional development programming for area businesses to make the most of the slightly slower local season.  Our “Power Networking Lunch Series,” which runs through November, features a diverse selection of speakers and topics we think will add value to your day.  We begin each event with speed networking and strategically arrange seating so we know you’ll leave having connected with at least ten professional peers in a meaningful way.

Each of these lunch programs takes place at Artichoke & Company located at 11920 Saradrienne Lane, Bonita Springs, FL 34135. Doors open at 11:00 a.m., with a 30-minute speed networking session beginning at 11:15 a.m., and the luncheon wrapping up at 1:00 p.m. The 2016 Power Networking Lunch Series schedule of presenters is as follows:

  • April 20 – Air Trek
  • May 18 – Media Vista
  • June 15 – DR Horton
  • July 20 – Diamond Oaks Village
  • August 17 – Wiebel, Hennells & Carufe, PLLC
  • September 14 – Blount Law, PL
  • October 19 – Physicians Regional Healthcare System
  • November 16 – Lee Memorial Health System

This professional development series is designed as a continuing education opportunity for the business community in combination with structured networking so participants can develop peers, collaborators, mentors, business partners, and especially customers. I am a huge advocate of continuous learning and professional development and allow my staff to embark on their own opportunities throughout the year.  I encourage your company to do the same whether it’s with classes at the Chamber, through professional associations or even by encouraging the attainment of advanced degrees.

We hope you can join us for at least one of our Power Networking Luncheons. Register to attend by visiting www.BonitaSpringsChamber.com and clicking on “Chamber Events” on the top of any page, or call (239) 992-2943.

Road trip develops alliances in the ‘Windy City’

Christine Ross - HeadshotI took part in a recent Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance attraction visit to Chicago. As one of the SWFEDA’s partners, I was able to meet commercial Realtors from all over the United States and talk to them about the virtues of doing business in Southwest Florida, one of the most businessfriendly states around.

Participants in CCIM’s conference were warm, friendly and very interested in knowing about our region. We were particularly pleased to find that the CCIM members from Florida are a very highly respected contingency within the group.

As an attraction strategy, I think SWFEDA Executive Director Eric Berglund’s instincts were brilliant. The program allowed us to network and develop relationships with commercial Realtors who deal day in and day out with large corporate clients. Many of them may already be winter visitors here. We were able to talk about why corporate outposts in Southwest Florida are such an affordable and intelligent concept.

We talked to them about a scenario we all know is common. Their corporate client already rents or owns a Southwest Florida condo. Our persquare foot office costs are less than half of what they pay in the “Windy City.” By opening an outpost in Southwest Florida for a finance or technology division, everyone can enjoy the weather and lower overhead. Most important of all, the winter getaway can easily become a cost-effective hub for the work environment throughout the year.

I just got back on one of the many daily direct flights between Fort Myers and Chicago and can tell you it was a breeze. How many locations in the U.S. can you say that about when you venture forth on a business trip? Not too many. I think the friendship with our pals in the “Windy City” is poised to grow. ¦

— Christine Ross, MBA, MS, CCE, IOM, is president and CEO of the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council.

April is a great time to join our network!

By: Christine Ross, MBA, MS, IOM, President & CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council 

Community business members: If you have been on the sidelines waiting to get involved with our growing Chamber, now is the time!  Our spring membership campaign is in full swing and we are offering exclusive limited-time benefits to new members. Happening now through April 29th, if your business joins the Chamber you will receive a listing in a New Member advertisement in The News-Press Coastal Life and be included in the Chamber’s New Member Spotlight email distributed to over 8,100 contacts (one lucky new member will also be randomly selected for featured position in this email). In addition, your business will be listed in 5,000 printed copies of the 2016 Beautiful Bonita Springs Visitor Guide & Professional Directory insert and online version at www.BonitaSpringsChamber.com.

We are proud to say that we were named the 2014 Chamber of the Year by the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals and are the region’s only Five-Star Accredited Chamber of Commerce. We have created a strong platform to provide your business with maximum exposure, connecting you to over 120 networking events each year, over 21,000 annual Visitors Center walk-ins, over 12,000 monthly website visitors, and over 60,000 member employees we represent.

Stop in to our Visitors Center and meet my dedicated my team.  They work hard for your business every day and thrive on helping you succeed!  It would be my pleasure to personally connect with you and answer any questions you may have about our government affairs or economic development efforts. We are the only local organization fighting for free enterprise and your rights as a business owner, 365 days a year.  If you are interested in joining or would like more information, please reach out to us at (239) 992-2943.

 

Developing relationships in the “Windy City”

By: Christine Ross, MBA, MS, IOM, President & CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council

This month I took part in a Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance attraction visit to Chicago, Illinois.  As one of the SWFEDA’s partners, I was able to meet commercial realtors from all over the United States and talk to them about the virtues of doing business in Southwest Florida, one of the most business friendly states around. Participants in CCIM’s conference were warm, friendly and very interested in knowing about our region.  We were particularly pleased to find that the CCIM members from Florida are a very highly respected contingency within the group.

As an attraction strategy, I think SWFEDA Executive Director Eric Berglund’s instincts were brilliant.  The program allowed us to network and develop relationships with commercial realtors who deal day in and day out with large corporate clients.  Many of them may already be winter visitors here.  We were able to talk about why corporate outposts in Southwest Florida are such an affordable and intelligent concept.

We talked to them about a scenario we all know is common.  Their corporate client already rents or owns a Southwest Florida condo.  Our per square foot office costs are less than half of what they pay in the “Windy City”.  By opening an outpost in Southwest Florida for a finance or technology division, everyone can enjoy the weather and lower overhead.  Most important of all, the winter getaway can easily become a cost effective hub for the work environment throughout the year.

I just got back on one of the many daily direct flights between Fort Myers and Chicago and can tell you, it was a breeze.  How many locations in the US can you say that about when you venture forth on a business trip?  Not too many.  I think the friendship with our pals in the “Windy City” is poised to grow.

Give Back with FGCU Give Day 2016

Have you heard about the upcoming FGCU Give Day? It’s 24 hours of philanthropic giving in support of Florida Gulf Coast University, to take place on April 26.

Here at the Chamber, we experience what they call #TheFGCUEffect – with our outstanding interns! Our interns are juniors and seniors from the university, and while they’re here they certainly make a BSA Interns for FGCU Give Daysplash. From communications majors to hospitality and resort management, the interns we hire from FGCU are dedicated, intelligent and passionate in everything they do. They embrace criticism, accept praise and wholeheartedly work to improve themselves for their future careers.

With over 2 million volunteer hours logged and nearly 50 percent of all alumni living within Lee and Collier counties, FGCU students have shown their dedication and pride for the Southwest Florida community. They’ve given to the community, and now it’s time for the community to give back to them.

#TheFGCUEffect highlights how the university has impacted Southwest Florida and beyond over the past 20 years. How has FGCU touched you?

No matter how big or small, or if it’s for scholarships or Athletics, your donation will make a difference to FGCU’s 14,000 students, and show the world that you believe in the future of FGCU.

Show your support for #FGCUGiveDay on April 26- wear blue (to work or to school) and give green! Go to Give2FGCU.com to make a donation or learn more. Go Eagles, and #WingsUp!

Today is a great day to BELONG!

What is the real value of joining a Chamber of Commerce? The Schapiro study found that, “When consumers know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 44% more likely to think favorably of it and 63% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.”

2016 Member Plaque Digital Version

There’s no better time to Belong! This spring, we’re offering several incentives. New members who join the Chamber by April 29, 2016 will receive a listing in a New Member advertisement in The News-Press Coastal Life and be featured in the Chamber’s New Member Spotlight email distributed to over 8,100 contacts.  In addition, new members will be listed in 5,000 printed copies of the 2016 Beautiful Bonita Springs Visitor Guide & Professional Directory insert and the online version at www.BonitaSpringsChamber.com.

For more information or to become a member, contact Breanne Winter, Membership Representative at Breanne@BonitaSpringsChamber.com or (239) 992-2943.

Southwest Florida is working to improve college and career readiness

By: Christine Ross, MBA, MS, CCE, IOM, President & CEO, Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director, Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council

I want to highlight the FutureMakers Coalition’s work this week.  This is a wonderful five county effort to improve students’ prospects to achieve post-secondary employment and a career path that includes a livable wage and opportunities for growth.  With a husband teaching middle school and a son working with New York inner City students to prepare them to take the SATs, student achievement is a topic my family and I spend a fair amount of time discussing.

We recently reviewed some sobering figures in a report on the college and career readiness of US High School Graduates. The report compared actual student performance against college and career ready measures and found that only 21 percent of high school students in the state of Florida met all the recommended college readiness benchmarks. Although it was great to see that high school graduation rates continue to rise, we can’t let our students’ educational careers end there. The level of education demanded by today’s jobs, especially in the growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), exceeds the supply of available workers.  And this is the opportunity; train students for jobs that exist today.

The FutuerMakers Coalition is an important regional initiative, undertaken by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, with support of the Lumina Foundation, to create and support a culture of aspiration, completion and careers. It’s amazing to see so many of our local leaders and organizations all working together to implement innovative solutions to ensure educational access and attainment in our region. I encourage you to do your part in supporting our local education initiatives like the FutureMakers Coalition. To learn more about how you can become a FutureMaker, visit www.FutureMakersCoalition.com.