JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, Director of Government Relations
Florida’s minimum wage is on the rise.
The state will see a new minimum $10 an hour on Sept. 30, up from the current $8.65. This comes about one year after Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment to increase Florida’s minimum to $15 an hour by September 2026.
In November 2020, nearly 61% of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment to gradually increase the minimum wage beginning with this year’s $1.45 per hour increase. Beginning next year minimum wage earners will see a $1 an hour increase each year on Sept. 30 until it hits the $15 mark. After that increases will be determined by a formula based on economic data.
Tipped employees will see a direct hourly wage of $6.98 beginning Sept. 30. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the direct wage is calculated as equal to the minimum wage minus the tip credit established in 2003, or $3.02.
For more information about the changes to Florida’s minimum wage, visit the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
ERICA FISH, Public Policy Intern
Florida has been able to recoup more than half the jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Florida Department of Economic Opportunity report.
Florida’s unemployment rate was 5% as of August, compared to the national average 5.2%. That’s down nearly 3% from a year ago, when the state reported a 7.9% unemployment rate.
Florida continues to rebound from the pandemic-related economic downturn. The Department of Economic Opportunity reported recently the state has gained back more than 974,000 of the nearly 1.3 million jobs lost between February 2020 and April 2020.
Nine of the ten major industries – including hospitality, finance and the energy industry – experienced positive year-over-year growth in August, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest gains statewide, adding 137,000 jobs year-over-year in August.
Southwest Florida saw unemployment rates below that of the statewide rate in August. The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metropolitan area saw an unemployment rate of 4.2% in August, down from 7.2% a year ago; while the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area saw an unemployment rate of 4.6%, down from 7.4% a year ago.
Despite the drop in the unemployment rate, employers across the region and state continue to have difficulty finding qualified workers to fill vacant positions. According to the Florida Scorecard, Florida will need 2 million net new jobs by 2030 to accommodate population growth. Collier County will need an estimated 44,032 new jobs, while Lee will need an estimated 103,446 new jobs to meet the needs of the growing population.
Latest Statistics (Florida Department of Economic Opportunity):
Florida’s Unemployment Rate 5% in August 2021
Florida’s Nonagricultural Employment was 8,777,200 jobs in August 2021
Florida’s Employment Gains and Losses 377,700 jobs since August 2020
ERICA FISH, Public Policy Intern
Naples City Council reiterated its commitment to Naples Bay, voting unanimously on Sept. 15 to reaffirm and readopt the city’s fertilizer ordinance.
Gregg Strakaluse, the city’s streets and stormwater director, provided City Council with an overview of the ordinance, explaining how the use of fertilizer impacts the area’s water quality. First put in place in 2019, the updated ordinance specifically targets regulating toxins in runoff, water pollutants, and how close fertilizer can be used near a water source.
Strakaluse said Naples Bay has identified as a water body that was impaired, which means it has not met state water quality standards due to nutrient pollution. According to a staff report, Naples Bay has been listed as an impaired waterbody in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
So, what does this mean for the area?
Any recycled water used for irrigation, which already contains all needed nutrients, does not need additional fertilizer applications. Additionally, all fertilizer applications should be granular; phosphorus elements aren’t allowed unless explicit circumstances are listed by the city; and no fertilizer use is allowed within 10 feet of a water source.
Any damage that can be reversed or reach a level of improvement for the surrounding habitats is an essential consideration for Naples because the city council has the authority to regulate the code, making it more restrictive than that of Florida’s code on fertilizer.
The ordinance will remain in effect through the end of September, as rainy season continues. During this time, the city asks that no fertilizer be used and to refer to their additional information regarding application, management, overuse and misuse.
For more information on the city’s fertilizer ordinance, visit www.naplesgov.com/fertilizer.
GUEST CONTRIBUTER, SUNSHINE ACE HARDWARE
Sunshine Ace Hardware has had amazing success with interns, particularly those recommended by the Greater Naples Chamber. They have always been professional, smart and energetic. This year’s intern Annie Stockham was no exception.
Alex Breault at the Chamber has been a great resource for talented intern candidates. “Alex has always brought us top quality talent for our intern program. One hundred percent of the time we have been sad for our interns to return to school. They have delivered so much value to our business and become great teammates” said Scott Hamblen, Sunshine Ace Hardware’s Chief Merchandising Officer.
Annie is currently a University of Florida student who is majoring in Economics with a minor in Business Administration. She plans to graduate in December and continue her education in graduate school. “I initially thought I wanted to work in data analytics; however, Sunshine exposed me to so many different aspects of their business. I really found that I had an interest and talent in marketing which will help me with my future education and career” said Annie.
Sunshine Ace Hardware has utilized interns from the Naples Chamber in the Support Office that supports their 12 stores from Marco Island to Tampa. “The interns have helped us with data management, sales analysis, creating our company newsletter, developing in-store signs, implementing marketing campaigns and supporting our great employee engagement activities like our Team Appreciation Week event.”
“Sunshine would definitely recommend Alex and the Greater Naples Chamber as a great resource for identifying interns to support your business. Alex is a great resource to help develop the next generation of leaders in Collier County as well as infuse youthful energy into a business today. It really is a win for the intern, the business and the community,” said Scott.
To learn more about the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce internship programs, contact Alex Breault.
JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
With the 2022 Florida legislative session quickly approaching, two Collier County lawmakers encouraged business and community leaders to get engaged in the process early if they want to affect change.
“Don’t call any of us the night before we’re going to the floor (to vote on something) and say, ‘this sucks.’ That’s the worst thing you can do,” said Sen. Kathleen Passidomo. “If you have an issue, you can only affect change as the bill moves through the system. My suggestion: Get to us early on.”
Passidomo joined Rep. Lauren Melo for a discussion about the 2022 legislative session during Wake Up Naples on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The event, sponsored by the United Way of Collier and the Keys, was an opportunity for the lawmakers to discuss their priorities for the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 11, and highlight some of their achievements from the previous session.
The pair also encouraged Southwest Florida business and community leaders to get involved in the legislative process, telling attendees to reach out to their offices with questions or concerns.
“We are all available to you,” said Melo. “A lot of times, we have so much happening. We’re trying to drink from a firehose when we’re up there, and we need boots on the ground back here to tell us ‘this doesn’t work for us,’ ‘please be aware,’ ‘let’s make some changes’ and ‘let’s talk about this.’”
Passidomo and Melo said they once again expect water quality, education and housing to be hot topics when lawmakers convene for their annual 60-day session.
“We need to be really careful and strategic in our wastewater treatment projects across the state. It’s a huge problem,” said Passidomo. “We can put money into water projects, but with more and more people moving to Florida we have more and more septic systems; we have more and more people using our sewage treatment plants. One of the things I’ve learned – and I’m going to work with my partner in the House, Rep. Paul Renner, who will be Speaker when I’m Senate President – is holding local government accountable for what they do with their sewer plants, because we read all the time about failures of plants. We can’t allow that. That’s going to be a big focus.”
Florida lawmakers this year voted to change the way documentary stamp revenue was distributed, allocating a portion of the revenues to the state’s water protection and sustainability trust fund, which would be used for a wastewater grant program, and to the state’s newly created Resilient Florida program, aimed at addressing sea level rise.
While the decision meant more monies would be available for environmental changes, the shift meant a reduction in available dollars for state and local housing trust funds. The legislation, which was signed into law earlier this year, also prohibit lawmakers from transferring local and state housing trust funds to the general fund.
Passidomo and Melo both said they understand the need for affordable, workforce housing, and said they expect it will continue to be a topic of conversation during the upcoming legislative session – and beyond.
The pair also discussed a proposal to build a state veterans nursing home in Collier County, something they both supported.
“I am a Blue Star mom. My son is an Army combat veteran, his last deployment was Afghanistan at Bagram,” said Melo. “I very much support any issues for veterans.”
Collier County was one of the top-ranked counties the last time the state discussed building a veterans nursing home, but lost out because of the location. The county is currently proposing building a facility on county-owned property near Golden Gate Parkway and Collier Boulevard, using $30 million from the local option sales surtax toward the state’s share of construction costs.
“The site that Collier selected is ideal,” said Passidomo. “I feel hopeful that it will happen.”
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AMANDA BEIGHTS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber, announces the Leadership Collier Class of 2022. The class will begin their program with a kick-off celebration at 5-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16 at Gulfshore Playhouse at The Norris Center.
Leadership Collier was formed by the Naples Chamber in 1988 to develop a network of informed citizens prepared to assume leadership roles in our community. The Chamber believes knowledge is a key element and prime motivator of leadership. Consequently, the primary objective of Leadership Collier is to educate local business leaders about the societal and economic challenges facing the community today.
The nine-month program includes 10 full-day sessions. Over the course of 10 sessions participants will fully explore local government, education, economic development, agriculture, arts and more.
“Congratulations to the Leadership Collier Class of 2022 as they embark on one of the most rewarding and impactful experiences of their professional careers,” said Dr. Aysegul Timur, Chairwoman of the Leadership Collier Advisory Council. “While there are so many reasons why our Collier County community is unique and very special, I know for sure that Leadership Collier graduates contribute significantly to our exceptional quality of life here.”
The LCF Board of Directors congratulates the following class members of Leadership Collier 2022:
Chair: Mary Beth Geier, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation
First Vice Chair: Todd Lyon, NCH Healthcare System
Second Vice Chair: Melissa Blazier, Collier County Supervisor of Elections
Rebecca Acx, Ave Maria Utility Company, LLC
Corey Adamski, Naples Fire-Rescue
Kevin Aspegren, Seacrest Country Day School
AJ Attavar, Neptune Products & Services, Inc
Michelle Avola-Brown, Naples Pathways Coalition
Catherine Bergerson, NewsBank, inc.
Jay Border, Naples Soap Co
Yvonne Bourk, Vectra Digital
Alex Breault, The Greater Naples Chamber
Scott Chartier, Arthrex
Patricia Chibende, Opera Naples
Marisa Cleveland, The Seymour Agency
Jason Cooper, Home Base SWFL
Paula DiGrigoli, NCH Healthcare System
Kerry Edwards, FineMark National Bank and Trust Company
Matthew Fletcher, Naples Police Department
Chadd Garcia, Schwartz Investment Counsel
Zannon Garza, DeAngelis Diamond
Linda Goldfield, Youth Haven
Phyllis Hall, Avow Hospice Inc
Becky Irwin, Keller Williams Realty Marco Island
Cari Jones, Elephant Creative Co., LLC
Katie Laakkonen, City of Naples
Kara Laufer, Naples Botanical Garden
Altony Lee, Florida Gulf Coast University
Justin Lobb, Naples Airport Authority
Christopher Lopez, TECO Peoples Gas
Megan McCarthy Beauvais, Boys & Girls Club of Collier County
Barbara Melvin, First Florida Integrity Bank
Mark Middlebrook, Collier County Sheriff's Office
Jennifer Mitchell, State of Florida
John Morton, Humane Society Naples
E.B. Newberry Yarnell, Yarnell & Peterson, P.A.
Derya Onaran, Surf 9
Gloria Padilla, Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA)
Krista Patrick, David Lawrence Mental Health Center, Inc.
Julie Pedretti, Healthcare Network
Leslie Ricciardelli, Collier County Public Schools
Holly Salvatore, Physicians Regional Healthcare System
Hector Sanchez, Loos & Co., Inc
Mike Sheffield, Collier County Clerk of Courts
Kathy Smart, PBS Contractors
PJ Smith, Naples Golf to Gulf Real Estate
Robert Sorenson, Moorings Park
The Leadership Collier Class of 2022 kick-off event is open to the public. To register to attend, visit napleschamber.org/events.
About the Leadership Collier Foundation
The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber, educates local business leaders about the societal and economic challenges facing the community today through the programs and initiatives it governs: Leadership Collier, Associate Leadership Collier, Youth Leadership Collier, The Emerging Leadership Council and Campaign for Leadership. Through the work of the LCF Alumni Association, graduates continue to build alliances, foster goodwill and civic trusteeship that will strengthen Collier County. The foundation also leads the Chamber’s initiative for work-based learning opportunities for local business and students supporting talent development. For more information, contact Amanda Beights at email@example.com.