JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
The start of the 2021 Florida legislative session is quickly approaching, and legislative watchers can expect a jam-packed 60 days.
Session officially begins on Tuesday, March 2 and runs through Friday, April 30. While lawmakers have been in Tallahassee off-and-on over the past few months for committee hearings, March 2 will mark the first time legislators have been fully gathered as a lawmaking body since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Look for lawmakers to tackle a variety of issues impacting businesses during the two month period, including several issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. One measure quickly moving through the Legislature: A bill to create COVID-19 liability protections for businesses.
The House bill has cleared all of it’s necessary committee stops, and is teed up for a vote of the full House in the coming weeks. House Speaker Chris Sprowls has indicated he would like to have the bill approved by the House and sent to the Senate within the first week. A similar Senate bill has been approved by the first of three Senate committees.
The Greater Naples Chamber supports legislation to provide liability protections to businesses and other organizations for damages related to COVID-19. Here’s where we stand on a variety of topics expected to be front and center during the next two months.
WHERE WE STAND
For more information about the Greater Naples Chamber’s 2021 legislative priorities or to learn more about you can get involved, contact Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, the Chamber’s director of government relations, at email@example.com.
ALEX BREAULT, DIRECTOR OF WORK-BASED LEARNING
While educating employers about hiring interns, we typically hear the hesitation in their voices but soon after they hire their first intern, we receive fantastic testimonials like the one from Jenny Gazella.
"When first approached by the Greater Naples Chamber and learning about the NAF Academies internships provided by Collier County Public Schools, I was leery. Did I have time to spend teaching someone the business only to have it be someone who only worked 150 hours?
After meeting with Alex Breault at the Chamber, I decided it couldn’t hurt to at least post an opportunity. I was amazed how fast I had applications and not just that but how professional the students applying were. We ended up hiring Ashley. Ashley is an amazing young woman with big aspirations in the Bio-Chemical field. Nothing related to tourism, however, during her interview she was honest and really looking to better herself all-around. She mentioned how she never thought she would be applying for a position like this but wanted to grow her customer service skills to be able to work with others in her community and learn about handling day to day in-person situations.
We decided to give Ashley a try and I am so happy we did for so many reasons. First, I saw Ashley grow and become more confident in herself as a person and in the position. She was timid at first with the phones and speaking face to face with customers and now she is a natural. Second, Ashley started during a very difficult time for all businesses, in the middle of COVID. She was a great candidate even without the school program but having the program pay for her 150 hours truly helped the business during a difficult time. Third, both Ashley and I felt she was a great asset to the company and after she completed her internship hours we have now employed her. There is not one thing I would change about this amazing opportunity and I am grateful to the Chamber and Collier County Public Schools for all that they do to help students become apart of our community. " -Jenny Gezella, President, Naples Princess
The Collier County Public Schools has grant money available for a limited time only to pay an intern to work for your organization. ($10 an hour for up to 180 hours) To learn more about this opportunity and how an intern can benefit your organization too, contact Alex Breault.
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR, ASHLEIGH DROZ, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF INTERNSHIPS & COOPERATIVE PROGRAMS, FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY
An internship is more than a job. In fact, for many, a work-based learning experience, such as an internship or cooperative program, can be career-affirming or career-altering. Whether a high school student dipping their toes in the proverbial water before diving into a college major, a university student exploring or gaining experience in their intended field before graduation, or a seasoned professional looking to make a career change, these types of experiences can inspire passion, persistence, or a critical pivot in those who will ultimately be the future of our fields.
So how do we ensure that the opportunities we offer will serve as high quality learning experiences for hungry future interns of all ages? By incorporating a few critical components that will both challenge and support them as they expand their professional horizons. Let’s dig in.
First, work together with your intern to create clear learning objectives related to their professional goals and academic coursework. Successful internships always start with clear outcomes. Sitting down with an intern to discuss who they are and where they are headed means you can create an experience that aligns with their end-goal AND yours. You’ll see much more enthusiasm, energy, and excitement. And if you follow through with projects that line up with these goals? Well, you are also bound to see more satisfaction, productivity, and commitment. That’s a win-win.
Engage student-interns in authentic tasks considered meaningful to the organization. Internships can get a bad rap. We often see interns in the media spilling whole-office coffee runs down the front of their suits, filing mountains of paperwork for weeks on end, or picking up the boss’ dry cleaning (think: The Devil Wears Prada). However, a high quality internship experience should instead encourage the practical application of academic coursework and skills development in a professional setting. The best way to do this usually includes hands-on projects that align with your company’s overall mission and everyday efforts, as well as the intern’s career and academic goals. Not only will an intern gain a strong foundation of work experience, but they will also be much happier with their employer – YOU – if they feel they are making a contribution where it really counts.
Provide student-interns with supervision by and support from an experienced professional in the field in which the intern will be working. On the most basic level, a great internship comes with a designated supervisor who has experience in the intern’s area of focus. This is an important distinction to make on many levels! For example, let’s say you are interested in hiring an intern to work on your organization’s social media. My first question to you would be “who currently oversees your social media?” If your answer is something along the lines of “our in-house social media expert”, we’re golden! If your answer is more like “no one, that’s why we need an intern”… well, you are likely looking for a part-time employee or a contract hire. A student needs someone to learn from who is also accessible, supportive, and available to provide routine feedback, as an internship is meant to be a supplement of a valuable education.
Lastly, ensure a comfortable, safe, and empowering environment as a foundation for a student-intern’s experience. Taking stock of the current culture, resources, and physical space of your workplace is an important step before bringing on an intern. We generally consider the physical safety of our spaces regularly, but it is also important to check in with the inter-workplace dynamics, organizational policies, overall expectations, and technology and facilities available to ensure your student has what they need to be successful. If an intern’s basic professional needs are met, they are much more likely to shine!
These components are bound to get you started on laying the groundwork for a successful internship program, in part before your intern even starts! There is always room to improve and evolve as an internship host or supervisor, but these first few steps are bound to carry you and your team – interns included – through the type of experience everyone will benefit from, now and in the future.
To start your internship experience, contact Alex Breault (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Greater Naples Chamber to learn more about engaging in work-based learning and how she can help you implement an internship program.
Guest Contributor, Ashleigh Droz (email@example.com) Director of the office of Internships & Cooperative Programs at Florida Gulf Coast University.
ALEJANDRO CASTANO, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING
The Greater Naples Chamber cultivates economic opportunity for all by providing businesses with the resources and information they need to thrive. As such, the Chamber is proudly offering our FORWARD program, designed by LiveStories to help our community’s businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and access relevant tools to make them successful.
FORWARD is a free online portal that connects local businesses in the Collier County business community to a comprehensive list of resources—grants, loans, credits, offers, and local incentives. It is a one-stop shop for programs and other resources.
The Greater Naples Chamber is committed to helping all businesses, especially small business owners, navigate available resources to help our region's economy get back on track. Together, we move FORWARD.
AMANDA BEIGHTS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
The mission of the Leadership Collier Foundation, of the Greater Naples Chamber, is to activate the potential of leaders to build a stronger Collier County. Despite the many challenges we faced in 2020, we are proud to have kicked-off our flagship leadership program that allows us to accomplish this mission: Leadership Collier.
Leadership Collier is designed to educate local community leaders about our county’s societal and economic successes and challenges, ultimately leading to how we can engage our leaders to make a positive impact. While this year’s Leadership Collier Class of 2021 may look a little different, our outcomes remain as strong as ever.
Thank you to the employers and chamber members who invest in sending their leaders to apply for, complete, and engage with the Leadership Collier Foundation. For more information on the work and programs of the Leadership Collier Foundation, visit our website below.
AMANDA BEIGHTS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
Leadership Collier Foundation Welcomes Leadership Collier Class of 2021
Naples, FL (Jan. 05, 2021) – The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), an affiliate of the Greater Naples Chamber, announces the Leadership Collier Class of 2021. The class will begin their program with a kick-off celebration at Cambier Park from 5-6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7.
Leadership Collier was formed by the Greater 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 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, to work toward the Leadership Collier Foundation’s mission of building a stronger Collier County.
The LCF Board of Directors congratulates the following class members of Leadership Collier 2021:
Chair: Brian Goguen, Barron Collier Companies
Vice Chair: Mary Beth Geier, Richard Schulze Family Foundation
Vice Chair: Anne Frazier, Lee Health
Bill Allen, St. Vincent de Paul, Naples District Council
Theodore Bill, Pelican Wire Company
Jodi Bisogno, Cancer Alliance of Naples
Jessica Brinkert, Moorings Park at Grey Oaks
Meredith Budd, Florida Wildlife Federation
Sean Callahan, Collier County Government
John T. Cardillo, Keith & Bonaquist, P.A.
Dave Carpenter, Supervisor of Elections
Christina Carranza, NCH Healthcare System
Alejandro Castano, Greater Naples Chamber
Charles Chapman, City of Naples
Soren Christensen, Advanced Wealth Advisors
Leroy Christiansen, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners, LLC
Jennifer Clark, Valerie's House
Noel Davies, Quarles & Brady LLP
Deanna Deppen, Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education & Experience Center
Stephanie Driscoll, Collier County Sheriff's Office
Kerri Ervin, Avow
Dave Feightner, Self-Employed - Spectrum Concierge, LLC
Karen Govern, STARability Foundation
Hilary Halford, Collier County Government
Alyssa Haney, First Florida Integrity Bank
Meg Hardt, Arthrex
Mari Hornbeck, Boyette Construction Group
Ann Hughes, Friends of Foster Children Forever
Mia Hyatt, FineMark National Bank & Trust
Tanweer Jamal, John Craig Clothier
Lisa Kahn-Allen, Lisa Kahn Designs
Jacqualene Keay, FineMark National Bank and Trust
Inge Kocher, Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC)
Heather Mazurkiewicz, North Collier Fire Control & Rescue District
Robert Napier, Harrison & Held LLP
Britt Patterson-Weber, Naples Botanical Garden
Thomas Petry, Collier County Public Schools
Tammy Smith, Ave Maria Utility Company, LLLP
Catherine Sovacool, Healthcare Network of SWFL
Sharon Sparrow, St. Matthew's House
David Stallings, Fuller Funeral Home - Pine Ridge Road
Kenneth Thomas, Huntington Private Bank
Julie Van Tongeren, Community Foundation of Collier County
Gwen VanLoo, John R Wood Properties
Kevin Yue, South Florida Water Management District
ALEXANDRIA D. OLSON, MARKETING COORDINATOR
Chamber member, Spectrum Concierge, a home watch and concierge service, has partnered with Fill-A-Bag and received approval from the City of Naples to install a beach clean-up station at Lowdermilk Beach.
What exactly is Fill-A-Bag?
Fill-A-Bag organization was born after winning the Miami Public Space challenge in 2018. Three Key Biscayne residents designed #FillABag stations to empower people to turn daily walks into meaningful beach cleanups.
The whitewashed 6’ post has 4 cobalt blue hooks and provides beachgoers with on-demand reusable bags and repurposed buckets to fill with trash during their strolls. These stations are strategically installed near trash and recycling bins, where collected trash may be responsibly discarded.
Although the initiative was born and raised in Key Biscayne, Fill-A-Bag Stations have been activated throughout Florida’s surrounding coastlines. There are currently over 30 Fill-A-Bag Stations and the first location on Florida’s west coast was activated earlier this year at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. The location at Lowdermilk Beach Park is the first in the city of Naples, with hopefully more following shortly after.
"As home watch and concierge professionals, our job is to ensure our client's homes are looking their best. We wanted to take that same approach with this Fill-A-Bag project and to leave the beaches better than we found them." - Robert Peia, Marketing Manager.
MICHAEL DALBY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
At the Greater Naples Chamber, we continue to see how COVID-19 has impacted many aspects of our economy. While some businesses have managed to push through, most have seen significant revenue losses, many have laid off employees and opportunities for relief are dwindling.
Moreover, there is another less visible toll on our economy--one not seen in storefronts or balance sheets. Business owners and managers are faced each day with making decisions that impact their staffs and even determining if they keep the lights on. It is not unusual for small business owners to have invested their savings, leveraged personal assets and taken loans to build their businesses. Their shops are often also their retirement plans.
Now, their livelihoods are threatened.
The uncertainly of these times has taken a toll on our collective mental health. Small business owners in particular face immense stresses in the face of sometimes unrealistic expectations.
For over 75 years, the Chamber has been the place to go when employers, residents and visitors need help. While much has changed over the past seven months, our commitment to helping Collier County thrive remains the same.
The Chamber stands ready to help employers, workers and community members recover from the lasting impact of COVID-19. While businesses often turn to us for connections to financial and business resources, we can also help connect employers and employees to mental and physical healthcare providers, make employment connections and, as always, give voice to our economy, which allows us to have the shops and services we count on.
We are here to help. Use us – and together we can ensure Collier emerges stronger than ever.
NCH Healthcare System COVID-19 updates and resources
Lee Health COVID-19 updates and resources
David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health COVID-19 updates and resources
Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida COVID-19 updates and resources
The Florida SBDC at Florida Gulf Coast University COVID-19 updates and resources
ALEXANDRIA D. HURT, MARKETING COORDINATOR
Lenkbar, LLC Selected as an Honoree of the 2020 GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch.
The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate Chamber member Lenkbar, LLC for their selection as an honoree of the 2020 GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch! This statewide competition identifies companies expected to see significant growth over the next several years.
82 finalists were announced earlier this year, and the 50 honorees were selected after a final round of judging by a panel of independent judges comprised of past honorees, economic development leaders and corporate partners of GrowFL. Companies were judged on a number of criteria including: growth in number of employees; impact of the business in the job market; increase in sales and/or unit volume; current and past financial reports; innovativeness of the product or service; response to adversity; and contributions to aid community-oriented projects.
Led by President and CEO Erik Papenfuss, Lenkbar LLC started operations in 2012 with three employees and an idea: to design and manufacture safe and innovative surgical instruments. Lenkbar, LLC prides themselves on their continuous innovation and contract manufacturing of medical devices. Their success is achieved through diverse manufacturing capabilities, cutting-edge machining practices, along with their own patented designs. Lenkbar’s growing success has facilitated their expansion into a new 20,000 ft2 state-of-the-art facility near the Naples Airport. Lenkbar, LLC was also a winner of the Company to Watch Award at the 2018 Excellence in Industry Awards™ presented by The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, which recognize Collier County businesses that exemplify innovation, economic diversification, and community enhancement. The Greater Naples Chamber and the community are thrilled to see this exemplary company continue to grow and be recognized.
GrowFL states that from 2016 through 2019, these companies generated $813 million in revenue and added 668 employees, reflecting a 103% increase in revenue and 113% increase in jobs for the four-year period. That translates into a 27% average annual revenue growth and 20% average annual growth in employees.
Even through the pandemic, these companies projected continued growth in 2020, with a 15% revenue increase and 17% growth in employees compared to 2019. If their projections hold, these companies will have generated $1.14 billion in revenue and added 887 employees over the last five years — a 133% increase in revenue and 150% increase in jobs since 2016.
The companies named to the list will be officially recognized at the 10th Annual GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Celebration on February 18, 2021 at the Hammock Beach Resort and Spa in Palm Coast, FL.
AMANDA BEIGHTS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
Last week the Youth Leadership Collier (YLC) Class of 2020 had an exciting community leadership opportunity. After hearing from Garrett Richter, President of First Florida Integrity Bank and Chairman of the Greater Naples Board of Directors (LC, 93 ), and Libby Anderson, President of TalentForce Solutions (LC, 01), at the kick-off training for first impressions and general leadership skills, students were then presented with a leadership project in partnership with the Community Foundation of Collier County (CFCC).
Laura Simmelink (LC '17), explained that a CFCC donor has pledged $10,000 to support student philanthropy initiatives in Collier County. The donor has given YLC the decision on how the students will deploy $10,000 to a nonprofit meeting a community need. The class first read the Community Needs Assessment, then broke into small groups for discussion on how to create the greatest impact in the community. Essentially, the students will decide which funding focus best fulfills “building a stronger Collier County.”
Below are the initial ideas the students have brainstormed, and they will decide from there which one topic they will address:
1) Educating middle school-age children on career options
2) Homelessness in children and the elderly (Those most helpless)
3) Feeding early childhood and Elementary age children
4) Affordable housing for essential workers
5) Housing for families with children
Stay tuned for how this community leadership project continues!
For more information on Youth Leadership Collier (YLC), contact Amanda Beights, Senior Director, Leadership Programs, at (239) 403-2903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.