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Chairman's Gala

Cape Coral Chamber looks back, and to the future at annual celebration

January 30, 2019
By CJ HADDAD (cjhaddad@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It was a night of remembrance at the Palmetto Pine County Club Friday evening. The Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral hosted the 2019 Chairman's Gala, as well as celebrated its 30th anniversary, swearing in the 2019 board and chairman.

Legacy was the night's theme, as numerous past chamber chairmen, many still current chamber members, were in attendance to commemorate the milestone.

"The 30th anniversary marks a major milestone for our organization that we are truly proud of," said chamber President/CEO Donna Germain. "We are in a great place as an organization financially and with the programs and services we offer our members. We are completely debt free as an organization, we are approaching the 800-member mark, we have an amazing group of volunteers, supporters and, of course, staff that make what we do possible, so we have a lot to celebrate this year."

Article Photos

Chamber president/CEO Donna Germain, outgoing 2018 Chairman Joseph Francioni and Bill Jacob, new chairman of the Board.

CJ HADDAD

The chamber's storied history was brought to life in a moving video package that highlighted the legacy of founding members, those who have positioned the chamber where it is today and those who continue to guide the organization into the future.

"Being able to celebrate this milestone and recognize the people who helped us get here means the world to us," said Germain. "So often we all get caught up in the day-to-day and rarely take the time to celebrate our accomplishments and hard work. That is what our Chairman's Gala is all about. It's our chance to say thank you to everyone who supports us.

"They have all left us a legacy to live up to, a legacy to carry into the future as the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral continues its mission as a champion for business and advocate for community."

Chamber Awards were presented by Germain and outgoing 2018 Chairman Joseph Francioni.

Awards included:

Board Member of the Year: Trish Lassiter, LCEC

Board Member of the Year: Kim Morris, Jones, Haber & Rollings

Trustee of the Year: Denise Perchall, Accesspoint HR

Member of the Year: It's IT

Volunteer of the Year: Angela Gartin, Badgers Business Solutions

Government Affairs Committee Member of the Year: Gloria Tate, Raso Realty

Membership Development Committee Mem-ber of the Year: Lou Peppe, Lou Peppe Business Services

Education Committee Member of the Year: Chrysten Foley, Nova Southeastern University

Welcome Center Volunteer of the Year: Fred Nelles, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Realty

Chairman Emeritus Award: Brett Bisbe, B2 Technology Solutions

"Chamber Champions" included All Power Electric & AC, ACRA Electric, CenturyLink, The Aubuchon Team of Companies and Coral Ridge Funeral Home, Cemetery and Cremations.

The award that invoked powerful emotions came via the Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award, that went to recently lost Cynthia "Cindy" Gallagher.

There was not a dry eye in the room as Germain read quotes from friends and loved ones about Gallagher, whose daughter Darby was in attendance to accept the award on her mother's behalf.

Gallagher passed away due to ovarian cancer in November.

"Cindy was a special person, tough as nails, but wore her heart on her sleeve when it came to community, goodwill and stewardship. For example, she was the inertia and the passion which developed Jr. Leadership Cape Coral. She represented the finest of us Cape Coralians" - Mike Quaintance, Chamber President '98-'15.

Germain announced that the chamber will fund a $1,000 scholarship in Gallagher's name to a Junior Leadership Graduate, with more details to follow as the application process continues.

Finally, Francioni, along with Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman, passed the gavel and administered the oath of office respectively to 2019 Chairman Bill Jacob of CenturyLink.

"Bill has been an invaluable member of the chamber for many years," said Germain. "There is no doubt that we will have another successful year with him as our chairman."

"I'm grateful, excited and humbled," said Jacob of his new title. "This is a great organization, and I'm very thankful to get the opportunity to lead it into 2019."

Jacob said his journey with the chamber began with the Leadership Cape Coral class, and has grown into volunteer positions, coupled with CenturyLink's close connection with the organization.

What he enjoys most about being a chamber member is the tight knit, almost family bond the members share, Jacob said.

"What I'm most looking forward to in 2019 is some of the new special events we have coming up for the community," he added.

The chamber offers businesses many different opportunities to grow and network, something Jacob is focusing on during his tenure.

"We offer a lot of different things that a lot of small businesses don't know about," he said. "If they have a question about law or zoning, we have a first-hour-free attorney, where they can get free advice for an hour. Businesses also get annual ribbon-cutting ceremonies, new member mentorship, lunches, networking after business hours - where they can meet new people and help grow their business."

Today, the chamber has nearly 800 members, keeping them informed of issues affecting the business community, holding monthly membership meetings and conducting other business-after-hours networking events.

Since 1993, there have been more than 650 Leadership Cape Coral graduates and more than 500 Junior Leadership Cape Coral graduates since 2002.

The chamber plays host to numerous special events throughout the calendar year, such as the Cape Coral Farmers Market, which has, for the last 25 years, brought more than 200,000 visitors to the South Cape; the Holiday Festival of Lights; Taste of the Cape; Freedom 5K; Women's Leadership Conference and more.

In the past, the chamber also has been involved in Red, White & Boom, Celebrate Cape Coral, Cinco De Mayo and countless others.

Though its true inception came in 1965, when Edward B. Quirk's small storefront served as headquarters, it wasn't until 1989 when what is known as the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral today was formed by the Cape's business community following a merger with the Fort Myers Chamber in '87.

The chamber has two welcome centers, one at Del Prado Boulevard and Cape Coral Parkway, as well as a location inside the FOS Furniture Store at Del Prado Boulevard and Pine Island Road to better serve the residents and visitors to the north side of the city.

The offices serve as the welcome centers for Cape Coral and a resource for residents, visitors, newcomers and future residents.

"We hope to continue to grow and give back to the community. I would love to be able to expand on our programs, services and event and, of course, grow our membership," Germain said. "I would also love for us to be able to build a new welcome center. We have been here for many years and would love to have a new facility, so we can better serve our members and visitors to Cape Coral."

- Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

 
 
 

 

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