Movin’ On Up!
If it is true that every community’s Chamber of Commerce wants that Prime-Time Location, where everyone in Town, including visitors and tourists, can easily find them, then the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce recently hit a Home Run!
Beginning this week, the FMB Chamber relocated its office to the former Ocean Jewel Gift Shop at the base of the Matanzas Pass Bridge at 1054 5th Street, meaning every single person who comes onto Estero Island from the north must literally pass right by its door! And though the Chamber has no affiliation with its new landlord, TPI Hospitality, Inc., its relocation may be the first step in Downtown revitalization.
When asked the best thing about the new Chamber office, executive director Jacki Liszak said, “Oh my goodness – The View! There is so much to see, all right through the front door, and of course you can’t beat the Gulf of Mexico. We are the first place people see when they come on the island, and the last thing they go past when they leave. You see all kinds of interesting people and things, and the foot traffic over the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend was unbelievable. We anticipate such increased visitation that we are bringing in an intern from FGCU’s Hospitality Program.”
Jacki feels that the prominent place on Estero Island will allow the Chamber to provide increased services to and for its members. “We will be able to better represent our membership from such a highly-visible location, as we are the first building right over the bridge, and I am very excited about that. This is a prime opportunity to increase our service levels to visitors and guests as well as members.”
The FMB Chamber is still negotiating with TPI Hospitality over the number and location of parking spaces. “We will have several designated spots close to the building, and we will know where those are in the near future,” says Jacki. “You will access them via Crescent Street, in kind-of a traffic circle all the way around the building.”
As for Chamber signage and the shabby appearance of the building’s exterior, Jacki relates that “we will have a Chamber sign up in the next few weeks, and are working with the Town to make sure we do it correctly. People over the next several weeks will definitely witness a little freshening up of the outside, and hopefully it will be much improved by The Fourth of July. When we finish, you will never recognize it, as we want the office to be a gathering place for the community. It has a beautiful deck, and we will add rocking chairs and Wi-Fi so people can come by and visit and Wi-Fi away! It will be the fun and happening place to be, right when you come onto the beach.”
The Chamber move from its former location in the Key Estero Plaza occurred because that site’s new landlord significantly increased the rent. “We could simply not afford to remain there,” explains Jacki. “Once word got out we were scouting potential new locations, TPI Hospitality representatives approached us. I looked over the space, to make sure we would have enough room, and I quickly fell in love with it! The location is the absolute best on the entire island, as every Chamber wants a prominent location in their community, and this more than fills the bill.”
Jacki calls it a “‘Win-Win-Win’: it is a Win for the Chamber; a Win for the beach community because we are cleaning up and bring back to life one of its signature buildings; and a Win for TPI, as someone is actually taking care of and utilizing one of its structures. I felt we were in a low-profile spot at our former location, and someone patrolling the parking lot certainly wasn’t a favorable first impression. I knew when I took over the Chamber last year that we would eventually move to a better area and circumstances simply sped up that process.”
A Happy Wiggle Dance!
Now that the move is almost complete, “we are pleased as punch to be here, proud to be able to help reinvigorate a prominent community landmark, and excited about representing the beach community in a top-notch location in a positive manner,” adds Jacki. The Chamber will host a Grand Opening Celebration for its new office sometime around the end of June, with a specific date yet to be determined. “It will be a Happy Hour-type function, at a time when there will be a great deal of available parking, so like from 5:30 to 7 p.m.”
In contemplating the new Chamber office, Jacki relates, “our whole team is so happy about this building and our future that we are all doing a Happy Wiggle Dance! We all just beamed smiles all Memorial Day Weekend long while we were moving, and now that we are seeing progress, those smiles keep getting bigger, as we are so thankful for this opportunity. We strive to set up the Chamber to move up into the future, and getting a prominent location is a critical part of that success, and my hope is that this will be a long and prosperous and positive relationship for everyone. Islanders seem to be happy about the change, and people tell me that this is great, and are giving us high-fives and thumbs’ up, with no one yet saying anything negative about the move.
Jacki thanks everyone who sacrificed part of their holiday weekend to assist with the move, whether it was carrying boxes, cleaning the new location, or assembling office furniture. “Now that we are giving this space a fresh new look, stop in to see us and say hello!”