A small group gathered at the Pine Island Art Association in Matlacha Thursday night to talk about the Matlacha Chamber of Commerce.
Matlacha Chamber President Leoma Lovegrove began the meeting by sharing the chamber's tag line "Spend a day in Matlacha" and "Come play in Matlacha" for the whole weekend.
The mission statement is "to promote Matlacha as a destination for shopping, business, ecotourism, fishing and the arts district, and to foster and maintain the favorable relationship with local government community groups and local residents while preserving the unique and artistic qualities of the historic fishing village of Matlacha through the business community."
She explained to the group that the Matlacha Chamber of Commerce is not looking to have an office, due to it staying viral with a large online presence to promote the businesses and activities of Matlacha.
"We really want to be a cutting edge viral," Lovegrove said.
She explained that the idea is to catch individuals before they get to Matlacha.
"We want to become a destination," Lovegrove said.
Although there are only five benefits listed for when members join the the Matlacha Chamber of Commerce, Lovegrove said that list will only keep growing.
Those benefits include a directory listing on the new Matlacha Chamber of Commerce website, which will include hyperlinks to the business website and social media channels; up to 25 pictures posted in a member specific album on the Facebook page; listing in the directory that is given to all members; recognition of becoming a new member on the chamber's website and Facebook page; as well as access to marketing programs created through Lee County VCB and Visit Florida.
Lovegrove's husband, Mike Silberg, shared why it was important to start a Matlacha Chamber of Commerce.
"Matlacha is something that 99 percent of other villages don't have," he said. "We have a historic district. We represent historic Matlacha."
Silberg went on to say that the Edison Ford Estates has partnered with the Matlacha Chamber of Commerce to help promote the area.
He said with the help of various groups, they will have the ability to further promote the niche that Matlacha has to offer.
"This is an experimental chamber," Silberg said. "It has never been done before."
The nice thing about the Matlacha Chamber of Commerce, he said, is it helps those who are not social network savvy.
"This would be a perfect opportunity for them," Silberg said, because all a member has to do is send his or her information in and the chamber will take care of the rest.
Secretary and Treasurer Karen Moran said the website will include an optimized Google search for members.
The service is free for Matlacha businesses and non-profit organizations and a $35 fee for businesses outside of Matlacha to become a member.
Vice President Mike Shevlin said the Matlacha Chamber of Commerce is something that has been talked about and brought up over the years. He said the chamber is good because it gets people together and provides them the ability to talk about things that are needed and going on.
"A great communication for us," he said of the Matlacha community because it keeps everyone in the loop of what is occurring. "I think it is a wonderful thing, it can only be a benefit for us all and our community."
The first event for the chamber, Merry Matlacha, will be held throughout the month of December on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In addition, on Dec. 15, the chamber partnered with Captiva Island and the Edison Ford Estates for a tour that will come to Matlacha. Lovegrove said the day-long trip will bring 140 people to Matlacha.
"Give them a walking tour, serve them lunch and then they are here for 2 1/2 hours," she said.
Merry Matlacha will provide businesses with the opportunity to create specials and offers. Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens will feature Christmas music with Jim Tucke every Sunday from 1-4 p.m., as well as holiday night lights in the garden from 6-9:30 p.m.
Other events during Merry Matlacha include Kip Lawrence's kids concert, Matlacha night lights show, Bridgewater Christmas tree raffle and an 18-foot Christmas tree on display at the Edison Ford Estates throughout December.
Diane Martini of Bridgewater Inn said they are contributing to the Merry Matlacha effort by raffling off a 4-foot tree that bears ornaments from different businesses in Matlacha. She said the proceeds made from the raffle will benefit the chamber.
Tickets are three for $5 and the winner will be drawn on Dec. 15. Tickets can be purchased at Bridgewater Inn and Tropical Treasures.