Several significant achievements have been realized over the years by the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral. This month, the chamber will celebrate itself as well for 25 years of promoting and serving business and community with a semi-formal gala event.
It's the 25th anniversary Back in the Black Ball set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17, at the Cape Coral Yacht Club.
"We've combined several elements from our regular luncheons," said chamber president Mike Quaintance. "We'll announce our annual award winners, like board member of the year, chamber member of the year, and introduce our first three Chair Emeritus members."
The chamber's board of directors decided to allow members who had served as board chairperson to continue serving on the board though not actually occupying one of the seats on the board.
"It allows them to still be involved while bringing new members with new ideas to the board," said Quaintance, who identified the inaugural Chairs Emeritus as Wayne Kirkwood, Elmer Tabor and Tom Giles.
Tickets to the Back in the Black Ball are $50 per person and are available in advance through the Chamber of Commerce office. Attire is semi-formal and is open to current and past members and the general public. There's also a silent auction at the event.
"Since it's a ball, there will be some dancing, we haven't done that before," said Quaintance. "There might be a surprise music group show up."
RSVP?to 549-6900, ext. 300 or, for more information, visit capecoralchamber.com/commerce/events/
While the current Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral is celebrating 25 years, the organization started as the Cape Coral Merchants Association before changing the name to Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce. In 1988 the chamber merged with the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce to form the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Florida.
Less than a year later, in 1989, members saw the need to form two new chambers which were named the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and the current Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral.
In 1989 the chamber had fewer than 25 members. Several membership drives were conducted and the ranks grew to almost 200 in a few short years. As the economy boomed, the Cape ballooned to more than 1,000 members by 2006. When the economy soured, membership dropped off considerably, but has recovered recently to about 710.
"It's been a heck of a ride," said Quaintance. "We are proud of several long-running programs like the Festival of Lights and Farmer's Market, which have been around 20 years or more. Farmer's Market grew from a few vendors in a back parking lot to more than 100 vendors at Club Square."
The chamber's Leadership Cape Coral program, started in 1993, now has more than 500 graduates. Its Junior Leadership program followed 12 years ago encourages students to come back to the Cape after college citing career opportunities here. The Advanced Leadership program was started in 2006 promoting better management and leadership skills.
"We're going to bring back the Pub Crawl," said Quaintance. "The board wanted to offer some fun events after a rough five or six years."
Southwest Florida Brochure Distributors was the first member joining in January 1989, followed by Barton Insurance in February. More than 3,750 ribbon cutting events have been held to welcome new businesses to the Cape.