Autumn Brings Many Events To Southwest Florida

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I have several exciting bits of news to share with you. First, I’d like to update you on the results of the first Southwest Florida Business Alliance luncheon we held a few weeks back. I’ve had a ton of positive phone calls and meetings since then. The word got out, and we’ve fielded interest from a wide range of businesses and professionals. The consensus is twofold: all of this activity is because they like our approach, AND they know what is beginning to happen in Lehigh Acres and want to be a part of it. The genesis of our Alliance was focused on Lehigh, so it’s gratifying to be in a position to channel this outside interest right back into our community – seeing this proof of concept occur so quickly is beautiful! I know I sound like a broken record, but we’ve not really been in this position before. Historically, Lehigh has only learned about something new happening after we’d read about it in the paper or saw it on the news. These days, we have successfully put ourselves in a position where these outside groups want to partner with us. They want to hear input from us and how best to do things in our community. It’s truly remarkable what can happen when you thoughtfully assemble a team of extremely capable people. Our group, I feel, represents two of America’s greatest qualities: the first is that we’re a melting pot, and the other is a relentless pursuit of excellence. The melting pot component was, to quote Bob Ross, a “happy accident.” Lehigh Acres is truly a diverse community, and it only stands to reason our Alliance reflects this. Having such a diverse group of smart people provides a broad spectrum of knowledge and, in turn, makes us agile and capable of addressing many challenges. This Alliance started as a fun concept and has quickly become a powerful organization. Getting great people together, everyone respecting each other, and listening to each other – it’s such a simple recipe. We all know that the simplest formula delivers the highest impact very often.

Now we’re on to current business events before I share some other exciting news. First, there will be a Home, Health, and Services Industry Expo at the Edison Mall. The Expo will be on November 20th from 10 am to 8 pm. Businesses interested in getting the word out and meeting new potential clients should attend. All home, health, wellness, wealth, insurance, or service industry vendors are welcome to apply online at our website www.SWFLBusinessNetwork.com or call 239-470-5611. The other upcoming business event is Count Your Blessings, Lehigh. It will be a luncheon format, and all businesses are encouraged to attend. We’ll gather together, say what we are thankful for, eat great food, hear from community leaders, and then each business will have the opportunity to explain what they do and what makes them so great. Count Your Blessings, Lehigh will be November 18th, 2021, at Christ United Methodist Church from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Tickets are $40 per business owner and $20 per business associate, which includes the event and a delicious smoked turkey lunch. Sadly, I will not be the one smoking the turkeys.

My last item has me over the moon. A client of mine lives here in Lehigh, and he’s a world-renowned orchid expert. Recently, he told me about the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami and their Million Orchid Project. My Dad always loved orchids, and I enjoyed tending to them with him on the weekends as a kid. So, I was intrigued by this project and wanted to know more. Fairchild is essentially the worldwide headquarters for the orchid world, and they have some remarkable specialists working there. In the early 1900s, the railroad connecting Miami to the rest of America was completed. Back then, there were native orchids all over the trees in south Florida. The orchids were a wildly profitable natural resource, and with easy transportation being facilitated by the new railroad, the orchids were quickly harvested from trees and shipped up north. As a result, the orchids were harvested so much they reached the point where they could no longer sustain themselves with seeds. The Million Orchid Project aims to fix this by planting a massive amount of orchids on trees again so they can begin getting back to a self-sustaining population. Until recently, all of their work was focused on the east coast of Florida where they now have orchids in trees at schools, road medians, and urban areas.

On a whim, I reached out to Fairchild and asked if they would consider allowing the West Coast of Florida to participate. I was amazed to have my email returned within an hour. Here’s another “happy accident,” one of their two specialists, Kevin Zatkovich, was raised in Buckingham and his parents live right here in Lehigh. Kevin said he loved the idea of having the west coast participate. Fast forward a couple of months, and now Lehigh Elementary School has 25 beautiful orchids all over their school, and we aren’t stopping there. We now have plans to expand the program to other areas within our local community. For example, I’ve spoken with the Lee County Department of Transportation, and we’re now at the permitting stage. That means Lehigh and all of Lee County will begin seeing orchids on the roadways soon. For the time being, I asked Kevin if we could put orchids around my office so everyone could see what the program is about in person. He gave a resounding “Yes!” but also said there would be a lot of them and we would need some help. So, if you like orchids and would like to help plant them in our trees, we’d love to have you join us. You’ll get to meet Kevin in person, hear more about the project, and get orchid advice from an expert as well as practical planting experience. If you like getting your hands dirty and want to help, please contact my office by phone at 239-674-7630, or email me at butch@goodladandswank.com. There are so many great things happening in Lehigh Acres these days, and it makes my day being able to write this, sharing all the good news with you. I’ve received such kind feedback, and thank you so very much for reading these articles!

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