Celebrating America!

By Butch Swank

I love July 4th! It is my favorite holiday of the year. I know, I know – what about Christmas or Thanksgiving? Listen, I am a human too for the love of Pete! Of course, I love those other holidays. It is just something hard for me to define about the Fourth on why it’s my favorite, but I will try. It’s consistently raining again, and all the plants around Florida are green, happy, and blooming. Summer thunderstorms are beautiful, scary, impressive, and normally brief. Fish are biting left and right. My silly yellow lab, Bo, loves fireworks and literally tries to eat them. He insists that we have him outside with us when we’re doing our little fireworks show and he must be on a leash. Why? I was not joking when I said he wants to eat flaming fireworks. My other dog, Humphrey, is a labradoodle that we got as a rescue when he was about three. Humphrey cowers under my bed like a normal dog does during fireworks – but not Bo, he’s out there with us and he’s drooling. Memorial Day is still a bit of a somber day for me and, I am sure, lots of others. That day we, as a nation, pause to honor and remember those who died to ensure we can continue to enjoy our freedom. The Fourth of July on the other hand, is basically just a giant party celebrating the day our brave founders successfully won their war to pursue their own dreams and gave birth to the greatest nation on Earth. The Fourth offers so many positives, both looking backward with fond memories of the past and forward to what excitement lies ahead. We are so truly blessed to live in America, and I am filled with gratitude to live here with all my fellow Americans. And of course, so is Bo!

I wanted to share that I met with the Lee County Economic Development Office recently and learned about a helpful program that many small businesses can use. It has two components and is primarily aimed at businesses operating in lower-income areas. One part is a technical assistance program that puts a business owner or manager together with an advisor. They review the business and look for specific ways to accelerate the growth of income, customers, and employees. The advisor then has the ability to recommend a grant (it is a grant and not a loan which means it is not repaid) to help the business and the grant amounts go up to $20,000. So, this is a big deal and I hope local businesses take part. The other component of the program aims to help small businesses affected by Covid-19. They offer training and scholarships for programs heavily in demand in Southwest Florida like health care, real estate, construction, and technology. That is a very broad spectrum of businesses that can benefit from having a better-skilled workforce. One more thing, this one is a grant too, so I see nothing but upside for the businesses that pursue this. You can find out specifics by going to the Lee County Economic Development website which is www.leegov.com/arpa/workforce. You can also call their office at 239-338-3161 and ask for Tatum Walker.

I feel compelled to remind business owners and managers that our next Southwest Florida Business Alliance meeting is July 21st at Victory Church from 11 am to 1 pm. We have had to change venues because our meetings have gotten so large. What a cool problem to have! This meeting will be amazing because we have a real-life billionaire, George Schaeffer of OPI Nails, speaking about how he managed to grow a small dental filling company into the most successful nail polish company in the world. This is a remarkable chance to hear his challenges and triumphs and apply these lessons to your own business. We have a tremendous group of people attending these meetings and you will come away from it with great new friends and real-world knowledge to make yourself even more successful. You must register in advance for the meeting. To do so, please go to our website: www.swflbusinessalliance.com

I hope everyone has a fantastic Fourth of July and God Bless America!!!

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