While the EDP’s mission has always been to attract, retain and grow business and industry in Charlotte County, during the COVID-19 pandemic the EDP quickly pivoted to addressing the immediate needs of both Charlotte County’s residents and its business owners.
The EDP was among the first to donate to the Charlotte Community Foundation’s Hands Up Grant, which provides emergency financial assistance for essential services like rent, transportation, utilities, food and childcare. Our $10,000 donation was matched dollar for dollar and helped lessen the burden on our neighbors.
Additionally, the EDP provided our members with information on the Small Business Administration’s Express Bridge Loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Members also received links to tutorials detailing the Paycheck Protection Program and the application process, copies of application forms and guidance on whom to contact for assistance with the application process.
Members of the Executive Board and I were privileged to participate in a regional conference call coordinated by Senator Rick Scott. We heard how other local and regional organizations in Southwest Florida are responding to the pandemic. As a result of that call, the EDP partnered with the Charlotte County Economic Development Office to prepare reopening kits for local businesses. The kits contained infection control supplies such as gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer locally produced by Alligator Bay Distillers and Fat Point Brewing. The kits helped prepare businesses for the challenge of reopening while also supporting businesses that had re-purposed their manufacturing facilities during the shutdown. You can read more about the PPE buckets here.
The EDP is committed to providing information and resources to guide our members and Charlotte County businesses as they confront the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve already been briefed by State Representative Michael Grant on the current budget and how funding may change in the face of reduced state revenue. In the upcoming months we will hear from other local government officials and regional economic experts about policy changes, current statistics and the outlook on business performance and economic development.
As one who works on the leading edge of real estate development, I can tell you that developers remain bullish on Charlotte County and are continuing to invest in projects that will provide new jobs, new housing and new opportunities. Charlotte County, its residents and its business owners are resilient. Just as we emerged from the devastation of Hurricane Charley renewed and reinvigorated, we will emerge from this current crisis recommitted and refocused on our shared goal of making Charlotte County an economic force in Southwest Florida.
Geri Waksler, President