b'A Look AheadWhat a difference a year makes. ResiliencyJohn Gardner I f I had only known last year when I wrote this letter and called it Adapt & Adopt, what the year would bring. Things were chugging along pretty well until Hurricane Ian visited us in September. Adapting to being homeless and losing my office building to flooding was nowhere on my radar.Now more than 5 months into recovery we are coping much better than we were when ripping out drywall was the task at hand. Speaking of drywall, mine was installed this week. My neighborhood was basically destroyed from flood waters but the focus was on the beaches and islands where the storm made landfall. North Fort Myers certainly had its share of destruction, and we know it.Many of our members were affected both personally and in their businesses. It is so great to see the Resiliency that the community has when faced with things like this. Last year I was saying that I hope we get back to Normal. Now I know that the only thing for sure about Normal is that it is a setting on the clothes dryer. We survived Covid-19 AND Hurricane IAN. They say it was a Category 4 because it was 2 MPH below a Cat 5. Well, I am officially calling it a Category 4.99We have lots to be thankful for even though traffic is crazy at the moment. We have more businesses coming to our piece of Paradise. Construction is certainly ramped up, housing sales are still very active and the migration from other states is higher than before. They say we will hit the magic One million population number in Lee County within 8 years. I am saying its more like 3 or 4 at this rate. Just this week our Airport was ranked the NUMBER ONE airport in America. I dont fly as much as I used to but I have to agree that our International facility is the nicest, cleanest, easiest to get to, and the carrier and route options are fantastic. And in case you didnt know yet they have already started a massive terminal expansion project and a huge state of the art new ATCTAir traffic control tower. Record passenger traffic is keeping the Port Authority on their toes and they are doing a great job. So, whats next for North Fort Myers? There are many projects in the planning phase, but you know how that goes I talk about it and it never happens and I look like the idiot. Lets just say that I am confident in these projects. The property formerly known as Hancock Square has been sold and they are redeveloping that former Walmart location into an apartment complex with over 300 units. Merchants Crossing is underway with their residential component. We are FINALLY getting a Starbucks on Pine Island Rd. and many more things are in the works.Last year I reported that your Chamber was stronger than ever, and I am happy to report that It is even better than last year. Our CEO/Executive Director, Wendy Murray is really due some credit. She also lost her home in the flood, and she just moved back in last week, not exactly completed but livable. While dealing with all that goes into rebuilding, she kept chugging away at the Chamber and increased membership despite the storm. For a one lady show, she has assembled a pretty good volunteer team, kept the Chamber running on all 8 cylinders increased the budget & bank balance, increased the size and quality of this directoryand still manages to text me at all hours of the day and night. She has also revived are Sustaining Partners Program and even enhanced the benefits and options. Reach out to Wendy to see how that program can get you more business. The future is bright if you want it to be. You just need to Adapt & Adopt be Resilient.John Gardner,Chamber President4 North Fort Myers Chamber 2023'