Christie Betancourt, CRA. (Patty Brant/Immokalee Bulletin)
The Immokalee Chamber of Commerce held its monthly breakfast April 6 at Lozano’s Restaurant with a number of important speakers sharing. President Danny Gonzalez reminded everyone of the Harvest Festival celebration coming up on April 23 and the softball tournament for IHS scholarships and 5K Run. He also gave a big high five to the Immokalee Relay for Life at the Sports Complex and the April 16 Earth Day 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Pepper Ranch Preserve. Mike Sheffield and Maria Garcia Pizarro with Collier County Communications discussed better communication between county government and local residents. Mike had 12 years with Collier County Managers Office when he went to communications, which includes TV, Website, public records and media relations. Maria has come on board to help get the message out to ethnic residents like many in Immokalee. Maria has one year with the county and welcomes the opportunity to reach Spanish speaking residents and help them work through county red tape. She said she was raised here in a farmworker family and her father struggled because he did not speak English. She said wants to be here for non English speakers to get answers to their questions. “It’s important to me,” she commented, adding she needs to make it happen. The office also has a Creole-speaking employee. She is in Immokalee every Wednesday at the Career Center, 150 S. 5th Street. Call 239-252-8113. On April 26 6-8 p.m. chamber members are invited to the after hours event at the Casino to socialize and network. Mike Dolby, Naples Chamber President, was on hand to talk about bio economic development and taking business to the next level. He said he sees the need more outreach to Eastern Collier and to work toward education for job opportunities. Dr. Marshall Goodman talked about the culinary accellerator coming to the airport, which will be a tremendous help to entrepreneurs with vision. The Naples business accellerator is already going strong and he said they “want to bring that success to Immokalee.” The Immokalee accellerator will be located in a 5,000 square foot facility by he airport that belongs to the county. The idea is to “take Immokalee’s primary assets to the next level,” he noted. Pam Brown of the Citizens Advisory Board reminded everyone that the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) would be having an extraordinary meeting in Immokalee that they would not want to miss. CRA’s Christie Betancourt backed that up with her input on the need for sidewalks, drainage and so many road projects. Byron Donalds, Florida House of Representatives District 80 candidate, underscored the importance of water, immigration and agriculture among the big state level topics, saying he is studying the issues.
Pam Brown at the Chamber breakfast. (Patty Brant/Immokalee Bulletin)
Two other candidates, Randy Cash and Bill McDaniel, who will face each other for the District 5 commissioner seat, were also on hand. Elva Santos of the AARP talked about training in nonprofit agencies for those over 55 years of age to be employed. She said she was born at Devils Garden. She hopes to have an office in Immokalee one day and cited the for need more federal money. Suzanne Fundingsland of the UF Extension Service drummed up some excitement for the monthly Ciclovia. The next two will be on May 7 and June 4. Chamber President Gonzalez reminded everyone that, “It’s a community thing” and that they should be proud of what’s happening in Immokalee.