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Chamber to celebrate 20 years in Cape

By Staff | Jan 10, 2009

By GRAY ROHRER, grohrer@breezenewspapers.com
In the midst of challenging economic times for the city, the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral will celebrate its past next week during its 20th Anniversary Chairman’s Gala.
Chamber president Mike Quaintance said the Chamber helped encourage the city’s recent population growth, and businesses followed.
“The big impact we’ve had is to get more people to come here,” he said.
The Chamber has been pushing commercial interests in Cape Coral since 1989, but a hazardous economic climate awaits city businesses in the immediate future.
Quaintance acknowledged the economic slowdown, but said the city is poised for a turnaround.
“The (Chamber’s) Welcome Center now gets about 30,000 annual visitors. From 2002 to 2003 we were getting 50,000 a year,” Quaintance said.
Whereas the Cape had little room for businesses before a population boom earlier in the decade, the fallout from the housing market collapse has also left plenty of commercial space available.
“Before the boom we had a vacancy rate of less than 1 percent. Now, it’s between 15 and 20 percent, which is normal for a metro area,” Quaintance said.
People will again flow into the Cape in large numbers as they become aware of the low prices brought by the housing collapse, he added.
“The increase in prices escalated so quickly people couldn’t afford it,” Quaintance said of the housing boom. “We’ll guess what? Florida is affordable for everybody now.”
The Chamber’s 20th Anniversary celebration is scheduled for Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. at the Cape Coral Shrine Club.
Past chairmen of the Chamber will give histories of their time at the helm, and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack will give the oath of office to incoming boardmembers and officers.