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Chamber bows out of Red, White & BOOM!

By Staff | Nov 24, 2009

The Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce will not be organizing the Cape’s July 4th celebration in 2010.
Citing the economy, loss of a title sponsor, escalating infrastructure costs and insurance costs, chamber officials said Tuesday the organization will bow out of its role as the primary organizer of Red, White & BOOM!
Chamber of Commerce President Mike Quaintance said the chamber decided to make the announcement early in hope of getting another organization to put on the event, which each year includes food vendors, live entertainment and Lee County’s largest fireworks display.
“With this being released to the public, hopefully we will see someone with the ability to host it,” Quaintance said.
The chamber issued a prepared statement early in the day.
“Our strategic partner in this event, the city of Cape Coral has been a strong supporter of this event. Without their support over the years this event may not have happened,”the statement read, in part.
However the board of directors felt the organization could not continue to rely on the city’s financial support due to the reduced revenue streams the city is experiencing.
“Perhaps by not holding this event in 2010, our citizens may enjoy some tax relief,” the statement said.
Quaintance said the reason the Chamber of Commerce cannot organize the festival is pretty much based on the financial situation they also are facing with fewer sponsor dollars available.
He said even though the city still supports Red, White & BOOM!, the event is hard to put on without the support of the local business community.
If no one decides to take the torch, so to speak, the chamber will reconsider hosting the event in 2011 if the economy changes, Quaintance added.
Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce will continue to host its other events including the Holiday Festival of Lights, Celebrate Cape Coral and the Cape Coral Chamber Farmers Market, he said.
Newly elected District 1 Councilmember Marty McClain said he is obviously disappointed about the news because it is an event that the people of Cape Coral truly enjoy and it may not take place next year.
“I’m not disappointed with them (Chamber of Commerce) because we all have had to make cut-backs,” he said. “It has been a financial struggle for the city and the Chamber absorbed the majority of that.”
When Saturn announced the closure of its dealerships, a key sponsor was lost for the Red, White & BOOM! celebration.
“We have to remember that we lost Saturn,” which McClain said was one of the celebration’s primary sponsors.
McClain said although the city has included Red, White & BOOM! in its budget for 2009-10, it is not nearly enough money for the city to wholly carry the event as one organization, due to the small amount of funds put aside.
McClain said the flip side to this is that the city has been advised that the Chamber is not organizing the 2010 celebration early enough that the “city may pull together and put together the program for this upcoming year.”
“We are going to have to get the word spread, and get our heads together collectively,” he said.
Councilmember Bill Deile has one suggestion — he suggests that the downtown Community Redevelopment Agency take over the event.
“My suggestion is the CRA,” he said in a telephone interview. “They have a substantial budget, and I do have an issue with how they spend their money.”
Some of the CRA’s expenditures have been off-mission, Deile said, adding that a well-attended event held annually within the district would be an appropriate endeavor.
The CRA also has the expertise, he said, pointing out that the agency organizes events and knows how to bring in revenue in conjunction with those events to help offset costs.
“It’s basically held in the downtown” Deile said of Red, White & BOOM!
“It seems to me it’s a ready-made thing for the CRA to step up to the plate.”
The Chamber of Commerce will provide advisory assistance to any organization that wishes to put on the 2010 Red, White & BOOM! celebration.
The chamber wants to help in any way it can for any group that wishes to step up and organize next year’s festival, McClain added.
“This is one of those cases that we, as a group of citizens, needs to come together and make this event work out,” he said.