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COLUMNS

Chairman’s Column: Working and recovering together

Dion Moniz | Guest Contributor
Northwest Florida Daily News

DESTIN – Since my last column, we have all been working together to reopen, recover, and reimagine our paradise called Destin in the wake of COVID-19. It is apparent that restarting our economy safely and effectively is not going to be as easy as we hoped. However, as your Chamber, we have tried our best to help ensure a safe and successful transition.

  • We formed a local taskforce to focus on the reopening and rebuilding of Destin’s economy. The “Destin Economic Taskforce” is comprised of Chamber members and Mayor Gary Jarvis, and we meet multiple times per month. It was during one such meeting that we discovered Gov. DeSantis’s intent to keep Short Term Rentals closed during the “Full Phase I Recovery Plan,” which resulted in our grassroots campaign to try to change the Governor’s mind on this matter. With help from the County Commission, EDC and TDC, he listened!
  • The Taskforce is working with the EDC to help further diversify the Destin and Okaloosa County economy and attract more quality employers and/or employees. We have also continued with our regular agenda of events to keep our members engaged.
  • We continued with our Q&A webinar series with the Protect Yourself from COVID Lawsuits Q&A with Leslie Sheekley, Mark Bonfanti and Galen Novotny. If you missed this webinar or any of our prior ones, you can still listen to the recordings which are all posted at DestinChamber.com. We are still seeking input for additional webinars topics, so send us your suggestions.
  • We had our first in-person Business Before Hours in a long time, on June 12, with a sold-out crowd at Emerald Grande. It was exciting to see so many of you in person again and to hear from Jennifer Adams with Visit Destin-Fort Walton Beach on increased marketing efforts for summer/fall business and the new Venture Out program.
  • The Let’s Talk Shop series continues with Florida SBDC providing its weekly virtual consulting hours for business owners. Business Consultant Diana Jernigan assists Chamber members with business challenges or opportunities.
  • Our Tourism Industry Interest Group hosted Brenna Dacks with VISIT FLORIDA who provided an update on VISIT FLORIDA’s industry resources and its consumer marketing initiatives (both current and future) related to COVID-19.
  • The Ladies Who Launch Committee continued its Powerhouse Women Series, which highlights impactful women in our community. Marcia Hull, CEO of the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, shared her love of the arts and preserving the legacy of Destin matriarch Mattie Kelly.

And lastly, we have continued to keep our members informed via our special email updates, Weekly Wave e-newsletters, and our comprehensive COVID-19 Resource Page at DestinChamber.com.

Again, I am extremely proud of you, our Chamber members, for your grit, endurance and unity during these last few months. I hope you are equally proud of what the Destin Chamber has been doing for you and our community. I will reiterate my prior message of “Hang in there!”… working together, we will recover together.

Dion J. Moniz is the 2020 Destin Chamber of Commerce Chairman.