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Bud Nocera names Jacki Liszak next Chamber president

Nocera announced his intention to retire in December.

July 27, 2016
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It will be six months until Jacki Liszak fully takes over the Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, but she's already got ideas.

In the July chamber newsletter, two-year president Bud Nocera announced his intention to retire from his position in December and move to Dunedin. He also tapped Liszak, owner of the Sea Gypsy Inn, as his replacement.

"I strongly believe the next chamber president should be of the island," he said in his president's report.

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Current Chamber president Bud Nocera said he hopes his successor, Jacki Liszak, will hold up the Greater Fort Myers Area Chamber of Commerce reputation in the area for being the “fun” chamber.
“If you know people who belong to several chambers, you'll have people tell you, we're the ones who have fun,” he said. Nocera and Liszak attended the chamber's annual Bowling Bash, which was 60s-themed this year. It was held at the Beach Bowl and Pelican Arcade Thursday, July 23.

Liszak will spend the next months shadowing Nocera as he passes on his presidency, taking the helm at the chamber during a challenging year for businesses.

The construction on Estero Boulevard and water quality issues have been hard on the tourism-driven island, Nocera said.

"We're concerned. I'm concerned as a business owner, and concerned for others," Liszak said.

Once she's in charge, Liszak wants to tap into the knowledge of the community - current business owners or not.

She plans to reach out to folks on the island during season, grabbing up both full-time, retired and seasonal residents alike to funnel new and fresh ideas into the chamber.

"If we have a retiree who ran a Fortune 500 company sitting around here, why not get their expertise and get them involved?" she said.

It's not just the snowbirds she wants to get involved with the chamber, it's the younger generations, too. She wants to launch a Young Professionals Group through the chamber for the 20- and 30-somethings who are working on the island. The group would start as a chamber committee but would eventually be self-directed, she said, creating its own mission and events for its members.

"It's a great way to meet people and get that younger energy," she said. "My son's biggest complaint when he visits is that he can't meet up with anyone his age."

Liszak plans to continue pushing for chamber members and residents as a whole to shop and eat locally and help each other succeed.

"I think our town is very strong, and I'm counting on that," she said.

Being involved in the chamber is important for businesses in a slow time. If someone's a chamber member, another member might stop in their business because they have a reason to come in - it helps network the island's small businesses, in Liszak's opinion.

Nocera, 66, said although he and his wife Gail are headed north to live closer to family, they'll be back to visit frequently, and he will be keeping tabs on the island. Nocera, former Visit Florida CEO and Lee County Convention and Visitor's Bureau executive director, spoke highly of his time on the beach.

"I believe working with this chamber has been one of the most rewarding jobs I've had," he said.



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