Key Largo Chamber Legend April 2023

Monthly News Letter

Legend APRIL 2023 Vol. 25 No. 290 Official Newsletter

Lets Talk Chamber Membership

fees, the chamber’s targeted business community members can access all sorts of events and resources that help your business develop! Most businesses typically join the chamber of commerce to network and grow their business. However, the deeper motivations have changed over the past years, primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic. To run a successful chamber of commerce model for the current times, we have had to investigate what we offer. Consider what you gain by investing in your membership. join this organization because they’re looking to make connections! Meeting with the owners of similar businesses offers tons of opportunities for collaboration. Businesses are nothing without the people who support them. While networking opportunities between like-minded businesses are valuable, as a chamber, we also help hook members up with new clients. Networking Opportunities: The typical chamber member will

Business Exposure: A business needs to do everything possible to get its name out there. Each member should look at their membership fees as advertising and utilize the benefits they receive to help promote their business. Part of your benefits is the investment in a beautiful chamber website that allows current and prospective members, the community, and tourists to see the membership effortlessly. When you see the businesses front and center, you can trust you’re getting the exposure we promised. As a local chamber of commerce, we want to offer all the expertise we can get to the business community. Our job isn’t to be the expert on everything business-related—it’s to be where people find experts! Advocacy: The community we are building goes beyond happy hour events. The Key Largo Chamber has the resources to support our members through all the challenges of running a business. Continue on page 2

Elizabeth Moscynski President of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce

The Key Largo Chamber is a valuable resource for any business—but it also costs money to keep up and run! Your membership is significant to the operations of the chamber. This revenue stream helps us provide networking opportunities, community resources, visitor center information, and more. The membership fees are essential to the survival of the Key Largo Chamber. By paying these

In This Issue Advocacy Update PAGE 3 • Members in Motion PAGE 5 • Events and Calendar PAGE 6 & 7 Sources of Customer and Competitor Insight PAGE 8 • Luncheon Happenings PAGE 11


Continued from page 1

Board of Directors is forging onward with improvements to how

Fundraiser for Domestic Abuse Shelter of the Florida Keys

Suppose a new regulation or tax proposal would harm our business community. In that case, this chamber serves as a united front. Where a business might need help to hear its voice, a whole group of enterprises is not easy to brush aside. money, which is why every business loves a bargain! Your membership can be used to offer discounts on products or events that would be useful to you. You can do this by providing chamber-specific discounts to fellow members; this will also tie in some networking opportunities. Once you have those discounts ready, advertise them with us. We will add them to our newsletter or email them to each member and their associates! People will be happy to see some incredible deals in their inboxes. Another benefit you may not see is what we are doing behind the scenes here at the Key Largo Chamber. 2023 is moving swiftly; now that we are in the second quarter of the year, our focus is heading into the summer, the next season of tourism. The number of tourists entering our Visitors center has increased by 35% over 2022. If it keeps up, we are looking for one of the best years since the pandemic. The Key Largo Chamber Discounts: Making money costs

Friday, April 28th 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Doc’s Diner

business is conducted at the Visitor Center and the Key Largo Chamber. There are two committees focused on these improvements, Membership, and Marketing. Our membership committee is back in the swing under the leadership of Melissa Fernandez who represents J.A. LaRocco Enterprise Inc. & All Keys Concrete, LLC. Under Melissa’s leadership, the committee is putting together details of how the chamber can improve the benefits you receive. Soon, there will be a survey for the members. The committee is looking for answers on how the chamber can improve if you are dissatisfied with the membership and much more. Also, the committee is seeking Ambassadors and other members to join. The Marketing Committee is led by Michael Rejewski, who represents his business, Rojewski & Rebl Group, realtors. Michael and his committee are digging deep into our website, social media, and better ways to promote Key Largo and our Chamber Members. Another committee is the Event Committee, chaired by Henry Menendez of HNO Productions, is lining up for the 4th of July Parade and Fireworks. This year is the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Monroe County. Details are still being drawn, and


Tickets: $30 Adult $10 Child 12-3 yrs. (2yr. free)

Tickets online with QR or in person at: First State Bank @ 97mm OR Tradewinds Office of James Boilini O.D. TEXT: 786-763-2589 Domestic Abuse Shelter Inc. is a 501c3

Your choice - or try all four! • Sausage/Peppers over Pasta • Chicken Alfredo • Cheese Ravioli • Pasta with Marinara Sauce • Salad & Garlic Bread • Soft Drink & Dessert

Special Thanks to:

• Wine/Beer for purchase • Ra ffl e Items • Take Out Available

the committee hopes to get more information out soon. Besides the 4th of July events, the committee is also working on bringing back the Chairman’s Gala. Earlier in this report, there was a mention of advocacy. The Government Relations Committee, chaired by Stephanie Russo of Russo Law and Mediation, oversees the chamber’s advocacy involvement. This legislative season has kept Stephanie and the committee busy following over 60 Bills. From affordable housing to insurance and environmental issues and more, the committee is

looking out for all our business members. The Key Largo Chamber provides many varied benefits for your membership. Ultimately, we are here to help our chamber members’ businesses grow and do all the good we can within the community. However, we cannot do this alone. As a chamber member, you must take an active role and get involved when possible. Networking is the most crucial factor in your membership; consider joining us at one of our events. I guarantee you will meet new contacts that may help you grow your business.


APRIL 2023

around the country started reporting exponential increases in their premiums in December 2022 as insurers cited necessary premium increases due solely to the new law. The Florida Keys are the most popular and most frequently dove reefs in the world, with over 110 dive vessels and more than 40 dive shops throughout the Keys to service the thousands of people who recognize the value of our environment. The state of Florida has over 500 dive operations that are impacted as well. Section 11503 was touted as a remedy for the families who lost loved ones in the 2019 tragic fire of the Conception Dive boat. Section 11503 impacts all small vessel operators and requires these businesses to increase liability insurance coverage to cover potential liabilities.

Section 11503 does not have language to improve safety standards to ensure the policies welfare and safety which could mitigate harmful incidents. There are examples in real time of increases of $160,000 in insurance premiums for a $2,000,000 business. Such increases will place an unusual and unexpected economic burden on the businesses and its owners. Furthermore, a key consideration of public safety policies are a key component that should be a part of the bill. If congress fails to repeal Section 15503 of the 2023 NDAA immediately, the potential exists for catastrophic effects on small businesses, their employees and staff and the thousands of people that rely on their businesses to enjoy our

On behalf of the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, and the organization’s members, we wholeheartedly support our Dive operators request to repeal section 11503 of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. Section 11503 will cause the cost of passenger vessel liability insurance to substantially increase and will threaten to place potential unrecoverable financial burdens on small businesses throughout the industry. Such burdens will force many businesses to close. In fact, dive vessel operators

Government Relations Updates: The following are letters to our elected officials in Washington and other legislative matters the Key Largo Chamber Board is supporting. If you would like more details concerning the chamber advocacy, please contact us directly at 305-451-1414. Letter sent to Representative Gimenez, Senators Scott and Rubio for the repeal of section 11503 of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act:

Continue on page 4

Connecting You To Your Business Goals

Commercial Real Estate Loans Commercial Lines of Credit SBA and USDA Loans

(305) 852-2070

Member FDIC

Equal Housing Lender

APRIL 2023 3

Continue from page 3

and doors) and modal upgrades (methods for processing passengers through the facility) while also improving the efficiency and resiliency of the facility. Given the importance of the airport to our community, we urge your support for the County’s funding request.

and programs that directly assist state parks, state forests and rural counties. • Require VF to match monies from each county on a one-to-one basis while prohibiting any proceeds from TDT to be counted towards the match. Any co-op marketing or local DMO program participation cannot count. • Expands the ability for counties to use TDT for tourism infrastructure for transportation, sanitary sewer, solid waste, drainage, potable water, and pedestrian facilities by removing the requirements to use at least 40% of TDT for marketing as well as removing the independent professional analysis demonstrating the positive impact to tourist related businesses in the county. • Based on calculations, Monroe County is not considered a rural county and would pay 5% of the taxes collected. According to the 2022 taxes collected by Monroe County, 5% is over $600,000. • Hurting Tourism Promotion at the State and Local Levels: • Florida has no state income tax and residents save $1,500 annually in taxes thanks to the local and state revenue generated by tourism promotion driven visitation. • Visit Florida generates a return on investment of $3.27 in taxes for each dollar invested by the State. • The new PCB would

which has been highly successful. • New match requirements contained in this bill stipulate on a “by county” basis, which will make it impossible for Visit Florida to meet match requirements. • Visit Florida would be limited in serving as the statewide brand as only 29 of Florida’s counties would be in the pool of counties eligible to receive the benefit of 75 percent of Visit Florida’s expenditures. This leaves very little for the remainder of Florida’s counties. • Industry members in non rural counties are not going to participate in Visit Florida if they cannot benefit from its programming. • More than 90 percent of all tourism businesses in the state would be served by less than 25 percent of Visit Florida’s budget - thousands of small businesses are negatively impacted by virtual of their location outside of a rural county. • The state lodging industry agreed to levy the Tourist Development Taxes to fund local tourism promotion and this bill is a massive breach of that agreement. • The bill also puts all entities that rely on Tourist Development Tax collections into jeopardy by mandating local referendums every six years. • This bill kills local tourism promotion by making retaining staff and vendors impossible. Who will take a job that could be sunset every six years?

unique environment. We urge Congress to stand up for the environment and business and repeal the overreach and broad negative effects of section 15503 of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. Letter sent to Representative Gimenez on behalf of the Key Largo Chamber Board in support of a fund request by Monroe County for improvements to the Key West International Airport: I write to support a Community Project Funding request made by Monroe County to fund the Key West International Airport Passenger Improvement Project. As you know, Key West International Airport is an economic engine for the community with roughly 1 million enplanements on an annual basis. Visitors and others using the airport provide tax revenue for the community to sustain local government and public education, promote a healthy job market, and benefit Monroe County businesses. Continued investment in the airport is a high priority investment for the long-term benefit of the community. The airport has begun a $100 million renovation and expansion of Key West International to completely transform the airport. However, there is a portion of the project that remains unfunded that will further improve the passenger experience. This request will fund advancements in areas that are still lacking, including structural (leaking windows

HB 7053 - Tourism Development — Now in the Ways and Means committee The Key Largo Chamber

board opposes HB 7053. The proposed bill is devastating to Florida Tourism. We urge our members to investigate HB 7053 further and write letters of opposition to our elected leaders to oppose HB 7053. Summary of this Bill: • Rural counties are required to pay 2% of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections and non-rural counties 5% of TDT to fund Visit Florida, approximately $70 million for 2023-26, then becomes voluntary via vote of governing body. • Requires all Tourist Development Tax levied to be reauthorized by referendum every 6-years exempting TDT collected to cover county bond obligations. • Eliminates proceeds from rental car surcharge to Visit Florida. • Prohibits any state appropriations to Visit Florida. • Requires Visit Florida to ensure that 75 percent of all expenditures go towards activities, services, functions

effectively destroy Visit Florida by reducing it to a shell of its current form,


APRIL 2023

Members In Motion! Thank you Florida Bay Outfitters for hosting our March networking event.

Key Largo Chamber Board Members Henry Menendez, Michael Rojewski, Roberto Alonso and Spenser Bryant.

The Florida Bay Outfitters Team.

Glenn Wright and Jill Kuehnert from Lucky Fish Scuba.

Ellas of Fox LED with Mike from the Key Largo Chamber.

Don Fritch, Key Largo Civic Club and Greg Bianchini, Upper Keys Sons and Daughters of Italy.

Danya and Laura from First State Bank of the Florida Keys.

Dr. and Karen Morrison of Doc on the Rock.

Boomer and Kelly from CYMK Printing Solutions.

Chairman Roberto Alonso and his wife Ana with Nancy, Chamber Team Member, and Maria Barroso of Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate.

Everglades Miami Connection

APRIL 2023 5

Members in Motion April 27, 2023 5:30 to 7:30PM Join us for a fabulous evening of networking and getting to know each other

dƌĂĚĞǁŝŶĚƐ WůĂnjĂ ^ŚŽƉƉŝŶŐ ĞŶƚĞƌ This event is complimentary; however, you are required to RSVP for planning purposes Register online @ For more information call - 305.451.1414

11:30 AM to 1:00 PM Members $ 30.00 pp (Register Early Pre-Registration Member Discount ) Early Registration Closes May 5th ( No Refunds After 5/9/2023) Late Registrations - $35.00 pp (Reservation Close May 9 th at Noon) Join us for an overview of the Red Cross mission, their work in Monroe County, and the Ready Rating disaster readiness program for small and mid-sized businesses. Non-Member Registrations $ 45.00 pp

Make a Connection Social Networking Luncheon May 11 th at the:

Guest Speaker Debbie Koch American Red Cross

Reservations cutoff on May 9 th at 12:00 – No Refunds after May 9th. Seating Reserved for Registered Lunch Guests - Lunch service begins at 11:45AM - Program starts 12:00PM

Register online: Need help with online registration? Call 305.451.1414

Please call 305.451.1414 if you have questions


APRIL 2023

April/May 2023 For event details visit







Key Largo Chamber of Commerce Trustees

April 16







Bayside Inn Earth Day Celebration Week Upper Keys BPW Business Expo 6:00 PM

1st Annual Earth Day Celebration 10:00 AM History of Diving Earth Day Event 10:00 AM POPS in the Park 4:00 PM Arts & Science Festival 10:00 AM Class XXX Graduation & Alumni Reunion 3:30 PM

Bayside Inn Earth Day Celebration Week

Bayside Inn Earth Day Celebration

Bayside Inn Earth Day Celebration

Bayside Inn Earth Day Celebration





27 Members in Motion Key Largo Library 5:30 PM



P Pasta Mangia Italiana

Fundraiser Doc’s Diner 5:30 PM

FKWS Spring Lecture Series 7:00 PM


May 1






Great Decisions 12:00 PM Full Moon Kayak Excursion 6:30 PM








REEF Fish & Friends - Taking Action Against Plastic Pollution 6:15 PM

Networking Lunch Meeting Pilot House 11:30 PM








APRIL 2023 7

Nine Unusual Sources for Customer and Competitor Insight

Accelerating the growth of your business, embarking on new products, growing services, and building marketing campaigns would all be more straightforward if you have customer insight while knowing what your competition is up to.

2. Support and Chat Transcripts: Live chat solutions like ClickDesk are becoming the norm for customer interchanges online, from first-time touch points to general customer service questions. Compared to the phone calls in which you may or may not have recordings, chat transcripts from the live chat are easily searchable, making it effortless to pull insights and interpret interactions with customers. For greater efficiency, organize your customer service transcripts by issue or question. From there, you can review recurring problems to find ways to improve or expand your offering. 3. Ask the Customer: When a concern arises over customer engagement, delivery, product quality, operations, and more. One of the most effective ways to navigate the issue is by asking your customer. Whether through a phone call, online survey,

Since that's unimaginable, you must plunge in and find clever ways to entice insights from your customers and competitors. Marketing metrics and ROI won't help much if there's a widening opening between you and your audience. You need to compare yourself to your competitors' results to show you what's functioning and what's not. Highlighting good experience and quality customer service is necessary for your brand's success. More than half of consumers report they are willing to pay more for products and services from a company committed to positive experiences – including better social and environmental impact. If you think you've already achieved this, think again. 80% of CEOs believe they

have superior service, but only about 8% of their customers would agree with them. Rely on your customers and competitive insights to strengthen your circumstances with the audience and fuel your growth campaigns. Here are nine references where you can find this information: 1. Study Operations: Your operations can provide excellent insight into your customers' behaviors and interests, which generally suggest better ways to serve them. Start by looking at customer touch points and assessing whether your products or services are appropriately positioned to sell.


APRIL 2023

social media interaction, or email, there are few things better than getting insights directly from the source. 4. Talk to Staff: Many of your employees probably interact with customers regularly or observe customer behaviors and interactions in their role with the company. Start a discussion with them to learn more about what factors drive customers to make purchases, and outline some common barriers, frustrations, desires, or friction points. 5. Prospective Customers and Fans: You can also uncover excellent customer insights from people who still need to be your customers. While they may not seem instrumental in developing your strategy or providing information to influence your operations, they offer just the details you're looking for. Engage them to discover valuable tidbits of information like: • How they found you • Why do they follow you on social channels • Reasons they haven't purchased from you yet • Whether they've purchased from competitors before (including who and why they made the purchase) • What would convince them to buy from you instead To get this information, set up an online survey and promote it on your social channels or send it to customer emails if you've captured it. If you're worried about a lack of response, you can incentivize the survey to improve your response rates. 6. Analyze Customer Behavior: Customer behavior can provide tremendously helpful insight if you know where to look and what to

examine. The importance of different factors will vary quite a bit depending on your model. For example, a SaaS company could monitor red flag metrics for friction or trouble points to catch customers before they churn. 7. Real-Time Behavior: Data is a practical way to examine what has happened and why, but relying solely on numbers will only help you salvage lost customers; this is where real-time behavior monitoring would be helpful. Keep an eye on how to click tracking changes while customers interact with you. How are they engaging with your content on social and what convinces them to share? How are they progressing through your sales funnel and onboarding? The most successful companies are those that can analyze patterns in real-time behavior and predict their customers' needs before they are even aware of their changing needs. 8. Social Media: Many social platforms a business uses offer at least some measure of insightful information. The problem is that, individually, there needs to be a uniform collection of data. It's fractured and incomplete. customers and prospects following you. This way, you can go beyond primary demographic data to measure customer sentiment and engagement more easily across your online campaigns. Social platforms are also ideal for evaluating your competitors' engagement strategies to see their interactions with fans, the content they share, advertisements, and more. That's Tools like Hootsuite and Social Mention help you gather data to provide deeper insights into the

the beauty of social media – the public nature of it means there's a ton of competitive insight ripe for the picking. 9. Win/Loss Analysis: Win/loss analysis involves going back to talking to customers – but you're not only engaging your current customers. It would help if you also tried to engage the customers and prospects you lost to your competitors. Doing so can reveal what motivated the customer to choose them over you. If you work with a sales team, cooperate with them to tackle this task since they likely already have established relationships with contacts from all backgrounds. Conclusion: While you can gather insight from various places, the key is separating the wheat from the chaff. You must know what data is essential. Figure out what matters to your customers so you can refine operations, pivot on a new product or service, and develop more efficient marketing campaigns. Stay Connected

Please follow/Like/Subscribe to our Social Media outlets and join us in promoting Key Largo and The Florida Keys...

key_largo_chamber_of_ commerce



APRIL 2023 9

Roberto Alonso 2023 Chairman of the Board of Directors Borland & Associates Your Chamber Board of Directors Angie Alvarez (2022-2024) First Term

Henry Quintana (2022–2024) First Term Henry Quintana Realty, Inc – Owner/Operator Michael Rojewski (2023–2025) First Term Rojewski & Rebl Group Stephanie A. Russo (2023-2025) Second Term Attorney and Mediator

Centennial Bank – Branch Manager

Manuel Alvarez (2022-2024) First term Verdeja, De Armas & Trujillo, LLP – CPA Spenser Bryan (2023–2025) First Term Captain, Monroe County Sheriff Office Kristine Cox (2023-2025) Second Term Playa Largo Resort & Spa - General Manager

Ruth Schrader-Grace (2022-2024) Third Term Keys Core Fitness- Owner/Operator Spencer Slate (2022 - 2024) last term Captain Slate’s Scuba Adventures - Owner/Operator Blaine Vernicek (2023 - 2025) Third Term The Structure Group – Manager

Kevin Donlan (2022-2024) First Term Publix Supermarkets, Inc - District Director

Melissa Fernandez (2023-2025) Third Term J.A. LaRocco Enterprise/All Keys Concrete, Sales Henry Menendez (2022-2024) Second Term Chairman Elect HNO Productions Inc.- Owner/Operator

Rhonda Whitfield (2022-2024) First Term Baker's Cay Resort Key Largo Sales Director

Members Who Joined in March

Cusano Air Conditioning & Heating Inc. Contact: John Cusano Key Largo, FL 33037 305-453-6774

Blue Seas Lawn Care Contact: Ricardo or Amanda Perdomo Key Largo FL, 33037 786-907-5531

We Sell Restaurants Contact: Abby & Michael Spizzirri Address: 101425 Overseas Hwy #293 Key Largo, FL 33037 708-574-4194

10 APRIL 2023

March Luncheon Happenings

Elizabeth Brown, Jill Kuehnert, Jill Miranda Baker, and Della Wheaton.

Jennifer and Lori from First State Bank of the Florida Keys.

Eileen Eadie, VP Key Largo Chamber with Lisa Feliciano of SouthState Bank.

Enrique and Bertha of SBI Windows and Doors.

Cathy Brewer with Suzi Youngberg, Executive Director MarrVelous Pet Rescues.

Mark Brown, Mitchell Pest Services; Karen Taber, GM Pilot House; and Clark Boggs, Florida Keys Wildlife Society.

Margie Smith, Baptist Health and Jeff Pipponen, Coldwell Banker Schmitt.

New Member Largo SaveCoin Laundry.

New Member Cusano Air Conditioning.

APRIL 2023 11 Everglades Miami Connection New Member Blue Seas Lawn Care.


• SmartHub Online Account Management & Usage Tracking • Residential Rebates • Solar Loans • Solar Net Metering FKEC Offers...

• Standby Generator Loans • Meter Surge Protection • Live Outage Map • 305-852-2431

Food For Thought: Upcoming Chamber Luncheon Speakers Thursday, May 11 Guest Speaker: Deborah Koch from America Red Cross

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