Observations on South Florida business
Everybody loves winners, especially when they’re entrepreneurs who’ve earned their wins through hard work and perseverance.
More than 650 people gathered at the Naples Grande Beach Resort on Oct. 26 to celebrate the induction of Kathy Bigham and Garrett Richter into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame. Junior Achievement teaches the values of free enterprise to school-age children, so it’s vitally important that it celebrate people such as Bigham and Richter to set an example for young people.
Bigham started selling jewelry out of a briefcase and worked as a truck dispatcher to pay for her college education. She founded Bigham Jewelers in Naples in 1995, building it into one of the most successful jewelers in the region.
Richter started his career as a janitor at Mellon Bank and served with the 75th Ranger Company in Vietnam before becoming one of the most successful bankers in Florida. Elected a state senator, Richter is currently president of First Florida Integrity Bank and holding company TGR Financial.
In receiving their awards, Bigham and Richter shared some of the wisdom they’ve gained from their experiences:
“Setback is an opportunity” — Kathy Bigham
“Anything is possible if you surround yourself with the right team and people” — Kathy Bigham
“Make it happen” — Kathy Bigham
“The reality of entrepreneurship is that it’s a struggle” — Kathy Bigham
“You don’t dress for the job you have. You dress for the job you want” — Garrett Richter
“You have to rank your priorities” — Garrett Richter
“Learn, earn and return,” — Garrett Richter
“The only way to get a good reputation is to earn it” — Garrett Richter
The national economy may be sluggish, but don’t count Southwest Florida in that camp.
In fact, the numbers tell a different story.
The number crunchers headed by Chris Westley at the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers regularly publish data on the economic health of the region from Sarasota to Collier counties. This is useful information if you’re considering hiring staff, budgeting for next year or contemplating a major capital expenditure, for example.
The latest report (find it by clicking here) shows positive trends in all areas of the Southwest Florida economy. In particular, the report points to jumps in taxable sales, tourist-tax revenues and single-family home sales.
There is more useful data in the report, too. Get a read on inflation and forecasts for population growth, for example.
The Regional Economic Research Institute offers more insights in the local economies with a quarterly business-climate survey of executives and a new report on economic diversification. You can find it by clicking here.
Blogging for entrepreneurs in Southwest Florida (SoWeFlo)