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  • Wednesday, July 17, 2019 9:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Original Post on the floridarealtors.org site

    The U.S. economic expansion is longest on record, yet fewer middle-class Americans own homes or invest in the stock market. Financial disparities have widened.  

    WASHINGTON (AP) – As it enters its 11th year, America's economic expansion is now the longest on record – a streak that has shrunk unemployment, swelled household wealth, revived the housing market and helped fuel an explosive rise in the stock market.

    Yet even after a full decade of uninterrupted economic growth, the richest Americans now hold a greater share of the nation's wealth than they did before the Great Recession began in 2007. And income growth has been sluggish by historical standards, leaving many Americans feeling stuck in place.

    Those trends help explain something unique about this expansion: It's easily the least-celebrated economic recovery in decades.

    As public discontent has grown, the issue has become one for political candidates to harness – beginning with Donald Trump in 2016. Now, some of the Democrats running to challenge Trump for the presidency have built their campaigns around proposals to tax wealth, raise minimum wages or ease the financial strain of medical care and higher education.

    America's financial disparities have widened in large part because the means by which people build wealth have become more exclusive since the Great Recession.

    Fewer middle-class Americans own homes. Fewer are invested in the stock market. And home prices have risen far more in wealthier metro areas on the coasts than in more modestly priced cities and rural areas. The result is that affluent homeowners now sit on vast sums of home equity and capital gains, while tens of millions of ordinary households have been left mainly on the sidelines.

    "The recovery has been very disappointing from the standpoint of inequality," said Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading expert on income and wealth distribution.

    Household wealth – the value of homes, stock portfolios and bank accounts, minus mortgage and credit card debt and other loans – jumped 80% in the past decade. More than one-third of that gain – $16.2 trillion in riches – went to the wealthiest 1%, figures from the Federal Reserve show. Just 25% of it went to middle-to-upper-middle class households. The bottom half of the population gained less than 2%.

    Nearly 8 million Americans lost homes in the recession and its aftermath, and the sharp price gains since then have put ownership out of reach for many would-be buyers. For America's middle class, the homeownership rate fell to about 60% in 2016 from roughly 70% in 2004, before the housing bubble, according to separate Fed data.

    The other major engine of household wealth – the stock market – hasn't much benefited most people, either. The longest bull market in U.S. history, which surpassed its own 10-year mark in March, has shot equity prices up more than four-fold. Yet the proportion of middle-income households that own shares has actually declined.

    The Fed calculates that about half of middle-income Americans owned shares in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, down from 56% in 2007. That includes people who hold stocks in retirement accounts.

    The decline in stock market participation occurred mainly because more middle-income workers took contract work or other jobs that offered no retirement savings plans, the Fed concluded.

    Hannah Moore, now 37, has struggled to save since graduating from college in December 2007, the same month the Great Recession officially began. She has worked nearly continuously since then despite a couple of layoffs.

    "I had many jobs, all at the same time," she said. "It's just not been the easiest of decades if you're trying to jump-start a career."

    She works for a design firm in Los Angeles that contracts with luxury apartment developers that build rental housing marketed to high-tech employees. She loves the work. But she struggles with Los Angeles' high costs.

    Moore says she could afford a monthly mortgage payment. But she lacks the savings for a down payment. About half her income, she calculates, is eaten up by rent, health insurance and student loan payments of $850 a month.

    As financial inequalities have widened over the past decade, racial disparities in wealth have worsened, too. The typical wealth for a white household is $171,000 — nearly 10 times that for African-Americans. That's up from seven times before the housing bubble, and it primarily reflects sharp losses in housing wealth for blacks. The African-American homeownership rate fell to a record low in the first three months of this year.

    Most economists argue that higher income growth is needed to make it easier for more Americans to save and build wealth.

    Zucman favors a higher minimum wage, cheaper access to college education and more family-friendly policies to enable more parents to work. He and his colleague Emmanuel Saez, also an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, helped formulate Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million to help pay for those proposals.

    Income growth has lagged partly because for most of the expansion, employers have had a surfeit of workers to choose among when filling jobs, leaving them little pressure to raise pay.

    Not until 2016 did the unemployment rate fall below 5%. Average hourly pay finally began to pick up, with the lowest-income workers receiving the fastest average gains.

    "Overall, there's growing inequality," Elise Gould, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute said, "with signs of hope at the bottom. It's just taken a very long time.

    Copyright © 2019 Associated Press, Christopher Rugaber, AP economics writer. All rights reserved.

  • Thursday, October 18, 2018 9:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Southwest Florida Community Foundation will host a Public Grand Opening and Party in the Park to celebrate their new Collaboratory on Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 1 to 4 p.m.


    Party in the Park to include food trucks, live entertainment, free ice cream, games, tours and more  

    Located on the corner of Jackson Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at 2031 Jackson Street in Fort Myers, the Collaboratory is a public-private partnership of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the City of Fort Myers. The transformation of the former Atlantic Coast Railway Depot and construction of a new addition creates a 24,000 square-foot campus that includes the Foundation’s regional headquarters and state-of-the-art shared space for the community and tenants.

    The celebration will include food trucks, live entertainment, free ice cream, games, tours, a blessing of the building and more. A brief program will begin at 2 p.m.  Valet parking will be available for handicap permits and guests with physical limitations. For more details and additional parking information, visit www.floridacommunity.com/Party.

    The Collaboratory features vibrant spaces for work, gatherings and special events. In addition, state-of-the-art technology encourages regional collaboration.

    The Community Foundation funded the project with a $10 million New Market Tax Credit deal, or NMTC, a program that encourages economic development in distressed neighborhoods. Florida Community Loan Fund provided the NMTC allocation and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation is an investor on the project. Whitney Hancock Bank provided additional financing.

    The Atlantic Coast Line railway depot was presented to the city on Feb. 4, 1924, the same year Fort Myers was poised to join the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s. In the face of shrinking revenues, the Seaboard Coast Line (which had merged with ACL) sold its track, discontinued all passenger service into Fort Myers and closed the station in 1971. After sitting empty for a decade, the Southwest Florida Museum of History opened on the site in 1982. In 2015, the museum merged with the Imaginarium Science Center to form Imag, a science and history museum, and in recent years moved physically to the Imaginarium’s site at Cranford Ave.

     About the Southwest Florida Community FoundationThe Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.3 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $79.9 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com

  • Thursday, October 11, 2018 12:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    https://ccgsd-ccdgs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/National-Coming-Out-Day-Queer-11x17.jpgNational Coming Out Day (NCOD) is an annual civil awareness day internationally observed on October 11 to recognize members of the LGBTQ+ community. As you know the process of coming out involves self-disclosure of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

    Celebrate National Coming Out Day with HRC




  • Monday, October 08, 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Original Post on the HRC.org site

    More than ever, consumers are sending a message to businesses that they are watching. They are watching to see if the businesses they patronize understand and honor issues important to them, giving buying power to issues ranging from LGBTQ inclusiveness to environmental protection. Corporate social HRC.org Buyers Guideresponsibility has become an imperative for a successful business. With Buying for Workplace Equality, we hope to harness that power by providing you with the most accurate review of a business's workplace policies toward LGBTQ employees. Whether you are buying a cup of coffee or renovating your home, by supporting businesses that support workplace equality you send a powerful message that LGBTQ inclusion is good for the bottom line. We hope that you will use this guide as one component when determining if a business's social practices make it worthy of your dollars.

    Check out the guide at: https://www.hrc.org/apps/buyersguide/

  • Wednesday, September 26, 2018 8:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It's been a tough summer, but we'll get through this together. Be part of #OneLee to help get our local businesses back on track. Eat. Shop. Play. Stay.

    For events, discounts, etc. check out Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau site.


  • Wednesday, June 27, 2018 12:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NGLCC: The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce | Breaking News Alert


    BREAKING NEWS

    US House of Representatives Recognizes NGLCC and the Contributions of LGBT Business Owners

    U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Mark Pocan (D-WI) have introduced a bipartisan resolution recognizing the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) entrepreneurs and small business owners to our nation’s economy. 

    Murphy, Ros-Lehtinen, and Pocan (the only LGBTBE serving in Congress) introduced the resolution as a final honor during LGBT Pride Month, which takes place each June and celebrates the LGBT community in the United States and around the world.





    "We are so pleased that this resolution affirms what we have observed at NGLCC since our founding nearly twenty years ago: that America’s LGBT business owners are driving our economy ever upward and deserve every opportunity to keep creating jobs and innovating our industries that benefit all Americans. The estimated 1.4 million LGBT business owners NGLCC advocates for and certifies as LGBT Business Enterprises have truly earned a place at the table of opportunity in both the public and private sectors. We thank Representatives Stephanie Murphy, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Mark Pocan for their leadership, and to all Members of Congress who believe in a fully inclusive economy that celebrates the diversity of America."

    -NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson

    and Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell

    We look forward to celebrating this milestone, and all of the accomplishments of the LGBT business community, at the 2018 NGLCC International Business & Leadership Conference, August 14-17 in Philadelphia.To learn more and register, visit www.nglcc.org/nglcc18
  • Monday, June 04, 2018 8:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    NGLCC Decries SCOTUS Masterpiece Cakeshop Ruling, Will Continue Asserting American Businesses Must Not Use Religion Against the LGBT Community

    June 4, 2018

    Washington, DC -- The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the LGBT community, is deeply disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to pave a path toward the stripping of rights of LGBT Americans in the wake of its decision on the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case. Despite the court’s narrow decision focused on the specifics of the Colorado law, NGLCC continues to assert that religious or personal convictions are not a valid reason to deny services or benefits to the LGBT community anywhere.  The Court’s decision did affirm the importance of nondiscrimination laws and the need to protect LGBT people from discrimination, but leave the ultimate questions about LGBT equal protection unanswered.

    The Masterpiece Cakeshop proceedings have always been about more than just cake. As the arguments were presented, the Supreme Court weighed the rights of LGBT people to freely access American businesses against the beliefs held by some store owners that their religious convictions preclude their businesses from serving LGBT people. Unfortunately, the Justices did not come down on the side of progress with a decision that could ultimately jeopardize the right of LGBT people and other diverse communities to freely patronize businesses and access public opportunities in their community.  

    “The success of America’s society and economy depend on us upholding the social contract of mutual accountability and respect, yet the Supreme Court has now given a path toward state-sanctioned license to discriminate in this country. The LGBT community is a vital part of the American economy and deserves equal treatment under the law, and NGLCC will continue to advocate for our community’s right to live their lives free from discrimination in their places of business and in their local communities,” said NGLCC co-founder & President, Justin Nelson

    While this decision is undeniably a potential step backward for LGBT rights in the United States, it also threatens a larger framework of protections for other minority groups, including people of color, the differently abled, and women. As a direct result of this decision, civil rights laws across the country may now be reconsidered or potentially nullified if found to be similarly applied against religious intolerance.

    “As NGLCC’s work has demonstrated, LGBT inclusion is associated with higher levels of entrepreneurship and is linked to GDP growth, whereas LGBT discrimination goes hand-in-hand with a decline in productivity and success. This decision by the Supreme Court to add additional potential barriers for LGBT Americans who only wish to contribute to the US economy as full and equal citizens will damage the American economy and the economies of the businesses who participate in this discrimination,” said NGLCC Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell.

  • Thursday, April 26, 2018 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Original Story  from The Washington Press

    There’s green in being gay: LGBT businesses contribute $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy

    By Gene Marks January 23, 2017 Email the author

    The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), a trade group that represents businesses owned by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgenders, reported this week that the typical LGBT business has been in business, on average, for more than 12 years and that LGBT businesses contribute more than $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy and have created more than 33,000 jobs.

    The report serves as a reminder of the enormous and growing role LGBT entrepreneurs and business owners have in the United States. But it also sends a message to the community: if you’re an LGBT business then get certified as one. Otherwise, you’re missing out on some money.

    More than 10 years ago the chamber created a certification program to recognize its best-in-class members. According to the chamber’s press release “over a third of the Fortune 500, many top federal agencies (including the Small Business Administration, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Agriculture), the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, major urban municipalities (including King County, WA; Essex County, NJ; and San Francisco, CA), and the Public Utilities Commission of California actively seek out certified LGBT businesses

    Is it wise for a gay business owner to shout out their sexual orientation to the world? After all, many in this country have objections to their lifestyle. The publicity could be harmful. Customers could be lost.

    Then again, there’s customers to be won.

    My takeaway?  If you’re an LGBT business owner, then get certified as one.  There’s green in being gay!

    Gene Marks owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. Marks is an author and a certified public accountant, and he writes regularly for The Post’s On Small Business blog. For more about Marks, visit genemarks.com.
    Follow @genemarks

  • Tuesday, January 09, 2018 5:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    https://www.visualityflorida.org/get_involved

  • Wednesday, November 01, 2017 6:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sign Up for Our Medical Marijuana Educational Session

    The event starts promptly at 6 pm at Advanced Advanced Individualized Medicine of Naples, 720 Goodlette Rd. N., Ste. 204, Naples, FL  34102.

    We will provide information about Medical Marijuana from 6 pm to 7 pm and from 7-9 pm will be individual consults for those interested.

    Register here as space is limited and RSVP is required

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PO Box 2094
Fort Myers, FL, 33902

800-967-7750

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