See if this matches your size-up.
Some 140 businesses responded to a Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce’s public poll in January, and one-third said they added staff in the past year.
One-fifth scaled back and 45 percent made no changes. The growth inustries are banking and financial services, construction — not a typo — and retail.
Forty-four percent of the respondents — mostly small, locally owned firms that have been here at least 10 years — said the economy is improving, with only 15 percent saying they felt things were still declining.
Of the upbeat, 90 percent see this in increased revenues and 64 percent plan to add staff in the coming year.
“Interestingly,’’ says a chamber preview of a full report coming in its Business Currents magazine, “only 25 percent of those who believe the economy is continuing to contract plan to reduce staff ... Larger businesses (those with over 50 employees) seem to be more bullish than the rest. Out of the 16 responses we received from employers of more than 100 staff, none felt the economy was continuing to retreat.’’
Meanwhile, nearly a third of those polled sought bank help during the past two years and two-thirds of them got it. “This is contrary to the perception that banks are not loaning money,’’ the chamber says. “However, for some, it is still very difficult; those describing themselves as either real estate/development or recreation/personal services were not able to obtain the financing they sought.’’
n n n
Florida A&M President James Ammons came to visit our editorial board the other day.
He stopped in Naples for the first time on his annual tour of the state to chat up going to college — anywhere.
He says some kids don’t realize they are college material and need encouragement — and then he hands out FAMU scholarships at high school assemblies to students who know he is coming and have their files in order.
From the NDN he was headed to Gulf Coast High School, where three students were given scholarships worth $2,000 to $12,000 per year.
He told us about the best scholarship FAMU has to offer, from the $6 million raised annually from alumni and corporate partners.
It covers all tuition, room and board, books, part-time jobs, internships and even walking-around money.
He enjoyed telling us the name of this fine scholarship: Life Gets Better.
It sure does.
But he also was clear that Life Gets Better — “the best scholarship in America” — comes with a promise.
Students sign a contract keep the grades up to a B average throughout their college careers.
n n n
I was all prepared a few weeks ago to write a little something about how nice those new signs are at Freedom Park at Golden Gate Parkway and Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples.
After all, we had jabbed the park a couple of times editorially about the lack of signs, like at other parks, telling visitors what they see — types of plants and birds, for example.
The signs are up now and they’re really, really nice.
But before writing, I asked the county how much these fine signs cost.
The answer was $54,000.
I asked the county if there had been bids and if officials thought they got good value for the money.
I was assured yes, there were bids, and the county has gotten many compliments for the signs that were required and funded by a state grant that helped pay for the park.
The county also points out the signs are designed to last against the harsh elements for at least 10 years.
“Definitely worth the cost.’’
n n n
The city of Naples’ dog park opened the other day.
It will be open to the public and its dogs — as long as they register in advance to show that dogs are licensed, which requires immunizations, and owners will hold the city harmless if something happens.
The city says it is recruiting volunteers to handle these check-in chores.
Collier County government, which has its own dog park in North Naples, calls all of that “interesting,’’ but adds it has no plans to follow suit.
No registration needed at Rover Run; just show up.
n n n
n A serious civic push is under way to change the way Collier County commissioners are elected. Now each of five big neighborhoods or districts elects its own member. A coalition of leaders of property owners associations wants to make all five elections open to voters countywide — just like the School Board.
n The headline story one day was “Push for better education,” about teachers hitting the streets to protect pay and pensions. The next day, the big story was “March for more,” about farmworkers pressuring Publix to pay more for tomatoes.
Irony is, the way for the farmworkers to make more money is to get an education.
n Great sign at Spanky’s restaurant on Airport-Pulling Road:
“Thanks to you, we have jobs.’’
Lytle is editorial page editor of the Daily News. His e-mail address is email@example.com. Call him at 263-4773. Check his blog at naplesnews.com/blogs/jefflytle.