- ST. AUGUSTINE – In partnership with the Florida Power and Light Company (FPL), the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce is working to bring back the holiday lights to several St. Augustine businesses in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, giving them the opportunity to fully participate in the city’s annual Nights of Lights celebration.
Nights of Lights is an award-winning holiday lights display that will run through Jan. 31, 2017 in historic St. Augustine. “Bringing visitors to the areas of St. Johns County that were the most impacted by the storm is key to bringing the local economy back to full strength,” said Chamber president & CEO Isabelle Rodriguez. “The significance to our community and the economic impact to downtown businesses are tremendous. We’re grateful to FPL for seeing a need in our community and stepping in to fill that gap.”
Along with the sponsorship from FPL, other partners including Haven Hospice have provided resources to the effort so businesses in St. Augustine who were affected by the storm are able to participate in the city’s number one tourist event.
“At FPL, we’re working together with the communities we serve to help make Florida an even better place to work and raise a family,” said Area Manager for FPL Jim Bush. “This sponsorship of the Nights of Lights celebration will help our local businesses keep this annual tradition thriving.”
“The Nights of Lights has always been a rallying point for our community and this year more than any other is when we need to show people that not only is historic downtown St. Augustine open for business, but our intention is to be better than we have ever been.” said the Chamber’s board chair Cathy Johnston of Haven Hospice. “When you have a storm like this that caused so much damage, those businesses that did not suffer any loss have a duty to help out those businesses that did.”
Indeed, local businesses are helping. To facilitate the help to businesses, the Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center (FLVBEOC) has activated its resource system for businesses to share resources in the aftermath of the storm. In fact, the primary purpose of the FLVBEOC is to enhance business to business resource sharing after a disaster. “The Florida Virtual EOC is one tool we are using to find out what businesses need holiday lights to participate in Nights of Lights,” said Isabelle Rodriguez, President/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.
Businesses can both request and offer assistance through the FLVBEOC. To utilize the resource management system, businesses need to register with the FLVBEOC at http://flvbeoc.org/. Once registered, select the “Resource System” tab under the “Resources” menu. Select the desired activation (Hurricane Matthew) and type “all” under the term you would like to search for to see all current listings.
Through these partnerships the Chamber is working not only to restore businesses that needed repairs to their lights, but also expand to businesses that may not have had lights previously, but are in areas hit hardest by the storm.
To find out more about this Chamber initiative or to become a member of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce call 904.829.5681 or visit www.sjcchamber.com.