If you’re like me it seems every time you turn on the t.v. or pick up a newspaper there is nothing but negative news. If it isn’t the Coronavirus it is the political and racial divisiveness that is making front page news. The left is yelling at you “we want change,” the right is screaming “come to your senses.” Can’t I just be left alone? And let’s not forget about the stock market. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any Disney World roller coaster ride has anything over the highs and lows we are seeing in the stock market. One day it is up 800 points and the next day it is down 400. What is going on with this country we live in? Can’t we just go back to the way things used to be?Call me an eternal optimist, but for some time I decided to take a step back and take a look at things from a different perspective. Sure, I have my opinions, but what if I quieted down the entire minutia and got back to the basics of what were the most fond moments of my youth? What I found was without all the clamor the very things I held most dear I was having an opportunity to experience again. I, too, got caught up in the rat race of everyday life and the simple things I thought of most I was now being given another opportunity to enjoy.
I was forced to slow down and savor each day and the friends we have made along the way . It was the same feeling I had after working in the “concrete jungle” of New York City and coming to Florida 21 years ago. It was like a breath of fresh air that afforded us a quality of life we didn’t have in New York because of the fast paced lifestyle. Unfortunately like most, we got so caught up with work and projects around the home we didn’t take the time to savor the life we found those twenty one years ago. However, the Coronavirus changed all that and we’ve not only had an opportunity to reflect on what really matters in life, but how fortunate we really are.
Closer to home in the smaller cities like Venice and Punta Gorda you are seeing the embrace of a community and a quiet enthusiasm that is translating into new developments and business. Once seen only as places to escape the cold weather up north, we are now seeing somewhat of an exodus from those looking to escape the high taxes and congestion for a better way of life.
I sat down to interview Mark and Leigh McCann who are Captains with Allegiant Airlines . In fact, Leigh is the most tenured Captain in Punta Gorda that has 38 Captains based here and 36 First Officers. According to Mark and Leigh, air travel dropped in March, but came back in May and June very strong. Out of the 186 passengers the planes can hold, they were flying typically with 170 passengers and sometimes more!
Back in 2007 & 2008 when airlines were suffering from the downturn in the economy, Allegiant was the only profitable airline and up to this pandemic had 70 consecutive quarters of profitability. While the stimulus was supposed to keep the airline industry running through September, like many airlines, Allegiant had plans to furlough an estimated 30% of its pilots however, now there is not only no plans to furlough anyone, they are training new pilots.
Mark and Leigh continued by saying while other airlines are downsizing and pulling out of marginal routes, Allegiant will have an opportunity to pick up new routes and more equipment (planes). The attribute Allegiant’s success to tourist or pleasure travel, not business travel and said they have developed a loyal passenger base.
Turning our conversation to Sunseeker, Mark went on to say, we have a connection to this community, and for all the positives that Allegiant is doing for the community by bringing passengers from various points around the country to our area, the last thing they want is to be tied to a failed project. H e said while it was important to make sure the airline remained on solid ground during this time, which led them to delaying the development of Sunseeker , the 18 month delay was seen as a conservative estimate and that they hope to resume the project prior to then . He said as a company they are cautiously optimistic, but optimistic nevertheless!
Turning back to the real estate market and it’s upturn in activity, RE/MAX Harbor had 61 showings for the month of May, however that number dramatically increased in June to 458! Yes, people are still looking to move from the large cities where this pandemic has had them reconsider their routine of day to day activities. They are finding out what we’ve known all along…. “Quality of life.” And it comes from moving to those smaller, quaint towns with a feel of community.
In speaking with those in the RV and marine industries, sales have increased dramatically and as one representative from a local marine company said, “We just can’t find any new or used boats to meet the demand.”And most recently, Punta Gorda was named #2 in USA Today’s Readers Choice Awards for “Best Small Town Food Scene.”
All this and more is why we love living in Southwest Florida and why others are choosing to do so as well. As we soar through 2020, all the ups and downs, I think something we can all agree that truly matters is our faith, family, sense of community, and stopping to focus on all the good around us.