Gulfshore Business Daily: Feb. 12-16 Weekly Roundup

A featured speaker, higher education plans, business climate report, acquisitions, and new transportation service led this week's news.

Need to catch up on business news in Southwest Florida? No problem, here are the top stories of the week, pulled from our daily newsletter, Gulfshore Business Daily.

Friday, Feb. 16

Space Tourist Ansari to Address Speakers Assembly

Engineer, entrepreneur and space tourist Anousheh Ansari will share stories about her 2006 space journey at the Feb. 22 Speakers Assembly dinner at Bonita Bay Club. Tickets are available until Feb. 19 for $60. Ansari is a woman of many firsts, including first person of Iranian descent to travel to space and the first person to blog from space. Prior to her 2006 trip, Ansari’s interest in space was clear—she and her family made a multimillion-dollar gift to the X Prize Foundation, which used the gift in a contest, awarding a cash prize to the first private company to launch a reusable manned spacecraft twice within a two-week period. Registration is required for this event. Seats can be reserved at or (239) 948-7909.

Thursday, Feb. 15

FGCU Announces Student-Success Initiative

In an effort to increase four-year graduation rates and improve overall student outcomes, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) President Michael Martin, Ph.D., introduced a major initiative Wednesday, creating a new approach to student success and enrollment management. On March 1, Mitchell Cordova, Ph.D., will vacate the dean’s office in the Marieb College of Health & Human Services to become the new vice president for student success and enrollment management. Guided by FGCU’s strategic plan, the new approach brings together programs and services that impact the student experience. Three specific functional areas—academic engagement, student engagement and enrollment management—are being explored for enhanced synergies and integration. The Student Success–Enrollment Management Initiative is the result of a 15-month review conducted by more than 50 students and staff and faculty members.

 Wednesday, Feb. 14

Survey: Lee County Business Climate up in Q1

Lee County’s business climate is heating up, according to the Executive Business Climate Survey published by the Horizon Council and Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). The survey of Lee County business executives and owners computed a quarterly business climate index of 73 for the first quarter of 2018. That’s a five-point increase over the fourth quarter 2017 index, and it’s the second-highest measure ever recorded for the survey since its inception in 2012. The current index measure represents a break from several quarters of historically low measures in 2016 and a slight improvement in 2017. In 2016, an election year marked with uncertainty, the index averaged 63.8. In 2017, it rose to 67.5. The index results from calculations made to survey responses of Lee County business executives and is measured on a scale of 0 to 100. Business executives also were asked about the effects of housing attainability on their industry and 43 percent of the survey respondents agreed with the statement that housing attainability and cost have affected their firms’ ability to recruit and retain workers, while 41 percent neither agreed or disagreed and 16 percent disagreed. The full report is available here.

Tuesday, Feb. 13

Osprey Capital Acquires Naples Princess Cruises, Adelheidi’s

Naples Princess Cruises and Adelheidi’s Organic Sweets of Naples have been purchased by Osprey Capital LLC, the private office of the Hoffmann family. Established in 1991, the Naples Princess offers daily public sightseeing and entertainment cruises as well as weddings and corporate events. The Hoffmann family plans to continue the legacy of the Naples Princess as a centerpiece of Naples tourism. The acquisition is part of the family’s overall commitment to support and enhance the Naples community. Adelheidi’s manufactures and sells gluten-free and organic products, both through retail stores and commercial distribution. In adding Adelheidi’s to the portfolio of Osprey Capital, LLC, principal David H. Hoffmann intends to continue the brand’s commitment to the high standards of quality and nutrition while expanding its reach beyond the local Naples market. The Hoffmann family is deeply connected to the Naples business community. Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate, an Osprey Capital company, is the largest owner of commercial real estate in Naples with more than 20 properties valued in excess of $300 million.

Monday, Feb. 12

Fort Myers Beach Tram Launches

Lee County Transit, LeeTran, launched the Fort Myers Beach Tram Pilot Program Monday to provide additional public transportation options to the residents and visitors of Lee County. The tram, which replaces the trolley on the north end of the island, runs from Bowditch Point Park to Matanzas Pass Preserve. It will turn around near Matanzas Pass Preserve by looping around Bay Road, Oak Street and School Street to head back to the north end of Estero Island. The open-air, multi-car vehicle is free of charge and provides an easy way to travel along the beach, from hotels to restaurants, and shopping and other attractions in the area. It stops along Estero Boulevard and throughout the Times Square area, and connects to LeeTran’s Beach Park & Ride Trolley, which originates from the County’s new Beach Park & Ride facility located on the corner of Pine Ridge Road and Summerlin Square Drive. At its southernmost stop on Bay Road, it also connects with the Beach Trolley, which provides transportation on the southern end of the island to Lovers Key State Park. The tram is ADA accessible and offers securement for one mobility device. It runs from 6:20 a.m. to 10:12 p.m. and has a 20-minute frequency, depending on traffic. The Lee of County Commissioners approved the $268,400 purchase of two trams from Trams International, including automated vehicle locator systems, on Dec. 19. Lee County Transit, LeeTran, is the public transit provider for Lee County, providing more than 3 million rides per year.

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