Collier County businesses have more local support available than they might realize. That’s the reason the county government teamed up with the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce to host an Economic Development Day event from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday at The Cove at the Paradise Coast Sports Complex, 3940 City Gate Blvd.
While celebrating economic development in Collier County, the event intends to highlight resources available to local businesses to help them launch and thrive here. It also brings awareness to the economic development partnership—the Collier Economic Development Office—between the county government and the Chamber.
This inaugural event was initially postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Melanie Schmees, the Chamber’s director of business and economic research. “We wanted to make that happen this year so there’s a way for our community to understand this partnership that the Chamber and county have, which is the Collier EDO partnership. So, we’re bringing awareness to this economic development organization serving the businesses in Collier County.”
The idea behind the event was to showcase these business resources and partnerships, including the Culinary Accelerator in Immokalee, which will provide food for the event. “That’s another great program that’s economic development related,” Schmees said. “We are growing businesses in our backyard so we wanted the community to know and have a chance to meet the facilitator of that program.”
Also invited are some specific nonprofit business support organizations, including the Small Business Development Center, the SCORE Naples chapter and CareerSource Southwest Florida, all organizations that help direct businesses to available assistance. “We wanted to showcase who these business support organizations are and have an event where businesses could come out and meet exactly who the players are who we work with and the resources that are available to them whether you’re trying to grow your business to the second stage or whether you just have a conceptual plan and are looking to get started,” Schmees said.
The free event’s target audiences are business owners and employers, those interested in starting a business and community members who want to learn more about the business services available in Collier County and other economic development efforts, she said. “And, it will give people a chance to come out and see the Paradise Coast Sports Complex, which is another big economic development project for the county. It was a big investment.”
On the drive east off Collier Boulevard to the sports complex, attendees will pass the construction sites of two major economic development projects. The tilt walls are up on the 937,000-square-foot distribution center for Uline, a Wisconsin-based distributor of shipping, packaging and industrial supplies. Construction began last summer and is expected to be completed by early 2023. Between Uline and the sports complex, Great Wolf Resorts recently started earthwork on its development site for a 530-room Great Wolf Lodge resort with an indoor waterpark and a convention center.