FGCU Creates an Agribusiness Center

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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, August 24


Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Lutgert College of Business has created a Center for Agribusiness and a proposed agribusiness minor. The Center for Agribusiness will serve as a resource for the agriculture industry in Southwest Florida. It will track and distribute information regarding the economic impact and sustainability of agriculture. The center will also offer educational programs focusing on supply chain management, finance, management and marketing within the industry. The proposed agribusiness minor is intended to provide students with the knowledge needed to support all the business functions across the agriculture industry. The minor could be offered as early as spring 2019. Fritz Roka will serve as director of the center, effective Aug. 27. Roka joins FGCU after spending the last 23 years at the University of Florida. Since 2002, Roka has been an associate professor of agricultural economics. His new role will keep him in constant contact with the agribusiness and agriculture communities. For more information about the Center for Agribusiness or the proposed agribusiness minor, contact Vivek Bhargava at

Thursday, August 23


 The Leadership Collier Foundation, in coordination with The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, is now accepting applications for the Class of 2019 Growing Associates in Naples (GAIN) program. GAIN is a program specifically designed for emerging leaders and professionals in Collier County of ages 21-40. Participants will learn about local government, charitable organizations, arts, commerce, law enforcement, tourism, education and other local resources. The two-part application process is due by Oct. 26. The program, focused on community education and peer networking, runs from Feb. 19 – April 16, 2019, and includes nine, two-and-a-half-hour sessions, typically from 3-5:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons. Visit to learn more about the program and to access the two-part application. For more information, contact Amanda Beights at (239) 403-2903 or

Wednesday, August 22


Hertz Chief Financial Officer Thomas C. Kennedy has resigned after more than four years with the company. Jamere Jackson will assume the role of CFO on Sept. 10. Jackson will oversee all financial aspects of the company, including financial planning and analysis, accounting and financial reporting, and managing tax, internal audit, treasury and risk management. Jackson served as CFO of Nielsen Holdings plc from March 2014 to August 2018. Prior to joining Nielsen Holdings, Jackson was the vice president and chief financial officer of GE Oil & Gas – Drilling & Surface. Jackson has also held several roles in finance, mergers and acquisitions and strategic planning at The Procter & Gamble Co., Yum! Brands Inc., First Data Corp. and Total System Services. Jackson received his undergraduate degree in finance and business economics from the University of Notre Dame, and he is a certified public accountant who serves on the board of directors of Eli Lilly and Co., as a member of its audit and finance committees. Robin Kramer, Hertz's senior vice president and chief accounting officer, will assume the additional role of acting CFO during the interim period, effective immediately.

Tuesday, August 21


During July, 561,039 passengers traveled through Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers (RSW), an increase of 5.8 percent compared with July 2017. Year-to-date, passenger traffic is up 5.2 percent from the same period last year. The traffic leader in July was Delta Air Lines, with 137,944 passengers traveling to and from Fort Myers. Rounding out the top five airlines were Southwest (113,633), American (98,486), JetBlue (68,957) and United (46,648). Southwest Florida International Airport had 4,721 aircraft operations, a decrease of 2.2 percent compared with July 2017. Page Field saw 7,097 operations, a 6.2 percent increase from July 2017. In addition, slightly more than 2.3 million pounds of air freight moved through Southwest Florida International Airport in July 2018.

Monday, August 20


Guadalupe Center again has earned a five-star rating from the Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida. The coalition’s Southwest Florida Stars program is a voluntary rating system, much like an accreditation, that evaluates child care providers in Collier, Lee, Hendry and Glades counties through on-site visits and data collections. Guadalupe Center is the only preschool in Collier County to earn a five-star rating for four consecutive years, according to a press release.The Early Learning Coalition evaluates child care centers in six primary areas: health and safety; professional development and staff qualifications; learning environment and classroom interactions; screening, assessment and curriculum; family and community relationships; and professional responsibility. Rating teams visit each site and evaluate data to formulate results. The five-star rating enables Guadalupe Center faculty to take advantage of free specialized training, personalized support, access to educational scholarships, discounts on continuing education courses and memberships to professional organizations. 

In other news…

Congratulations to the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University’s 2018 Distinguished Entrepreneur award winners. Learn more about each leader’s entrepreneurial experiences here.

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