Gulfshore Business Daily: April 13

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Connie Ritchhart

CARES ACT RESOURCES

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued the guide here to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan. More details here.
 

LEE COUNTY PROVIDES BUSINESS ASSISTANCE PORTAL, HOTLINE IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Lee County businesses seeking information about recovery assistance can access a newly launched Business Assistance Portal at leegov.com/covid-19/business or by calling the Business Assistance Hotline at (239) 533-2273 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The Business Assistance Portal is an online tool meant to provide information to businesses and not-for-profit organizations. The portal and hotline are designed to help people understand how the different programs align to help various aspects of a business’ situation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to address specific business-related questions, such as how to apply for a Florida Small Business Bridge Loan or a Small Business Administration loan. The portal has help on obtaining information on the federal stimulus package, which is commonly called the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. Help also is available on how to direct employees to unemployment benefits. 
 

LEE COUNTY EXTENDS SHORT-TERM VACATION RENTALS PROHIBITION

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais on April 10 signed an order extending the prohibition on short-term vacation rental properties that was part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ March 27 executive order. The statewide order was set to expire and has not been extended by a subsequent order. The order, which Desjarlais signed under his authority within the Board of County Commissioners’ State of Local Emergency, means the prohibition within Lee County will remain in effect until April 30 and may be extended. Under the order, vacation rentals are prohibited from making new reservations or bookings. “Lee County has not yet peaked in the number of anticipated COVID-19 cases,” Desjarlais said. “This county order is consistent with the Board’s policies and steps taken to limit the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.”The order will be posted at leegov.com/covid-19 under the “documents and resolutions” section. For more details, click here.
 
 

Video courtesy of WINK News

FGCU HOSTING VIRTUAL GRADUATION FOR SPRING COMMENCEMENT

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) seniors will experience the university’s first virtual graduation for 2020 spring commencement. Although FGCU’s spring semester ceremony won’t be held in traditional form, the university is working to make sure students are still honored with a sendoff. “We’ve had each graduate received from us a mortarboard tassel in the mail, and they’ve been invited to participate by either sending in their pictures or sending us a short video,” FGCU president Mike Martin told WINK News
 
 

 Video courtesy of WINK News

EQUIPMENT ARRIVES FOR 250-BED LEE COUNTY FIELD HOSPITAL

Equipment for an emergency field hospital arrived Friday at the small airfield where the Lee County Mosquito Control District is based in Buckingham. The Florida Division of Emergency Management says supplies for that potential 250-bed field hospital are just the beginning stage as they move trucks and supplies to the new makeshift facility. The spokesperson for mosquito control says they are allowing emergency disaster services to store the equipment there, but if this field hospital is needed, officials will likely look to the state for guidance on where to set it up. Story reported by WINK News.
 
 

Video courtesy of WINK News

SWFL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES PROTECT OFFICERS DURING PANDEMIC

Changes are being made by law enforcement agencies in Southwest Florida to protect officers during the response to the coronavirus. All local sheriff’s offices have stopped visits and tours of facilities, and non-essential programs such as citizen’s academies have been suspended. If you go to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office website, the first thing you see is information about COVID-19. In Charlotte County, they are no longer providing fingerprinting services and have closed all but one district office to limit face-to-face interaction. In Hendry County, there have been changes to protocols inside the building and out, from carrying personal protective equipment to having people who call police meet officers outside. In DeSoto County, the sheriff wants all meetings with victim advocates to be over the phone to lessen exposure. In Glades, like many other counties, the sheriff’s office stopped conducting most misdemeanor arrests and are instead issuing notices to appear at a later date. Story reported by WINK News.
 

FORT MYERS CRA COMPILES LIST OF OPEN BUSINESSES

The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) staff has compiled a list of companies within its CRA redevelopment areas that are open for business. See the list of open businesses hereStaff will be frequently updating its promotional efforts with information received from restaurants, bars, and breweries related to hours of operation, menus, and any changes to their usual schedules. Email any updated information to cra@cityftmyers.com or call (239) 321-7099.

 

Connie Ritchhart

RITCHHART CELEBRATES 25 YEARS AT BANK

Connie Ritchhart, senior vice president of residential lending at Charlotte State Bank & Trust, is celebrating her 25th anniversary with the hometown bank. Ritchhart has been involved in residential lending in Charlotte County since 1977 and has helped thousands of people obtain mortgage financing over the years. Ritchhart and her team recently earned the Top Mortgage Broker in Florida Award from Quicken Loans Mortgage Services. Ritchhart is a three-time winner of the Port Charlotte Sun newspaper’s Readers’ Choice Award as Best Mortgage Officer, an honor also earned by Louke and Selders. A native Floridian, Ritchhart was raised in Punta Gorda and graduated from Charlotte High School. She is a member of the Realtors of Punta Gorda Port Charlotte North Port DeSoto Inc., Women’s Council of Realtors and the Executive Network of Charlotte County. She is also a graduate of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Charlotte program, Class of 2001.
 

Bob O’Connor

O’CONNOR REJOINS LANDQWEST

LandQwest has welcomed longstanding Cape Coral commercial real estate expert, Bob O’Connor, back to the Fort Myers Team. O’Connor is recognized for his Cape Coral roots, where he dually serves as a planning and zoning commissioner. His industry experience includes the sale and leasing of land, multi-family, retail, industrial and office assets. O’Connor worked at LandQwest in 2008, acquired his appraiser license in 2009 and was most recently an advisor for SVN|Kova in Fort Myers. His closed portfolio consists of industrial buildings from $2.25 million to $4.1 million, a 4.5-acre site for $1.1 million and a $359,000 office building. For more details, click here.
 

Charitable Notes

DeRomo’s Gourmet Market & Restaurant providing free dinners to its laid-off workers

DeRomo’s Gourmet Market & Restaurant is providing free dinners for four every Sunday to its workers who were laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the week of March 30, 66 former employees took advantage of the service. DeRomo’s prepared its Easter menu of bread and butter, family-size salad, ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans and dessert. The restaurant distributed the meals-to-go to former employees on April 11.  All former employees of DeRomo’s were notified of this dinner-for-four service via email.
 

 Video courtesy of WINK News

Fort Myers Mighty Mussels give back despite no opening day

Although Thursday’s opening day for the Mighty Mussels didn’t occur as planned because of the coronavirus pandemic, Fort Myers’ minor league baseball team made its community mark in another way. The Mussels donated more than 500 pounds of food to the Harry Chapin Food Bank. Story reported by WINK News.  
 

Family Relief Fund to give financial help to Fun Time Early Childhood Academy students

Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, via their newly established Family Relief Fund, will be handing out Visa gift cards to each of their students’ low-income families at the school from 9:15 a.m. to noon today. Fun Time Academy will be using proper social distancing measures via a drive-through setup. They are asking the public to please consider donating toward this cause. To donate, click here
 

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