Gulfshore Business Daily: April 16

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Inn on Fifth


With millions of Americans eagerly awaiting federal stimulus checks to help them weather the coronavirus recession, people will soon be able to find out when they can expect to get their money after the government on Wednesday launched a tracking tool called “Get My Payment” at It lets consumers check their payment status, confirm whether they prefer direct deposit or a paper check and enter their bank account information for direct deposit if the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t have it yet. Although the first batch of economic impact payments started hitting consumers’ bank accounts on Saturday, millions of people remain unsure of when the payments will arrive. Story from

Video courtesy of WINK News


There is no answer yet to the question of when Florida will reopen, but Gov. Ron DeSantis said this week they’ll look at what reopening means. On Tuesday, DeSantis announced a task force to look at how to reopen the state. Part of the task force’s job will be to define what fall semester will look like for schools, especially if there is a second wave of COVID-19. Story reported by WINK News.

Video courtesy of WINK News


The City of Sanibel has already furloughed more than 50 people, and the mayors of Cape Coral and Fort Myers said this week they might have to consider cuts. With many businesses across Southwest Florida shuttered, economic worries continue to grow. Tax revenue is down because of the COVID-19 pandemic but Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello said the city has reserve funds that will keep all jobs in place and all services at full strength for the next three months. After that, the city might have to increase property taxes. Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson said the city’s reserve fund will allow Fort Myers to delay any significant changes to city services, including police and fire. Story reported by WINK News.


Estero-based rental car giant Hertz has laid-off employees and extended furloughs for others as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the travel industry. Hertz said this week that a portion of employees who had been furloughed have been laid off, while a smaller portion of employees have had their furloughs extended. “There is still no clear picture of when travel trends will begin to rebound and to what degree,” the company said in a statement. Furloughs were implemented in March across the company’s U.S. locations, including at their corporate office in Estero. The company employed about 38,000 worldwide. Story reported by WINK News.


The Lee County Tax Collector is reopening select service centers for driver license, vehicle title and registration renewals, but customers will need to make an appointment. The downtown Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Cape Coral and South Fort Myers service centers reopened on Wednesday by appointment only. To make an appointment, customers must contact the call center at (239) 533-6000. There will be limited capacity in the lobbies of the service centers and social distancing will be enforced. Call center representatives are also available to assist residents with information about driver licenses, vehicle registration renewals, vehicle titles, property taxes, tax certificates and other services provided by the tax collector. Many online services available at allow residents to complete needed tasks quickly and efficiently. An automated kiosk is also available at select Lee County Tax Collector locations.

Video courtesy of WINK News


Florida’s peak date of COVID-19 cases has been moved again, this time to early May. It was originally projected to be April 21. Why is pushing back the date a good thing? Won’t it take longer to get back to normal? “We don’t want, all of the sudden, an influx of cases that’s going to give us a dramatic peak all at once because that’s going to overwhelm our infrastructure – that’s exactly what happened in New York City. So what we have to do, I feel, is learn from that and try to spread out who’s getting infected so our health infrastructure can accommodate these individuals,” said Dr. Bindu Mayi, professor of microbiology at Nova Southeastern University. Story reported by WINK News.


The Naples Players announces the formation of a new advisory council comprised of healthcare professionals, industry professionals, and community leaders to help the organization make informed decisions about the safest and most responsible way to move forward. The advisory council will also guide the organization in the best ways to serve the community during the current and upcoming conditions. The Naples Players COVID-19 Advisory Council is comprised of seven individuals: Florida Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (District 28); Charles Chapman – City Manager, City of Naples; Chief Stephanie Spell, Collier County Sheriff’s Office; Chief Tabatha Butcher, Collier County EMS; Patty Baker – Broadway producer, philanthropist; Peter Swinburn, chair of the Wales Millennium Centre; former President & CEO, Molson Coors Beverage Co.; and Rich Jaffe, co-CEO, Broadway Across America. With meetings beginning next week, the theatre intends to use this committee’s guidance to finalize decisions about its upcoming summer shows, summer education programs, and beyond. 



Frontline Foods launches in Southwest Florida

Frontline Foods, a national grassroots organization working with restaurants, hospitals and other medical facilities to feed those working on the frontline COVID-19 crisis, on Tuesday announced its launch in Southwest Florida. Frontline Foods donates healthy meals to hospital clinicians who are working in unprecedented times by partnering with local restaurants that have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Frontline Foods program started organically in multiple cities across the country; there are now 34 chapters powered by over 400 volunteers. Thanks to the support communities, Frontline Foods has raised over $1.6 million, provided more than 50,000 meals to frontline workers and supported over 135 restaurants. Diana Willis, owner of Jason’s Deli locations in Southwest Florida, brought the idea to Lee Health after participating in the program with other Jason’s Deli locations across the country. With the support of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Frontline Foods is now available in Southwest Florida, enabling local restaurants to provide daily meals to Lee Health’s 10 different frontline medical locations treating COVID-19 patients. For more details, visit

The League Club makes unrestricted grant distributions totaling $425,387

Grants awarded this month to 44 area nonprofits by The League Club of Naples total $415,387 to provide basic humanitarian needs. The board voted to release restrictions usually applied that grant distributions be spent on specific projects. These grants are separate from The League Club’s decision last month to disburse a $10,000 emergency fund to Meals of Hope. These two distributions total $425,387 in 2020. Since 1987, The League Club has committed over $5 million in philanthropic giving.

Inn on Fifth assists employees.

The Inn on Fifth delivers food, supplies to employees

Phil McCabe, owner of The Inn on Fifth in downtown, Naples, on Tuesday arranged a special delivery of food and supplies for employees who have been out of work since the luxury hotel temporarily closed its doors last month. Some hotel staff helped package and distribute meat, pasta, eggs, milk, produce and other items to housekeepers who are currently laid off. McCabe hopes to make this a weekly service and expand it to assist all employees. “I want to do everything I can to help support our valued team members, who are a critical part of the guest experience and will play an important role in welcoming our guests back soon.” 

Chef Asif Syed at last year’s dinner at the James Beard House. Photo: Elliot Taylor – B3 Marketing

21 Spices by chef Asif donating 300 meals weekly to the community

21 Spices by chef Asif, a modern Indian restaurant on East Tamiami Trail in Naples, is donating 100 meals three days a week to the community! This donation is for people that have been affected directly by the COVID-19 crisis. Starting on April 20, chef Asif Syed and his team will be preparing Indian food on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 2-5 p.m. ready for pick up. The restaurant will be providing one meal per person on a first-come first-serve basis until 100 meals are provided. People need to be present at the take-out location in order to receive a meal.

J.Lee Salon Suites waives rent to over 60 small-business owners

Jacey and Justin Lee, owners of J. Lee Salon Suites in Bonita Springs, announced on April 1 that rent will be waived for its 60-plus small-business owners for five weeks during the mandated shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Lees own two facilities in Bonita Springs and are currently under construction with their third facility in Naples with around 60 small business owners occupying their spaces. The gesture is to help the smaller businesses within J. Lee Salons persevere through the financial detriment of the coronavirus and use the funds recouped from rent to provide for their families while out of work. 

Video courtesy of WINK News

Hunger & Homeless donates computers to Youth Haven.

The Hunger & Homeless Coalition of Collier County donates 30 new computers to Youth Haven

The Hunger & Homeless Coalition of Collier County has purchased 30 new laptops for Youth Haven’s children and teens. The laptops will be used for both virtual learning and other academic reasons. With beds for up to 73 children and teens who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment or neglect, and 16 of those designated for homeless teenagers (Rob’s Group Home), this donation will allow each child to successfully meet their education requirements in a timely manner.   

Fort Myers strap company shifts gears, makes masks for healthcare workers

A Southwest Florida company that makes seat belts for grocery carts is switching gears to helping those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. Safe-Strap Co. owner Paul Giampavolo says employees would normally make things like grocery cart seat belts in their Lee County factory on Jetport Commerce Parkway, but the coronavirus caused sales to drop. So, instead of laying off employees, Giampavolo repurposed his workers and their sewing machines to help make masks for health care workers. He says they’ve made about 3,000 masks in just one week–all from home. Safe-Strap is donating the masks to healthcare workers in need, with the first batch going to Lee Health on Tuesday. They also plan to send masks to different hospitals across the country. Story reported by WINK News.

Fort Myers Brewing and Wicked Dolphin team up to create hand sanitizer.

Fort Myers Brewing Co., Wicked Dolphin partner to increase hand sanitizer production

Fort Myers Brewing Co. is converting a portion of its brewery operations to support the production of hand sanitizer. To help ensure health care workers, first responders and the community have access to hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic, Fort Myers Brewing Co. is partnering with Wicked Dolphin to increase the distillery’s production of hand sanitizer. Fort Myers Brewing is producing mass quantities of “wash,” which is a high-sugar solution that has been fermented for about two weeks. The batch of wash is then transported in bulk to Wicked Dolphin, where it will then be distilled into sanitizer and packaged for distribution. Fort Myers Brewing’s first 1,000 gallons of wash was transported to Wicked Dolphin on Tuesday. The brewery will brew its next batch of wash this week and continue this process weekly until there is no longer a need.  With each batch, Fort Myers Brewing’s contributions will allow for an additional 1,000 gallons of sanitizer to be distributed locally to support health care workers, first responders and others who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video courtesy of WINK News

Arthrex helping make protective supplies for first responders, healthcare workers

A major Southwest Florida employer is making supplies for first responders and healthcare workers to help protect them from COVID-19. The production line at Naples-based Arthrex looks a little different these days. Its bread and butter is orthopedic devices, but now it’s manufacturing face shields and protective hoods for healthcare professionals. So far, Arthrex has made 300 face shields and 25 protective hoods. It hopes to make up to 500 face shields a day. The company says it will continue to make them as long as there is a need. The local company also is loaning a special machine so first responders can sterilize their personal protective equipment. Story reported by WINK News.

Joanne Cumiskey


Cumiskey to discuss ATD Capability Model for business success

Joanne Cumiskey, founder and president of Vision Quest Leadership LLC, will be the featured speaker at the Association for Talent Development’s chapter meeting held from noon to 1 p.m. on Apr. 29. Cumiskey will discuss “BAM! The Power of Integrating ATD’s Capability Model into Models for Business Success.” Attendees will learn how the ATD Capability Model is a blueprint for organization impact. Register for the virtual program here. The event is $18 for members and $25 for non-members. The deadline to register is Apr. 28.

Angelina’s Ristorante hosts virtual wine tasting

Angelina’s Ristorante will host a virtual wine tasting at 5:30 p.m. on April 24. Participants can order their tasting package in advance, pick it up curbside and then enjoy it at home. The tasting will take place via Facebook Live on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Guests are also encouraged to invite friends and family to join virtually as well. Hosted by in-house wine director and sommelier Dinah Leach, the virtual wine tasting will feature three bottles of wine chosen from Angelina’s 30-foot wine tower. In addition to the bottles of wine, the tasting package will include Angelina’s signature antipasti platter for pairing and tasting with each vintage selection. The cost is $75 (plus tax and gratuity) per package. Orders can be placed and picked up starting on Sunday. Delivery is also available upon request. To reserve your order, call (239) 390-3187.

GH Builders home design

GH Builders offers first-time home buyer’s consultations

GH Builders, a Golden Gate Estates home builder, has begun offering first-time home buyer’s consultations to help aid families with the complexities of the home-buying process. Originally developed as a class setting, the idea quickly morphed into a one-on-one driven format. Covered answers to questions include those relating to HOA/CDD fees, lenders and realtors, as well as other common questions that first-time home buyers wish to know. The program is in place to help home buyers learn the basics of the home-buying process, so that they can make educated and confident decisions when it comes time to buy a home. To schedule a one-on-one first-time home buyer’s consultation, email, click here and submit a Virtual Floorplan Customization Tool or call (239) 260-1755.

Christopher Peterson

Peterson joins trust company advisory board

S. Albert D. Hanser, founder and chairman of The Sanibel Captiva Trust Co. has welcomed Sanibel resident, Christopher Peterson to the firm’s advisory board. Peterson joins six other members including Jim Doss, Ginny Fleming, Jim Pigott, Ginny Stringer, Hank Humphrey and Stephen Brown, who provide feedback and insight from the Sanibel-Captiva community to the trust company team. Peterson is a second-generation business owner, along with his brother who owned and operated Peterson Dental Supply of Somersworth, New Hampshire. They successfully grew the company and sold to the third largest supplier of dental products in the country, Benco Dental Inc. Peterson was recruited from Benco to serve as a field sales consultant at Henry Schein for several years, the largest supplier of dental products worldwide until he retired in 2017. 


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.


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