Gulfshore Business Daily: April 20

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Video courtesy of WINK News


With the hope their antibodies will help others survive, researchers need people who recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma for a research study that aims to treat those who have contracted the coronavirus. Lee Health and NCH Healthcare System have joined Mayo Clinic’s study that looks to confirm if plasma donation from those already recovered from the coronavirus can be used as a viable treatment for those still needing to recover. Doctors say this type of treatment has been done before and worked well on other viruses such as H1N1, the swine flu. Beginning today, patients who had COVID-19 may enroll to see if they are eligible to donate plasma for the research study. Story reported by WINK News.

Video courtesy of WINK News


Now that funds from both the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program have reached their cap limits, many local small businesses that had been counting on those loans are in danger of closing without financial help. The $350 billion from the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program and another $50 million from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity have been doled out, but only scratched the surface to help the thousands of companies in need because of the coronavirus pandemic. Proposals to extend both federal and state programs are underway. Story reported by WINK News.

Video courtesy of WINK News


Hertz, one of Southwest Florida’s larger employers, saw its stock price fall nearly a dollar last week to finish at $4.93 a share. A year ago, Hertz shares sold for nearly $21. Because people have not been renting cars during travel restrictions from the coronavirus pandemic, most of Hertz’s fleet of 500,000 cars worldwide are parked in lots such as at Hertz Arena in Estero. Management has already asked the Trump administration to include the company in its plans to rescue the travel industry. Without assistance, the Estero-based rental car giant could be on the verge of bankruptcy reorganization, according to published reports. In March and April, Hertz furloughed or laid off some of its 38,000 employees worldwide. The company employs 1,100 people in Southwest Florida. Story reported by WINK News.


Bonita Springs Utilities Inc.’s 2019 annual report and drinking water quality report are available online here. “The 2019 annual report provides an overview of the utility’s operations and activities. Highlights include a $3.26 million capital credit payment to our members, upgrades to our water and wastewater facilities, conservation efforts and the utility’s financial report,” said John R. Jenkins, BSU executive director. “The drinking water quality report provides specific information on where our water comes, raw water constituents and our water treatment processes.” BSU members will receive a copy of the annual report by mail in April. Both the annual report and drinking water quality report are available online year-round. During 2019, BSU produced more than 3.64 billion gallons of potable water, treated 1.7 billion gallons of wastewater, and experienced peak day water production of more than 13.97 million gallons.

Video courtesy of WINK News


Thousands of families are experiencing food insecurity in Southwest Florida. As job losses mount, the need is growing. With many retailers short on supplies to donate, local farmers have been able to meet some of the needs during the coronavirus pandemic. With the lack of demand for fresh produce from retailers, more farmers are donating to agencies to distribute food. Car after car, volunteers packed trunks with fresh produce last week at The Heights Center in south Fort Myers. Farm Share is doing what it can to make sure no food goes to waste. All the food that doesn’t get handed out will go to the local Community Cooperative, so they can continue their mission of feeding families. Story reported by WINK News.


Two Southwest Florida country clubs have joined the Clubs HELP Foundation, which encourages golf clubs nationwide to participate its support network to help hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. Members of Stonebridge Country Club in North Naples and Six Lakes Country Club in North Fort Myers are teaming up to provide supplies for local hospitals. Clubs “adopt” a hospital, where members, companies and individual donors pitch in to gather, collect and deliver the most critical items and resources to fight the virus. Hospitals are in dire need of scarce supplies such as basic food items and bottled water, delivery services, personal protection equipment and other resources. To connect or donate to Clubs HELP, go to


Video courtesy of WINK News

St. Matthew’s House works to help hundreds put food on the table in SWFL

St. Matthew’s House, which distributed 60,000 pounds of food over the last two weeks, is one of many local charities helping “feed the need” in Southwest Florida. At the peak of Thursday’s drive, hundreds of cars wrapped around a building, each representing a family seeking food. Thanks to St. Matthew’s House, more than 600 drove away knowing they wouldn’t have to go without something to eat. The mission’s next food giveaway is Tuesday. Story reported by WINK News.

Swinging With Purpose conducts virtual fundraising efforts for 2020 beneficiaries

Swinging With Purpose is a nonprofit organization that provides support (financial and in-kind) to grassroots organizations serving women, girls and children in Southwest Florida.  As a result of COVID-19, Swinging With Purpose had to cancel its Liberty Mutual Invitational Golf Tournament scheduled for May 3 at Quail West Golf & Country Club. The annual golf tournament is the major fundraiser and its proceeds help fulfill annual grants to beneficiaries. Instead, Swinging With Purpose is hosting a virtual raffle of an i20 ICON golf cart that has been donated by Hole in One Golf Carts on May 3 by video. All 150 raffle tickets have been accounted for and the virtual fundraising effort generated proceeds in excess of $35,000 which will be used to fulfill 2020 grants. For more details, visit

John and Tina Ford, Jessica and Brian Tolin, Caitlin and Dustin Heath at the 2019 SWFL Heart Ball. Credit: Gulfshore Life.

American Heart Association hosts virtual silent auction for SWFL Heart Ball

American Heart Association’s virtual silent auction occurred Thursday through Saturday to support its mission “to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.” While the AHA Heart Ball is on pause in Southwest Florida because of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization continues to raise money to benefit others. Golf, vacation and dining packages were among auction items available to bid on at the virtual event, sponsored by Gulshore Life magazine. Story reported by WINK News.


Val Puccia serving a slice of Larry Puccia’s freshmade pizza.

Lani Kai managers deliver pizzas to frontline workers

Lani Kai bar manager Val Puccia has been hand-delivered large hand-tossed pizza made by her husband and Lani Kai general manager Larry Puccia to various hospital staff, medical workers and first responders around town, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The boxes are always topped with hand-written notes of encouragement and appreciation. So far, they have distributed pizzas to staff at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, HealthPark Medical Center’s emergency room, Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office sub-station on Fort Myers Beach. Larry and head chef Pedro Tejeda also recently hosted an Easter dinner feast for Lani Kai staff and their families at the Fort Myers Beach-based hotel, serving hundreds of meals in to-go containers.

Founder\’s Square


Babcock Ranch home sales up 40 percent in Q1

Kitson & Partners, developers of Babcock Ranch, reported 107 first-quarter new home sales, marking a 40 percent year-over-year increase for America’s first solar-powered town. Babcock Ranch home sales totaled 31 in March alone, propelling the town to surpass the 600-homes-sold milestone. The first quarter also marked the announcement that Publix will anchor Crescent B Commons, an 82,540-square-foot shopping center scheduled to open in 2021 at a new entrance to Babcock Ranch being constructed about one mile south of the existing town entrance on Babcock Ranch Road/State Road 31. For more details, visit

Dr. Bob Rahmanian

Cypress at Home names Rahmanian medical director

Bob Rahmanian, D.O., has been appointed as the medical director for Cypress at Home, the HealthPark Florida-based in-home care business that provides services and solutions that support aging in place for older adults. Rahmanian, who completed his pre-medical studies at Wayne State University and medical schooling at Des Moines University, brings to the organization 20 years of experience as an emergency department physician. He has been providing care in the skilled nursing community for the past five years at facilities in Lee and Collier Counties. A credentialed hospice physician, Rahmanian has also been active with use of telehealth since 2008. This week, Cypress at Home launched virtual care, which provides access to a trusted Cypress at Home physician or nurse practitioner from the comfort and safety of the client’s home.  

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