Gulfshore Business Daily: April 21

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
William McDaniel
Lovers Key State Park announces new Welcome and Discovery Center opening day. Details below.

 

William McDaniel

COLLIER COUNTY COMMISSIONER’S BUSINESS DEALS SPARK QUESTIONS OF CONFLICT

When William McDaniel ran for Collier County Commission in 2016, he was overcoming hard times, including unpaid tax liens, property foreclosures, and personal liability for millions in business loans. After taking office, his fortunes changed. He helped set up the sale of his business property to a developer planning the Immokalee Road Rural Village in north-central Collier. The deal erased his obligation to pay $42.7 million owed on two defaulted loans and gave the development crucial access to Immokalee Road. Some Collier County residents have questioned McDaniel’s interests in the transaction. He had a business relationship with the developer, recommended the developer as a buyer for his land and insisted that his personal responsibility for the defaulted loans be erased as part of the deal. Critics of the plan argue McDaniel’s connection to the deal serves at best as an example of a commissioner who is too cozy with developers; at worst, it serves as an example of a commissioner benefiting from a development project. McDaniel said he has no conflict. “There are rules and there are laws. I haven’t broken any rules or any laws.” To read the full Gulfshore Business report, click here.

 

LEE COMMISSIONERS APPROVE AGREEMENT TO CREATE 6-MILE LINEAR PARK ALONG CANAL IN LEHIGH

Lee County commissioners on Tuesday voted to accept an interlocal agreement with the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District authorizing the county to develop, operate and maintain a 6-mile linear park along the northern side of Able Canal in Lehigh Acres. The linear park will include a shared-use pathway with connections to Harns Marsh, Lehigh Acres Park/Barbara Farrell Park, Lehigh Elementary School and Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park. The improvement district will be closely involved in the design, permitting, construction and subsequent operation and maintenance of the park. The pathway could reduce motor vehicle traffic in Lehigh because it will provide convenient and safe non-motorized access between numerous residential, commercial, recreational and civic destinations. Lee County is contributing $2 million to the project and Florida Department of Transportation is contributing $4.9 million.

 

LEE COMMISSIONERS OK CONTRACT TO IMPROVE LEHIGH ACRES NEIGHBORHOOD STREETS

Lee County commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve a $1,374,000 contract to resurface selected Lehigh Acres roads as part of a $5 million commitment for this budget year. The contract with Community Asphalt Corp. is for resurfacing 59 neighborhood streets and includes resurfacing, excavation, installing 42 drainage culvert pipes, sodding and striping. Lee County Department of Transportation maintains about 1,500 miles of paved roads in Lehigh. Each year, neighborhood roads are ranked and selected for paving based on resident requests, road conditions and the number of residences on the road. 

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

SWFL EXPERIENCING EXTENDED BUSY SEASON AS BUSINESSES GET BOOST

An extended getaway for seasonal visitors in Southwest Florida means local businesses could continue to get a boost. Tourism experts say people aren’t packing up to return north just yet, using Southwest Florida as their escape from pandemic shutdowns. For many, Easter is the end of season, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case this year. Easter came early, so many people say they’re staying longer. Collier County Conventions & Visitors Bureau notices businesses are staying busier with hotel occupancy at 85%, WINK News reports.

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

SOME NEIGHBORS AGAINST PROPOSED CHURCH NEAR HOMES IN GOLDEN GATE ESTATES

A proposal to build a church in a Golden Gate Estates neighborhood is finding opposition among some local residents. If approved, the church would be located at the corner of Eighth Street NE and 22nd Avenue NE. Some are concerned about more traffic and don’t think a church should locate in a residential neighborhood. RDA Consulting Engineers is hosting a neighborhood information meeting next week about the church proposal. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 29 at Iglesia Pentecostes Peniel Church, 13260 Immokalee Road, WINK News reports.

 

VINEYARDS COUNTRY CLUB COMPLETES MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR RENOVATIONS

Vineyards Country Club’s multimillion-dollar, multi-phase renovations of the club and its surrounding areas are now complete. The project’s most recent phase consisted of extensive structural and aesthetic transformations and improvements, with all areas redesigned to offer a transitional and timeless aesthetic. Contractors will begin improvements to the clubhouse’s main kitchen next month. The project is scheduled for completion in August. Completed renovations include a newly redesigned entry lobby and terraces overlooking the golf course; enhanced clubhouse exterior and porte cochère; significant expansion of Mr. P’s Pub; expansion of the bocce courts; and a newly redesigned golf pro shop, locker rooms and card rooms.

 

BIG HEAD TAVERN CLOSES, O’MEI REOPENS IN NORTH NAPLES

Big Head Tavern permanently closed Saturday night in North Naples. “Unfortunately, this pandemic has financially caught up to us and we have been forced to permanently close Big Head Tavern. Our transition from Sam-Bucco Bistro to Big Head Tavern has been a fun one and was a valiant effort,” reads a farewell note posted Tuesday morning by co-owner Tom Rossetti on the venue’s Facebook page. Last summer, the upscale sports bar replaced Sam-Bucco Bistro Mediterranean restaurant, which operated for nearly 15 years at Tamiami Square. “I strongly urge you to do everything you can to support your favorite local establishments. We are not the first to suffer from this pandemic and certainly won’t be the last,” Rossetti notes. Adjacent to Big Head Tavern in that same U.S. 41 retail center near the Collier-Lee line, O’mei reopened this month where it originally launched in 2010. O’mei closed that original larger space in 2015 after opening a second location, which operated off Naples Boulevard from 2014 until 2020. 

 

MORRIS-DEPEW ASSOCIATES COMPLETES SERVICES FOR FLORIDA CANCER SPECIALISTS

Morris-Depew Associates (MDA) has completed services for Florida Cancer Specialists. Professionals at MDA worked with four Florida Cancer Specialists locations throughout Southwest Florida to provide a complete scope of development permitting services, including due diligence, engineering, landscape, planning and surveying. Offices included Fort Myers-Colonial, Estero, Global Parkway (an FCS & American Oncology Network office) and North Port. While each location provided its own set of parameters for size and scope, with varying challenges – from irregularities in shape, conservation land considerations to rigorous municipal architectural requirements – the end result at all locations was a harmonious site and building design. Celebrating more than 30 years of serving Southwest Florida, Morris-Depew Associates is a multiservice consulting firm with specialties in civil engineering, land planning, expert witness, landscape architecture and surveying and mapping services. 

 

LOVERS KEY STATE PARK WELCOME CENTER TO OPEN MAY 15

The new Lovers Key Welcome and Discovery Center building is complete and the phase one exhibits have been installed. The center will open to the public on May 15. The facility will serve to educate and inform visitors to Lovers Key State Park. The 2,100-square-foot exhibit hall features many different habitats in the park with interpretive and interactive displays. A community room complements the exhibits and gives the park its first indoor space to conduct classes, programs and hold events. Projection and audio equipment have been installed to enhance the experience. The Welcome & Discovery Center also will be home to The Nature Nook, a small gift shop celebrating local artists. Though the center is opening with the phase one exhibits, there are still more fundraising needs to complete the next phase of exhibits and to fund the ongoing operating expenses. For more information, click here.

 

CHAMBER LUNCHEON FEATURES EDUCATION LEADERS ON PANDEMIC RECOVERY

The Chamber of Southwest Florida will host a luncheon on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and its implications for students in the future. The event will be held on April 29 at the Crowne Plaza at Bell Tower Shops. Virtual and socially distanced in-person seating available by clicking here. Lee County Schools Superintendent Greg Adkins, Florida SouthWestern State College President Jeffrey Allbritten, Florida Gulf Coast University President Michael Martin and Hodges University President John Meyer will discuss their institutions’ plans for students and education moving beyond the pandemic. Advance registration is required.

 

GUADALUPE CENTER EARNS FOUR-STAR RATING FROM CHARITY NAVIGATOR

Guadalupe Center has earned its fourth consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator evaluates nonprofit organizations on their financial strength, accountability and transparency. Guadalupe Center’s four-star rating means it adheres to strict accounting procedures while disclosing pertinent financial and operational information to the federal government. Charity Navigator aims to guide intelligent giving by evaluating the financial health, accountability and transparency of thousands of nonprofits each year. Guadalupe Center, which received a perfect evaluation score of 100 for accountability and transparency, is one of 11 education-focused nonprofits in Florida to earn four-star ratings in four consecutive years. Guadalupe Center’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee.

 

Susan Bennett

BENNETT EARNS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Susan Bennett received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA), Southwest Florida Chapter, during the chapter’s annual Image Awards ceremony on April 15. Bennett was selected by the chapter’s leadership based on her accomplishments within the public relations industry, dedication to helping area nonprofits and longevity in journalism and public relations. The award is given when the chapter leadership believes it has a recipient that meets the criteria. Bennett, an accredited and certified public relations professional with more than 50 years’ experience in media, founded the Fort Myers-based company that carries her name in 1991. Since that time, Susan Bennett Marketing & Media has received more than 200 awards from the FPRA, including the organization’s highest honor, the Dick Pope All-Florida Golden Image Award, for the best public relations campaign in the state. Susan Bennett Marketing & Media L.C. has donated $2.5 million in in-kind professional services and cash contributions to area not-for-profit organizations and helped raise more than $70 million for fundraising and capital campaigns during her career.

 

Lee Holland

GATES CONSTRUCTION HIRES ASSISTANT PROJECT MANAGER

Gates Construction has hired Lee Holland as assistant project manager. Holland will assist in overall project coordination from the preconstruction stage and permitting through to owner occupancy. He holds a master’s degree in construction management from Florida International University and has more than 18 years of construction experience. His career focus has been in hospitality, retail, office and clubhouse. Based out of Gates Construction’s Palm Beach Gardens office, Holland is currently working on Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton. Gates serves its clients from offices in Bonita Springs, Sarasota and Palm Beach Gardens.

 

CHARITABLE NOTES

Kentucky Derby event to benefit SWFL Children’s Charities

The Bonita Beach Sunset Rotary viewing party of the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby will commence at 4 p.m. on May 1 at SWFL Inc. Open to the public, the celebration fundraiser will support SWFL Children’s Charities. The Kentucky Derby Fundraiser will feature raffles, live auction, fancy hat and crazy pants contest, pick-a-pony games and a broadcast of the 147th Kentucky Derby live from Churchill Downs on the big screen. Tickets, which include food and beverages, are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. Attendees donating a bottle of booze to fill a barrel of bottles will receive a raffle ticket chance to take home the whole barrel of booze. Guest are encouraged to dress in their derby best fashion. To purchase tickets, or for more information click here

 

Alondra M. virtually tutors Ericka J.

Hertz supports The Immokalee Foundation with student laptops

Students from The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program are receiving an essential tool for educational success with the donation of 70 laptops from The Hertz Corp. The Immokalee Foundation’s need for student laptops is ongoing and urgency has increased during the pandemic. While some foundation programming has transitioned back to in-person, others are still being administered in a virtual format. Laptop donations help The Immokalee Foundation meet the need for laptop access for all students, especially those who have to share with several siblings. Laptops also help The Immokalee Foundation’s middle and high school students who might otherwise not be able to participate in the foundation’s upcoming summer programs: the middle school STEM summer camp in partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University, and the high school Career Pathways summer camps held in partnership with FGCU and iTECH. Career Pathways is The Immokalee Foundation’s educational and professional development program that introduces students to well-paying career opportunities in high-demand employment sectors. 

 

United Way receives a $10,000 grant from Truist Foundation

United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee. has received a $10,000 grant from Truist Foundation to continue its work through the 2020-2021 Annual Campaign to better its communities. United Way will use the grant to improve the financial stability of working families and help them meet basic needs while establishing long-term financial goals. The nonprofit will also provide more support to families by maximizing their income and reducing their food insecurity. United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee will also collaborate with local health care professionals, increasing access to health care and promoting the safety of children and older adults. All money raised in the United Way Campaign stays in the community to support the local human service network. 

 

Don’t be the last to know what’s happening in Southwest Florida. Sign up for our free daily newsletter, Gulfshore Business Daily, to stay connected.

GET SOUTHWEST FLORIDA'S BEST VIEW OF BUSINESS STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX.

You May Also Like

Post-high school education on the rise

Little by little, Southwest Florida’s workforce is getting more skilled. The FutureMakers Coalition is an initiative by local leaders to raise the overall education level...

The Economy, the Pandemic and FGCU

The last 18 months have been an economic roller coaster for Southwest Florida. One would be hard-pressed to find any economist or soothsayer who predicted...