Gulfshore Business Daily: April 24

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Port Royal Association member Dick Del Bello (l) and  Luca DiFalco, managing partner BICE Restaurant #unitedonfiifth to donate 150 gift cards to Feeding the Frontline workers.


More than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as job cuts escalated, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. In the last five weeks, about 26 million people have filed for jobless aid, the highest level of the seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate in U.S. history. “Today’s unemployment report shows continued, elevated unemployment claims caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said Thursday in a released statement. “The Department of Labor is continuing to provide guidance and support to the states as they implement the enhanced unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, with 44 States now paying the $600 additional weekly benefit provided by the Act. The Department also continues to implement the paid leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and has now initiated hundreds of cases to ensure workers receive what they’re entitled to under the law.” 


In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, the Housing Division of the City of Fort Myers is offering financial assistance to microenterprise businesses and residential housing assistance. Applications for the Emergency COVID-19 Microenterprise Loan Program opened on Thursday. The city will offer limited Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to help microenterprise businesses stabilize and retain employees. A microenterprise business consists of 5 or fewer employees, with one of them being the owner. The owner must be low-income based on HUD income guidelines for Lee County. The business must be in the City of Fort Myers municipal boundaries. The business must also have been a viable business and in good standing before the governor’s “Stay at Home Order” on April 1. The help will be in the form of a forgivable loan up to $10,000. To apply, go here. For additional information, contact the City of Fort Myers, Housing Division, at (239) 321-7970. Click here for a COVID-19 Micro Enterprise Emergency Loan Program Fact Sheet. Additionally, applications for the Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance Program, a one time-limited housing assistance program designed to prevent homelessness and increase housing stability for city residents experiencing the impact of the COVID pandemic, will open on May 4.

Video courtesy of WINK News


The last beach in Southwest Florida to close will now be the first to reopen. Charlotte County announced this week it would reopen beaches starting Monday so that residents can get some exercise and sunshine. Restrooms will remain closed, and parking will be free. The decision is in coordination with Sarasota County, which also will reopen beaches Monday with restrictions and closed parking lots. Deputies will continue to enforce social distancing rules. Charlotte County also plans to reopen sports fields and dog parks today, but no organized games or activities will be allowed. Story reported by WINK News.

Video courtesy of WINK News


Although the Senate approved the second round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program after the original amount ran dry in less than two weeks, many small business owners remain frustrated by the loan plan. Even with more money, the program needs a standardized operating procedure because each bank handles the loan a little differently. CPA and Financial Planner Charles Massies, who estimates that only 10 percent of his clients who applied for the loan got it, has noticed that businesses that go through smaller banks are having more luck. Massie adds that those who already sent in an application shouldn’t need to submit another. For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program, click hereStory reported by WINK News.


Law enforcement agencies nationwide are seeing an increase in domestic violence calls during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Collier County Clerk’s office is open to assist victims of domestic violence to petition the court for an injunction for protection free of charge, said Clerk of Courts and Comptroller Crystal K. Kinzel. These and other essential and critical court services are processed at the Clerk of Courts office in the Courthouse Annex, 3315 Tamiami Trail E. in East Naples. During the COVID-19 economic crisis, Kinzel also reminds residents who are struggling to pay court-ordered fines and fees that reasonable payment plans are available. For more information, go to


The Immokalee Foundation receives grant funds from NCEF

The Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) recently awarded The Immokalee Foundation $558,000 in grant funding, which will be used to support the educational and career programming the foundation offers to elementary, middle school, and high school students. Foundation students earn a 100% high school graduation rate and continue on to post-secondary certification programs or college, where 91% complete their programs. The Naples Children & Education Foundation grant comes from donations made during the most recent Naples Winter Wine Festival event. For more details, visit

Lee Health auxiliaries contribute $150,000 to help frontline healthcare workers combat COVID-19

Lee Health and NCH Healthcare System (NCH) announced last month the “SWFL Stronger Together” campaign, a collaboration to raise funds and support for the regional effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, Lee Health and NCH are asking the Southwest Florida community to join them and show support for the healthcare professionals on the frontline of the crisis. Cape Coral Auxiliary, Gulf Coast Medical Center Auxiliary and Lee Memorial Auxiliary were the first to answer the call, giving $50,000 each for a combined $150,000 donation, all to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Gifts to the SWFL Stronger Together fund are providing critical resources, equipment and supplies needed to support doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers as they take on the challenges of COVID-19. Donations are also helping to increase resources and bridge the challenges of communication. For more information or to make an online donation, visit

Fifth Third commits $75,000 to address effects of COVID-19 in South Florida

The Fifth Third Foundation on Thursday announced a $75,000 philanthropic commitment to help address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Florida. The funds from the Fifth Third Foundation will be deployed to meet the immediate needs of individuals in the community that seek assistance from Community Foundation of Collier County  and Urban League of Broward County.  The donations to the two Naples and Fort Lauderdale nonprofit organizations are part of a larger pledge of funding across the state from the $8.75 million commitment funded by the Fifth Third Foundation and the Fifth Third Chicagoland Foundation. The commitment was announced March 20. Among the areas to be funded are $3.25 million for COVID-19 response needs in the regions served by Fifth Third Bank and $5.5 million in Strengthening our Communities Fund grants to support the long-term sustainability of our economy.
For information, visit

RCMA receives grant from United Way of Collier and the Keys

RCMA, Florida’s largest nonprofit provider of early childhood education, received a $50,000 grant from the United Way of Collier and the Keys from an application submitted earlier in the year. The funds will support RCMA’s Head Start match requirement for its Collier County-based family child care home partners as well as scholarships for children in its Immokalee Community School after-school program through March 31. RCMA is headquartered in Immokalee and celebrating its 55th anniversary this year. It serves 6,500 children and their families in 21 Florida counties. Learn more at

IBERIABANK pledges $500,000 to local food banks across company’s footprint

IBERIABANK is pledging $500,000 to local food banks across the company’s footprint. In Naples, the bank is pledging a collective total of $25,000 to support both St. Matthew’s House and the food pantry at Grace Place for Children and Families.

BGCCC Staff delivering Club on the Go kits to Club families in need.

Boys & Girls Club of Collier County COVID-19 Emergency Relief Efforts continue with matching gift 

Boys & Girls Club of Collier County has launched a relief fund aimed at supporting efforts in Collier County. Support from the COVID-19 Relief Fund will enable Boys & Girls Club of Collier County to continue providing food to kids and families in need and running virtual club programs to keep kids learning and engaged while they are at home. The Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County has agreed to match all donations, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000 from now until May 31. To make a gift to Boys & Girls Club of Collier County’s Relief Fund, visit

Quigley Eye specialists waiving fees for those impacted by COVID-19

Residents who need eye care and have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have no health insurance and are in financial hardship may now receive a virtual eye appointment from Quigley Eye Specialists at no charge. Upon completion of a financial affidavit, those in need may have fees that insurance would normally cover completely waived. Residents do not need to be a current patient of Quigley Eye Specialists to obtain virtual eye exams or have the fee waived. For those with current insurance coverage, Medicare has waived co-pays for patients who use telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency for common office visits, mental health counseling, and preventive health screenings, such as eye exams.  Some private insurers also are waiving co-pays. For more details, visit

St. Matthew’s House now distributing over 20 tons of food per week

St. Matthew’s House on Tuesday fed another 614 families and is now distributing more than 20 tons of food per week to the hungry community. That’s a more than 2,000% increase of the families the organization feeds during a normal week. Harry Chapin Food Bank is one participant that brings in over a dozen pallets of food for each of these events. Volunteers pack up that food and put it into each families’ vehicle. St. Matthew’s House hosted another food drive from 1-5 p.m. on Thursday.

Video courtesy of WINK News

Salvation Army steps up to help recovering COVID-19 patients get supplies

If COVID-19 patients recovering at home are unable to get the necessary supplies they need, the Salvation Army is jumping in to help. Any COVID-19 patient that steps out of a Southwest Florida hospital with no one to go home to will be contacted by the Salvation Army. Their plan is to deliver two hot meals a day to these patients for as long as they need it. Story reported by WINK News.

Youth Haven urges public to wear blue for Child Abuse Prevention Month

Youth Haven welcomes the public to join the organization on April 28 in wearing something blue in honor of April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month. All of the children and teens that come to Youth Haven have been abused, abandoned or neglected. Youth Haven asks the community to show it is united in preventing child abuse by wearing blue, taking a photo or selfie and either posting it on the organization’s social media pages or on their personal pages and tagging Youth Haven and #youthhavenswflgoesblue. For more information or to donate, visit

Port Royal Association member Dick Del Bello (l) and Luca DiFalco, managing partner BICE Restaurant #unitedonfiifth to donate 150 gift cards to Feeding the Frontline workers.

Fifth Avenue South BID announces #UnitedonFifth

The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District (BID) announced on Friday #UnitedonFifth, a campaign to acknowledge and reinforce the united front among the 220 businesses along Fifth Avenue South since COVID-19 restrictions first went into place in mid-March. One of the first #UnitedonFifth initiatives is Feeding the Frontline.  The initiative provides a way for local residents, who pay for the food, to honor COVID-19 frontline workers, while also supporting the local business community. To donate food, call one or more of the following restaurants participating in the effort: 5th Avenue Coffee Co., Bellini on FifthBICEBistro 821Gelato & Co., Molto TrattoriaOsteria Tulia, and Sails Restaurant. For more information, visit

Waterside Shops partners with California Pizza Kitchen to donate meals.

Waterside Shops feeds hundreds by donating nearly 1,000 meals

In partnership with California Pizza Kitchen, Waterside Shops donated hot pizzas, boxed lunches and Take & Bake pizzas to first responders throughout Southwest Florida and individuals in need. Over the course of three weeks, recipients included Collier County EMS, Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Physicians Regional Healthcare System, North Collier Fire Control & Rescue District, NCH Healthcare System, Naples Senior Center at JFCS, Lee Health, The Shelter for Abused Women & Children, and Youth Haven. 


Rib City now hiring

Rib City is seeking employee applicants for all of its Lee County locations. Rib City is looking to fill limited front of house positions. Applications are being accepted online at While Rib City’s takeout business had stayed steady during Florida’s stay at home orders, Paul Peden, CEO of Rib City, is preparing for a future date when his restaurants will be able to safely reopen for dining room service adhering to the state of Florida’s guidelines. For more details, click here.

Pineapple House final completion.

GATES Construction completes new senior living facility

GATES Construction has completed building The Pineapple House at Sapphire Lakes, located at 7901 Radio Road in Naples. Owned and operated by Senior Care Residence Sapphire Lakes at Naples, LLC, and its partners, this facility will offer assisted living and memory care to its residents. The two-story, 115,381-square-foot facility will feature 127 living spaces, an open-air courtyard, fitness center, massage areas, hydrotherapy room, swimming pool, beauty salon, theater room, library, chapel, craft room, private dining room, clubroom bar, and many dining options that will include a bistro and an open-air patio. The facility has been designed and developed under the leadership of Michael Kerner, Development Consulting LLC and Phoenix Associates of South Florida Inc. in cooperation with IAK Florida Design LLC Ulrike Kerner. Construction administration has been provided by Lotus Architecture.

Spiro & Associates launches triage marketing website

Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Brand Architecture has launched a ‘triage marketing’ website called SpiroUnderground. It will help businesses in any industry get vital marketing messages out during COVID-19 and leading up to its aftermath. Some assets include free templates for press releases, social media content, e-blasts and banner ads as well as some simple “how-to” tips for gorilla marketing tactics.  For more details, visit

Habitat for Humanity earns ‘Platinum Seal of Transparency’ from GuideStar USA

GuideStar USA has awarded the Platinum Seal of Transparency, its highest level of recognition, to Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties According to GuideStar, platinum honorees share accurate, unbiased background information, financial statements, goals and other data that allows potential donors, funders and stakeholders to make educated decisions about nonprofits and the work they do. Only 740 of 99,382 organizations registered in Florida, or 0.7%, currently have the Platinum Seal, according to GuideStar’s online database. Habitat for Humanity earned the top designation for its willingness to share progress and results in important new ways that move far beyond simplistic financial ratios to reflect the organization’s impact on communities throughout Southwest Florida.

 Arc of Life Family Spinal Care begins outside adjustments

Arc of Life Family Spinal Care has begun outside adjustments known as The Sunshine Suite. This Bonita Springs-based chiropractic office has been offering outside adjustments for two days out of the work week. Arc of Life continues to follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Florida Department of Health’s guidelines practicing social distancing, establishing a virtual check-in process, limited groups to under 10, and sanitizing with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved products, according to a press release. For more details, visit

Marco Island Italian Deli & Market coming soon

Marco Island Italian Deli & Market is a newly designed 4,316-square-foot Italian restaurant with an additional market specializing in traditional Italian fare and deli items. The new restaurant will be located at 902 Park Ave. in Marco Island and will replace the current Italian Deli & Market restaurant, which is located at 247 N. Collier Blvd. Seating for the new restaurant will accommodate approximately 150 people. MK Architecture has completed the design phase for the owners, Jim and Jared Grifoni, and the project is currently under permit review. The existing restaurant is still open. View the menu here.  

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