Lead Photo: The Wine From Home raffle will take the place of SWFL Inc.’s annual in-person wine tasting. Details below.
MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR FUND OFFERS SUPPORT TO SMALL BUSINESSES
Small business owners and nonprofits across Florida can begin applying for low-interest loans of up to $100,000 and free business support through the Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) Fund—a new program created by community lenders aimed at helping small businesses and nonprofits navigate and rebuild from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. The SOAR Fund is launching with more than $50 million in initial commitments and aims to eventually lend $150 million or more to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees in 15 southern and southeastern states, including Florida. The loans are designed to reach the smallest of small businesses and those that have been historically underbanked, including those in rural areas and those owned by women, people of color, and immigrants. The fund works with and through local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). For more information and to apply, click here.
COVID-19 VACCINATIONS OFFERED TODAY, FRIDAY IN NAPLES
The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District is coordinating a COVID-19 vaccine opportunity for merchants, employees and their family members. The free Pfizer vaccinations will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Friday at The Naples Players theatre on Fifth Avenue South. To make a reservation, click here. Those seeking the vaccine must show a valid photo ID.
COVID-19 VACCINES AVAILABLE MAY 6 AT EMMANUEL PARK IN GOLDEN GATE ESTATES
Emmanuel Community Park in Golden Gate Estates will host a COVID-19 vaccine event on Thursday, May 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Pfizer vaccine will be available for anyone over the age of 18. Appointments are required, so walk-ins will not be able to be accommodated. To make an appointment, call Gina at 239-261-8805 or email email@example.com.
Video courtesy of WINK News
SCHOOLS WORKING WITH DOH TO MANAGE TEACHER VACCINATION SCHEDULES
Reactions to the second COVID-19 shot have many employers worried that several people will have to stay home from work at the same time, and that’s why special accommodations must be made for teachers in the classrooms. The school districts of Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties have all said they are staggering their staffs’ vaccine appointments, this way too many people are not out for an appointment or staying home with side effects simultaneously. In Lee County, for example, they worked with the Florida Department of Health to schedule all their staff on Fridays, so anyone who feels heavy side effects does not have to miss out on work the next day. They also do it by different grade levels and departments, so there is not too much strain on the schools, WINK News reports.
SUN COUNTRY AIRLINES ANNOUNCES SERVICE FROM MINNEAPOLIS TO PUNTA GORDA AIRPORT
Sun Country Airlines on Tuesday announced that it will begin service to Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays beginning Dec. 10. Introductory fares are as low as $89 one-way. Tuesday’s announcement is part of a larger expansion by the airline, which announced 18 new twice-weekly nonstop routes and welcomed nine new airports to its growing network. With the expansion, Sun Country Airlines will operate 93 routes across 69 airports in the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Sun Country will now offer service to five different airports on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
FRLA COLLIER CHAPTER MEETING TODAY IN MARCO ISLAND
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) Collier Chapter will host its first 2021 event at 5:30 p.m. today at JW Marriott – Marco Island. Randy Smith, CEO at Naples Transportation will moderate panelists who will discuss local legislative issues facing the hospitality industry. Panelists include Leo Ochs, outgoing Collier County manager; Mark Isackson incoming Collier County manager; Gary Price, Naples City Council; Andy Solis, Collier County commissioner; and Rich Blonna, Marco Island councilperson. Get tickets here.
COLUMBUS-BASED DONATOS PIZZA PLANS LOCATIONS IN BONITA SPRINGS, ESTERO, NAPLES
Donatos Pizza, a chain based in Columbus, Ohio, is planning locations in Bonita Springs, Estero and Naples. After recently opening pizzerias in Sarasota, Jacksonville Beach and Winter Park, the pizza chain has signed multi-store development agreements with multiple franchise groups for Bonita Springs to Marco Island, as well as greater Sarasota, Tampa/St. Pete, Orlando and Jacksonville, the company reports. The fast-casual concept, known for its “Edge to Edge” toppings was founded in 1963. Donatos and its franchise partners operate 168 restaurants in 10 states, as well as 79 additional locations in Red Robin restaurants and 14 in sports and entertainment venues.
BARSTOOL SPORTS PUTS NAPLES ON THE PIZZA MAP WITH VISITS TO INDUSTRY AND LOWBROW PIZZERIAS
Right after Dave “El Presidente” Portnoy of Barstool Sports made a video last week raving about the longtime Grandpa’s Pizza in Bonita Springs, he headed south that same day, making One Bite (“everybody knows the rules”) pizza review stops at Industry Pizza in North Naples and LowBrow Pizza in East Naples. Both Naples-area pizzerias are co-owned by Chris Jones, the former country club chef who puts his culinary stamp on his creations. At Industry Pizza, 2075 Pine Ridge Road, Portnoy gave a 7.7 rating to “The Plain Cheese” pizza, which is anything but plain with three cheeses: mozzarella, caciocavallo and shaved Parmesan. “This seems like kind of fancy pizza,” he says. “This is almost artisan pizza.” Jones is getting “fancy” T-shirts made to capitalize on Portnoy’s visit, which puts Naples on the pizza map. “It’s a big deal,” Jones says. Then, Portnoy traveled about 7 miles south to LowBrow Pizza, 3148 Tamiami Trail E., which just celebrated its third anniversary last week. Although he rarely scores Neapolitan-style pizza above 7, Portnoy awarded a 7.1 to LowBrow’s Maggie, short for Margherita pizza. While at LowBrow, Portnoy bought a T-shirt and an $800 painting on the wall of baby Yoda eating pizza that was painted by local artist Esau Rodriguez. In Portnoy’s honor, Jones plans to introduce the “El Presidente” pizza with everything Portnoy looks for in a pizza: just cheese, extra charred and extra well done with very little flop.
NAPLES CLASSICAL ACADEMY CONSTRUCTION PROGRESSES
Naples Classical Academy, a new tuition-free classical curriculum K-12 charter school in North Naples, is on pace to open on schedule and at full student capacity for the 2021-22 school year. Construction of the two-story, 70,000-square-foot building is on track to be completed for the school to open in August. Summit Construction Management Group, the company handling construction for Naples Classical Academy, has poured the slab foundation and formed the building exterior through tilt wall construction. Sports and recreational fields are also being developed for the new school year. Located at 10270 Immokalee Road, the 17-acre campus also has future development phases planned, which include a 14,000-square-foot gymnasium. Families who are interested in enrolling their students for the 2021-22 school year are encouraged to apply now. Naples Classical Academy will open for the first year with grades K-10. Eleventh grade will be added the subsequent year, and 12th grade will be added the year after.
CORSO TO DISCUSS SPACE FORCE PROGRAM WITH ROTARY CLUB OF NAPLES
Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt P.A. Florida Civil Trial Expert Michael Corso will be speaking at The Rotary Club of Naples luncheon today. Corso will discuss what’s new and coming from NASA and share information on the U.S. Space Force. Corso obtained his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering (AAE) from Purdue University. He won the “Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award,” in 2011, an honor bestowed on less than 2% of Purdue AAE graduates. He has continued to support his alma mater by serving on the Industrial Advisory Council, which comprises leaders in industry, government, military and astronauts. Today, Corso is Florida Bar board certified in civil trial law and business litigation law. Prior to joining Henderson Franklin, Corso was a captain in the U.S. Air Force and completed his military career in the JAG lawyer program. He received his law degree from Villanova University.
CLA TO DISCUSS SECURITY RISKS ON MAY 4
CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen), which has offices in Fort Myers and Naples, will host a complimentary webinar, “Are Your Providers Keeping Your Data Safe?” on May 4. The webcast will dive deep into the security risks and concerns of working with third-party vendors. CLA will discuss actionable insights you may be able to implement to increase the safety and security of your digital information, the company states. Time is planned for Q&A. Register here by May 3.
VIRTUAL VENUE NAPLES REBRANDS WITH EXPANSION
Virtual Venue Naples is expanding from exclusively serving Naples to all of Southwest Florida and changing its name to Virtual Venue SWFL to reflect the growth. Led by Brian and Nicole Roland, Virtual Venue SWFL, in conjunction with its event partners, seeks to provide the tools needed to plan the ultimate small gathering, virtual or hybrid event. Virtual Venue SWFL provides turnkey services for businesses, individuals, charity organizations and others to be able to plan events at a destination of their choosing. Emerging out of the need for change brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Virtual Venue SWFL’s team assists with all aspects of an event, from finding the ideal venue to planning the perfect menu and everything in between. Virtual Venue SWFL announces an open call for applications from event venues, private homes, hotels, yachts, event planners and other professionals who wish to be considered as an exclusive Virtual Venue SWFL partner. All interested parties should contact Josh Cook at Josh@craveculinaire.com.
ALDO CASTILLO GALLERY CELEBRATES 28TH ANNIVERSARY
The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District announced Aldo Castillo Gallery will be celebrating its 28th anniversary this year. Located at 634 Fifth Ave. S., Aldo Castillo Gallery was established in Chicago in 1993 by Aldo Castillo, a former member of the Chicago Art Dealers Association. The gallery relocated to Southwest Florida in 2011 and for the past 10 years has operated from space in the Miromar Design Center in Estero. The gallery debuted on Fifth Avenue South in late 2020 and is currently celebrating its first season along Naples’ historic Main Street. Aldo Castillo Gallery offers paintings, photography, drawings, sculpture, works on paper, digital art and new media installations. Castillo is an international art dealer, curator, artist, human rights activist and promoter of contemporary art. He has organized numerous art shows and art fairs in China, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the U.S. To celebrate its first season on Fifth Avenue South, the gallery is inviting art lovers and collectors to its first official featured artist celebration on May 13. The date will coincide with the “Evening on Fifth” held on the second Thursday of each month.
Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida receives two grants
Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida has received two grants totaling $5,500 from the Community Foundation of Collier County. These funds will support new technology for the organization as well as its JA Inspire Virtual program. JA Inspire provides eighth graders the opportunity to explore potential career paths and connect with local employers for high-wage and high-demand jobs in the community. After five explorative lessons integrating work and career readiness, including a personalized career assessment, students attend an interactive virtual career expo exposing them to various industries, career opportunities, and required education levels. The Community Foundation of Collier County awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process. Selected organizations receive grant dollars from the Changing Needs Fund. This fund is made up of donors who believe in the Community Foundation’s ability to identify and grant to the most community’s most current needs.
SWFL Inc. to host wine raffle to support professional development programs
SWFL Inc. is hosting a “Wine from Home” raffle with $100 raffle tickets available now through May 13 here. On May 14, one winner’s name will be pulled, and that person will go home with all 40 bottles of wine and liquor, along with a private wine tasting for six. All proceeds will support the SWFL Inc. Foundation, including its Leadership SWFL and Career Compass programs. Businesses across Southwest Florida have donated bottles to the raffle. CRU Wine Club in Bonita Springs has donated a private wine tasting for the winner as well. The Wine from Home Raffle is sponsored by Florida Gulf Coast University, NCH Healthcare System and Physicians Regional Healthcare System.
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