Gulfshore Business Daily: April 3

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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 below to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan. Details here


Although the majority of businesses in Southwest Florida have experienced temporary adverse effects because of the coronavirus pandemic, about a quarter of local businesses expect permanent damage, according to preliminary data from a local study conducted in late March by the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University. More than 25 percent of small businesses in the region expect permanent adverse effects from the crisis, while 21 percent of businesses with 25 or more employees expect long-term economic consequences. On the flip side, nearly 3 percent of the owners of both large and small businesses in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties expect potential positive effects on their businesses, the study shows. Unfortunately, some local businesses reporting to be temporarily closed now because of the coronavirus effect may not actually reopen, says economist Christopher Westley, dean of the Lutgert College of Business at FGCU. “I think there will be a large number who are permanently closed,” he said. “We’ll have a better idea about that in a month or two.” The FGCU survey, which had more than 1,000 responses, included six questions related to customer demand, sales revenue, working from home and expectations about the coronavirus effect to establish a baseline for economic conditions now so that they can be tracked over time. The FGCU research team will ask the same six questions during the second half of each month to track how conditions change. 


On Thursday, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation started accepting grant applications for its Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, created to help restaurant industry employees experiencing extraordinary hardship in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Subject to the availability of funds contributed to the program, a one-time grant of $500 will be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis directly to applicants who have had a decrease in wages or loss of employment because of the pandemic. Click here to apply or make donations to the fund. 


The Democratic National Committee is delaying its presidential nominating convention until the week of Aug. 17 after prospective nominee Joe Biden said he didn’t think it would be possible to hold a normal convention in mid-July because of the coronavirus pandemic. Convention CEO Joe Solmonese confirmed the decision in a statement Thursday. The convention originally was scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee. WINK News shared this AP story. For more details, click here.



The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) on Thursday hailed a new state-approved program that will allow nursing homes to hire personal care attendants to provide basic care services to their elder residents, freeing up more highly trained nursing professionals to provide more skilled care amid the COVID-19 crisis. FHCA immediately launched a recruitment effort for the new Florida Hearts & Hands Program to target individuals, including in the hard-hit restaurant and lodging industries, who could be hired by nursing homes for the newly created positions. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has approved the program on a temporary basis, currently through May 1 but with the flexibility to extend it if necessary. The goal of the program is to encourage individuals serving in these positions to consider career advancement in the long-term care profession beyond the current emergency situation. For more details, click here.



As an emergency informational measure relating to island businesses and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce will host a free, Zoom-platform virtual meeting at 2 p.m. on April 6 with Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and director of the Lee County Economic Development Office John Talmage. Talmage will update the community on where island businesses stand from the county’s economic perspective and to offer insight on the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. The chamber has sent members a Zoom invitation to register for the virtual event. Members must RSVP by 5 p.m. today to receive a link to the Zoom meeting in advance. During the meeting, questions must be submitted through the chat feature. At the end of the speaker discussions, the moderator will present the questions to the speakers. If you have any questions about the meeting or Zoom app, contact Ashley Pignato at


Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties has transitioned its Habitat Homebuyer Information Meetings to a webinar format as the nonprofit follows federal guidelines to help control the spread of the coronavirus. To register for an upcoming webinar, visit For information on how to submit applications, call (239) 652-4663. Updates about Habitat programs and events will be posted on the organization’s Facebook page. Gulfshore Playhouse has launched an immersive audience engagement program–Artful Distancing. The free, weekly series of virtual theater-based content is designed to connect audiences, from the comfort of home, to the larger theater patron community around the country. Register here.


United Way of the Florida Keys and United Way of Collier County announce organizational merger

United Way of the Florida Keys and United Way of Collier County announced that, as of Wednesday, the two organizations are merging to create the United Way of Collier and the Keys. Debbie Mathews Finch will serve as board chair in the new organization and Maria Jones as vice chair. Through this unification, the organization can increase operational efficiency and streamline duplicated internal processes, ultimately resulting in more dollars available for the community. By combining forces, the United Way of Collier and the Keys is better positioned to secure funding and scale-up response efforts needed to address crises like the current COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release. United Way of the Florida Keys President/CEO Leah Stockton has been named Florida Keys area president with the new organization. United Way of Collier County’s President/CEO Steve Sanderson will remain in his position with the new organization. Leaders from Monroe County and Collier County will serve on the new United Way of Collier and the Keys board. Local Advisory Boards will also be created.

Boys & Girls Club of Collier County is feeding those in need.

Boys & Girls Club of Collier County working tirelessly to support children in need

Boys & Girls Club of Collier County is stepping up to ensure kids and families in Collier County are receiving the support they need during the COVID-19 crisis. Last weekend, over 500 meals were distributed from the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County’s Bolch Campus in Immokalee. Lunch was served to children under 18 on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m. and ending once the food ran out. In Naples, club staff drove to members’ homes dropping of donated meals from Culver’s on Rattlesnake Hammock Road. Meal service continued on March 31, with Club staff assisting Harry Chapin Food Bank in distributing over 450 lunches to kids in need in Immokalee. This weekend, the Boys & Girls Club anticipates serving another 500 meals to those in need. Over 500 “Club On The Go” kits have also been distributed in the past week containing supplies to assist children with virtual learning. Boys & Girls Club of Collier County has been offering virtual learning activities daily via their website since March 18. For more details, click here

Restaurants offer charitable programs amid COVID-19

You can send the gift of pizza to anyone who needs it with the “Pizza It Forward” initiative honored by Chris Jones, owner of LowBrow Pizza and Beer in East Naples and Industry Pizza & Slice Shop in North Naples. Call LowBrow Pizza at (239) 529-6919 or Industry Pizza at (239) 431-6881 to purchase a voucher for $15 plus tax, which will provide pizza and a salad to the recipient. The local pizzerias will deliver the meals free of charge. Story reported by WINK News.
Millennial Brewing Co.’s Pay It Forward Pints program to honor those who are making sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. For $5, you can add a pint of microbrew to your purchase for a local health care professional. Millennial Brewing will then deliver your order and hold the pint for the health care professional to redeem when the taproom reopens to the public. These discounted pints can also be purchased for a first responder or a friend or neighbor who has helped out in some way during this outbreak. To schedule delivery and purchase your pint, click here
Bell Tower in Fort Myers is partnering with United Way, four of the shopping center’s restaurants and the Fort Myers community to provide meals for local first responders during the COVID-19 crisis. Members of the community are being asked to contact one of the four participating restaurants, purchase a $25 gift card and say: “Keep a First Responder Strong” when they call. The restaurants and United Way will then deliver the meal and a personal message from the purchaser to a first responder at one of the area’s local hospitals, the Lee County sheriff’s office or others serving on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic. Bell Tower is purchasing the first four gift cards and has a goal of reaching 50 gift cards by April 8. Participating Bell Tower restaurants include Blue Pointe Oyster Bar & Seafood GrilleGrimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven PizzeriaDaRuMa Japanese Steak House & Sushi Lounge, and T.G.I. Friday’s. The shopping center encourages everyone in the area to use the hashtag #keep1strepondersstrong to share information about this program on social media. 
Now through April 30, Roy’s will accept any valid gift card from any company as payment for up to 50% of your food order. Call to place your order between 2-8 p.m. for pick-up between 4-8 p.m. If you have a non-Roy’s gift card you would like to use, the restaurant will need the card number, pin and telephone number to confirm the value and use it as a form of payment; up to 50% off your food order. Call the restaurant upon arrival for curbside delivery. For more details, click here.


BRP Group Inc. acquires Insurance Risk Partners LLC

BRP Group Inc., an independent insurance distribution firm delivering tailored insurance solutions, announced that Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners LLC (BKS-Partners), a subsidiary of BRP Group with Southwest Florida offices, has acquired substantially all assets of Insurance Risk Partners LLC (IRP), Oklahoma City-based provider of P&C insurance and additional consulting services. IRP generated annual revenues of approximately $7.0 million. Following this partnership, IRP will become part of and transition over time to the company’s BKS-Partners operating group and brand.

Moran named top advisor in Florida by Barron’s

Tom Moran—the founder, chief executive officer and senior PIM portfolio manager of Moran Wealth Management in Naples—has been recognized by Barron’s as the No. 1 Advisor in the State of Florida on its annual list of America’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors in the U.S. This is the seventh consecutive year that Moran has been named to this list. Barron’s is a financial weekly newspaper published by Dow Jones & Co. since 1921. Barron’s Top 1,200 rankings are based on data provided by around 4,000 of the nation’s most productive advisors. Factors included in the rankings are: assets under management, revenue produced for the firm, regulatory record, quality of practice and philanthropic work. Investment performance isn’t an explicit component.

Founders Michael Sheeley, AIA and Kenleigh Buckingham

MK Architecture celebrates first year in business

MK Architecture has completed its first year of business. MK Architecture’s first full year of operation saw the completion of projects including Lennar Portico, The Pineapple House of Naples, Herons Glen Golf & Country Club’s fitness facility and the multi-family residences design to be located at 710 Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples. On the boards for 2020 include the renovation project of Jones Walker Palm Gardens Apartments, Herons Glen Golf & Country Club’s restaurant and the design for Fort Myers’ newest multi-family high-rise building along the River District. MK Architecture was formed by business partners Michael Sheeley and Kenleigh Buckingham. 

Fort Myers Film Festival temporarily on hold

The Fort Myers Film Festival’s 10th annual event, scheduled for May 6-10, has been temporarily put on hold as it coordinates details with venues and partners with safety in mind. For more details, click here.

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