Gulfshore Business Daily: April 5

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Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to kick off a partnership that addresses the impacts of harmful algal blooms (HAB) to Florida’s environment, economy and quality of life. This MOU, signed Thursday by Mote President/CEO Michael P. Crosby and FGCU President Michael V. Martin, sets the framework for future collaboration between the two organizations. Mote and The Water School at FGCU will be pursuing productive scientific research, innovative technology development, and undergraduate and graduate education with a focus on harmful algal blooms. Several opportunities for partnership between the two organizations are outlined in the MOU, with a term of five years and the option to renew.


The Naples Winter Wine Festival (NWWF) has been honored as Wine Spectator magazine’s top 2018 charity wine auction in the country for the 13th time since the festival’s 2001 inception. The honor recognizes last year’s 2018 NWWF, which raised a total of $12.8 million during its live auction and $2.3 million during its Fund a Need program, totaling $15.15 million to help benefit the at-risk and underprivileged children of Collier County. One hundred percent of funds raised under the tent during the festival directly supports charitable programs that improve the physical, emotional and educational lives of underprivileged and at-risk children in Collier County. As a result of funds raised during the 2018 festival, the annual event has raised more than $176 million for its founding organization, the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF).


Retina Health Center Founder Dr. Alexander Eaton (pictured left) recently presented to the World Retina Congress in Fort Lauderdale on a new finding in patients with diabetic retinopathy that are treated with the Iluvien implant. Not only does it help to reduce vision loss from diabetic macular edema, the new data indicates it also slows the progression of neuroretinal degeneration (NRD), which is the loss of neural tissue in the back of the eye, according to a press release. Retina Health Center participated in the collaborative study with university researchers in Iowa, Texas and Austria. The researchers found that the Iluvien implant slowed progression by 75 percent. NRD also occurs in glaucoma, at a higher rate than that seen in individuals with diabetes.


A. Vernon Allen Builder (AVA) will collaborate with Florida Gulf Coast University as it launches its new construction management program. AVA’s owners Ryan Benson and Andy Bringardner will serve as adjunct instructors for the new program, lecturing on custom residential home construction and building science applications. As part of the collaboration, the firm will also be accepting interns enrolled in the program who are interested in a construction management career path. FGCU received approval from the Board of Governors of the State University Center of Florida to launch the new program, and several builders and contractors in the area are participating in the launch.


SCORE Southwest Florida will be holding a series of Lunch-and-Learn Seminars at the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center to help businesses start up and grow. The programs will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 3903 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Suite 6, Fort Myers. The series includes “Build to Sell: 8 Things That Drive Your Company Value,” presented on April 9 by Hallmark Business Brokers Inc. owner Dane DeSantis; “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Made Easy,” presented on April 25 by Scott Gonnello, SEO/web expert and author of Common SEO Mistakes; and “The Formulate: 5 Surprising Ways to Boost the Value of a Business,” presented on May 7 by DeSantis. Lunch-and-Learn Seminars are open to the public and include a box lunch. The cost is $20 and pre-registration is required here. For more details, contact SCORE Southwest Florida at (239) 931.9807 or

The Smart Lab by Suffolk 


Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Urban Land magazine recently recognized Suffolk as one of the three companies making construction and building operation smarter and more efficient. ULI is the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world, a press release states. Suffolk was noted for their establishment of “smart labs” in offices in San Francisco, New York, Miami, Tampa, Dallas, and Los Angeles to test and deploy different programs and technologies. The Smart Lab is a collaborative environment where Suffolk’s team identifies, tests, pilots and implements solutions and innovations for the construction industry. The Lab includes the Data Wall, a Huddlewall, live jobsite feeds, a Virtual Reality Cave and collaborative space. The technology reinvents the building process and allows Suffolk to collect and use data to build and plan smarter, manage projects more efficiently, provide clients with accurate cost estimates (reducing or eliminating budget overruns) and create a safe job environment.


Fort Myers Film Festival will show 89 films over five days, from April 10-14, in eight locations in Fort Myers. Tickets are $10 per film or $295 for an all-access VIP membership for all events and parties. The opening night red carpet gala at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is $25 per person or $150 including the after-party and jazz concert by Leroy Jones, solo trumpeter for the Harry Connick Jr. band and namesake of the evening’s film “A Man and His Trumpet: The Leroy Jones Story.”  Tickets may be purchased at


Everglades Wonder Gardens hosts Donor Appreciation Party

The Everglades Wonder Gardens’ Light the Way campaign concluded with a Donor Appreciation Party on, March 28, to thank those who contributed to the initiative. Donors raised more than $55,000 to update the electrical system throughout the Wonder Gardens. The goal of the campaign was to raise $50,000 by February, which was exceeded and still growing. The night included light refreshments, walks through the gardens and speeches given by Thomas Hecker, CEO of the Everglades Wonder Gardens and Wes Weidenmiller, chairman of the board.

Naples Therapeutic Riding Center brings Kentucky Derby Party back

Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC) will host the Kentucky Derby Party from 4:30–7:30 p.m. on May 4 under the covered arena at its campus in Naples. NTRC’s Kentucky Derby Party is back after the charity took a few years off from hosting the annual fundraiser while completing a multimillion-dollar capital expansion. The event will be hosted at the newly expanded campus for the first time in the event’s history. Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres provided by catering sponsor, Shula’s, one complimentary drink ticket, and a cash bar. During the fundraiser attendees can bid on the winning horses, with prizes awarded. Prizes will also be awarded to winners of the Best Hat category for women and the Crazy Pants category for men. Proceeds will help support NTRC’s therapeutic riding and equine-related group programs. Courtyard outdoor tickets are $75 per person, a limited number of indoor seating is available for $125 per person, and tables of eight are $1,000. Sponsorship opportunities are available. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit or call (239) 596-2988.

21st Century Oncology to host homeless veterans collection drive

21st Century Oncology (21CO) is hosting its second annual Homeless Veterans Collection Drive in collaboration with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department from noon to 2 p.m. on April 12 at its corporate support center in Fort Myers. The collection drive will again be held in honor of the late Debra Dempsey, 21CO’s former veterans program and relations manager, who passed away in 2017 following a nearly 40-year career of helping veterans. Some of the most needed items include water bottles, sunglasses, bike locks, rain ponchos, socks, undergarments, ear plugs, bug repellant, sunscreen, canned fruit, and whole grains. Other items, such as non-perishable food items and toiletries, are also requested. Following the drive, the collected items will be donated to Community Cooperative and American Legion Post 38 in downtown Fort Myers. For more information, contact Sherri Kubesh at (239) 839-6015.

 LARC Aiming for Ability Clay Shooting Tournament upcoming

Lee Association for Remarkable Citizens (LARC) will host the inaugural “Aiming for Ability” Clay Shooting Tournament on May 17 at Sarasota Trap Skeet & Clays in Nokomis, Florida. All proceeds will benefit LARC’s newest program – LAB: Learn, Achieve, Become. Registration begins at 8:45 a.m., a mandatory safety meeting is at 9:30 a.m., with the tournament following at 10 a.m. Lunch and awards will immediately follow. The entry fee is $500 per foursome or $125 per person and includes breakfast and lunch, ear protection, 50 targets, two boxes of ammunition and a golf cart. Participants must be 18 years old. Shotgun rentals are available for an additional fee.  Trophies will be awarded to first through third place teams. The event is sponsored by Mark Loren Designs and Miloff Aubuchon Realty Group. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, visit or contact Angela Katz at (239) 334-6285.

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