LEE COMMISSIONERS APPROVE STRATEGIC PLANNING PRIORITIES
Lee County commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve the consensus direction set at its annual strategic planning workshop earlier this year that identifies priorities for fiscal year 2021-22. During the daylong event on Feb. 23 at Sanibel Harbour Resort, the board discussed the progress the county made in 2020 as well as priorities for the coming year. Those priorities include proposing amendments to the economic element of the LeePlan and explore further redevelopment opportunities in North Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres; buying locally as much as possible, including potential changes to local bidder preference policies; increasing parks amenities and access to Conservation 20/20 preserves and analyzing local and state sports facilities to assess potential niche opportunities that can be considered at a board workshop this fall. Additional information from the workshop is available at a special landing page the county created by clicking here.
LEE COMMISSIONERS AWARD STATE GRANTS TO PARTNERS FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Lee County commissioners awarded additional 2019-20 state housing initiatives partnership (SHIP) grant agreements totaling $294,884 to local partners for affordable housing. Grants awarded were $100,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties Inc. for construction of two single-family houses for two very low-income households with priority for households with special needs; $94,884 to LARC Inc. for rental rehabilitation of a group home for six very low-income individuals with special needs; and $100,000 to Dunbar Improvements Association Inc. for rental rehabilitation for five very low-income households with special needs. The SHIP program is funded by revenues collected by the state from a surcharge on documentary stamps and distributed to counties and local governments as grants made on a population-based formula.
LEE COMMISSIONERS ACCEPT $180,000 GRANT FOR WATER QUALITY RESEARCH
Lee County commissioners voted Tuesday to accept a $180,000 innovative technologies grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for a water quality and treatment research project. The research, in partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University and the South Florida Water Management District, will test various methods for removal of nitrogen from the Caloosahatchee River surface waters in order to improve water quality. The research will take place at the C-43 Water Quality Treatment and Testing Project Boma site in Glades County, which includes 12 tanks called mesocosms containing wetland vegetation that were used to conduct a water quality assessment of nutrient removal from Caloosahatchee River water that was allowed to flow through the wetland cells. This project will utilize some of these mesocosms to test innovative technology that could reduce nutrients in water bodies and prevent or mitigate harmful algal blooms. For more information on Lee County’s efforts to protect and improve water quality, click here.
STORM SMART SELLS TO ROTUNDA CAPITAL
After 25 years as the largest hurricane, storm and home protection company in the State of Florida, Storm Smart Executive Chairman and Founder Brian Rist announces the sale of a controlling interest in the company to Rotunda Capital Partners, a lower middle-market private equity firm. Rist will retain a significant equity interest and continue to serve on the board of directors. In addition, John Boland will remain as CEO of Storm Smart. Rist founded Storm Smart on Aug. 5, 1996, after experiencing the damaging effects of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Storm Smart now manufactures and installs innovative code-approved hurricane protection products such as storm catcher screens, impact-resistant windows, aluminum shutters and storm panels to more customers across Southwest Florida. Storm Smart currently employs over 250 people and all employees will remain with the company after the sale is final.
SECOND LOCATION OF BAR TULIA OPENING APRIL 21 IN NORTH NAPLES
Chef Vincenzo Betulia is launching his much-anticipated second location of Bar Tulia on April 21 at Mercato in North Naples. The new local restaurant and bar will have double the indoor space of Betulia’s highly acclaimed original Bar Tulia on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples. Diners can expect a signature European farmhouse design, a casual indoor-outdoor vibe, street-side dining for 75 guests, and an innovative Mediterranean-inspired menu with new and classic libations. The fourth restaurant under the umbrella of Campagna Hospitality Group will employ more than 100, joining The French, Osteria Tulia, and the original Bar Tulia, all on Fifth Avenue South. The executive chef of Bar Tulia Mercato will be Kayla Pfeiffer, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and former executive chef of The French. Bar Tulia Mercato is filling the extensively renovated former space of the Wine Loft, 9118 Strada Place, Suite 8150, near Silverspot Cinema.
EL GAUCHO INCA OPENS SECOND RESTAURANT IN ESTERO
Chef Mariano Maldonado and Rocio Navarrete have expanded El Gaucho Inca’s local restaurant concept in Estero. On Tuesday night, the husband-and-wife team opened a second location of El Gaucho Inca on U.S. 41 across from Coconut Point mall. The Coconut Trace restaurant space had been vacant since Pei Wei closed there in August 2018. El Gaucho Inca has been a popular dining spot in Fort Myers for 10 years. Since launching in April 2011, the local restaurant has melded savory flavors from South America, serving Peruvian cuis
AESTHETIC PRACTICE OPENS IN DOWNTOWN NAPLES
New York City eyelid surgeon Dr. Irene Gladstein has opened a new location on Naples’ Fifth Avenue South. The doctor began providing aesthetic and cosmetic procedures to Neopolitans from her new location on March 29. Project Glammers takes a natural, holistic approach to beauty enhancement, creating individual plans for men and women to achieve the most beautiful version of themselves, the company states. Gladstein opened her New York City practices in 2008, focusing on aesthetic and reconstructive surgery. She then shifted strictly to cosmetic procedures. Today, Project Glammers is ranked among the top 100 Sculptra and top 250 Allergan providers in the U.S. In addition to procedures designed to counter the usual aesthetic issues of aging, Project Glammers also offers services designed to prevent the effects of aging, like collagen stimulating facial contouring, new generation PRP treatments for face and body and more, along with noninvasive procedures.
LEE HEALTH TO HOST DRIVE-THRU HEALTH FAIR ON APRIL 17
Lee Health is hosting a drive-thru health fair from 8-11 a.m. on April 17 at Lee Health Coconut Point to provide Southwest Florida residents with health and wellness information in a safe, physically distanced environment. Participants will drive up to the first station where registration will be confirmed and they will be given a bag to gather materials from Lee Health and community organizations as they make their way through the route. Participants are required to wear a mask. At each stop, participants will be greeted by wellness experts with information on health services, physicians and local community resources. In addition to the health fair, the Lee Health bloodmobile will be on-site collecting donations. Lee Health is currently in urgent need of blood donations to replenish supplies, and all blood received remains in Lee County to care for Lee Health’s patients. For more information and to register for the health fair and antibody study, click here.
FIRST-EVER EMERGE SWFL HACKATHON TAKES PLACE APRIL 24
The Emerge SWFL Hackathon from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 24 at Millennial Brewing to enhance Southwest Florida’s tech workforce by providing equitable opportunities for all. The purpose of the Hackathon is for dozens of elite and newcomer developers, designers, and business developers to come together and compete in solving a problem and presenting the leading solution. Teams will be tasked with a prompt related directly to tech workforce development with an emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and equity. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet professionals and mentors in the region’s tech industry; learn about companies like Emerge, Endevr, and Stickboy; and compete in the first-ever Emerge SWFL Hackathon head-to-head with fellow emerging tech professionals. The Emerge SWFL Hackathon is powered by Endevr and Stickboy. To register for the free event, click here.
PR UNIVERSITY TO BE HELD ON MAY 21 AT FSW
The Southwest Florida Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) is set to host the annual 2021 PR University, focusing on the evolution and future of the PR industry. The event, “Tackling the challenges of our changing world,” from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on May 21 in AA, Room 177, at Florida Southwestern State College (FSW) in Fort Myers. PR University will focus on the exploration of new approaches within the profession while staying true to the guiding principles of the PR industry. This year’s PR University will showcase industry-leading professionals in tourism, business development, media and more. Registration for PR University is $55 for students, $75 for members and $99 for nonmembers, and includes breakfast and lunch. FPRA members can earn 2 APR continuing education credits. To register, click here.
CARTER, ROEPSTORFF ELECTED TO BOARD OF HORIZON FOUNDATION
The Horizon Foundation has elected Ryan Carter of Scotlynn USA and attorney Matthew Roepstorff of GrayRobinson P.A. to serve two-year terms as members at large for the board of the Horizon Foundation. Carter and Roepstorff will serve to grow the Foundation’s stable of investors and build a stronger foundation for Lee County businesses and citizens. Carter is executive vice president and co-founder of Scotlynn USA Division Inc., a logistics and transportation company that specializes in hauling refrigerated produce. Roepstorff, attorney at GrayRobinson P.A., serves as counsel and liaison between community development and redevelopment entities and local government to foster and facilitate economic growth. The Horizon Foundation is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization established to provide a funding vehicle for businesses and individuals to invest in the long-term economic development and vitality of Lee County.
FIFTH AVENUE SOUTH LAUNCHES PODCAST SERIES
The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District announced the launch of a brand-new podcast series, “Movers & Shapers,” featuring influential business owners, restauranteurs, politicians, city officials, entrepreneurs and others speaking on topics of interest in the downtown Naples area. The first two interviews for the season have already aired with City of Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann and Sails Co-Founder Veljko Pavicevic speaking on the financial impact of COVID-19 on local businesses, future enhancements to Fifth Avenue South, team building and customer service, and expansion of the Sails restaurant holdings. The podcast is hosted by Fifth Avenue South BID Executive Director Bruce Barone Jr. and is posted on the Fifth Avenue South website. It also is available through other social media platforms, including iTunes, Spotify and Pandora.
Scotlynn USA Division gives back to community in partnership with United Way
Volunteers from Scotlynn USA Division have participated in several United Way Days of Caring throughout the last few months. In February, the group helped LARC Inc. with some projects that had been on their wish list once they were able to reopen. volunteers took time to rake, mulch, put up part of a roof on a shade structure, weed and trim. The Scotlynn team also helped another United Way partner agency to freshen up their campus. They painted parking lot lines and a fence at Saluscare’s Colonial campus, power washed, pulled some old bushes, and gave the entrance an overall facelift. Scotlynn has several more projects planned with United Way in the upcoming months. United Way’s Days of Caring is a year-round program that connects groups with nonprofit agencies in need of assistance. To set up a Day of Caring, contact Kim Berghs at 239-433-7547 or Kim@UnitedWayLee.org
Naples Garden Club awards STARability Foundation grant for community garden project
The Naples Garden Club has awarded the STARability Foundation a $10,000 grant to support a community garden project. The community garden is a collaborative, multifaceted project among the City of Naples, the River Park Community Center and STARability that centers on revitalizing River Park’s 2,000-square-foot garden. The garden will serve as a vehicle to teach critical life skills to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are enrolled in STARability’s community-based programs, including the Junior Trailblazer Academy, an after-school program for high school students. Participants will work with STARability instructors, volunteers and community partners to revitalize the garden over the coming year. As the garden takes shape, it will also offer at-risk youth enrolled in River Park’s programs a place where they can connect to their environment and continue learning. Furthermore, the garden will promote inclusion and accessibility for neighboring residents and businesses, as well as the wider downtown Naples community, through educational opportunities, events and other activities.
Best Buddies Southwest Florida to host Friendship Walk CARE-a-Van April 17
The Best Buddies Friendship Walk CARE-a-Van will take place on April 17 at Miromar Outlets in Estero. Since 2009, more than 250,000 participants have walked in over 60 cities and raised more than $24 million to support the inclusive programs Best Buddies International provides. Best Buddies in Southwest Florida is expecting to have approximately 300 attendees CARE-a-Vaning for inclusion. The drive-thru CARE-a-Van begins at 9 a.m. and will run until 11 a.m. at Miromar Outlets in the area nearest the Playland entrance. With safety in mind, registered walkers and guests will remain in their cars to drive a pre-set course at Miromar to visit multiple stations that will provide various giveaways. Best Buddies welcomes participation from everyone throughout the community based on how they feel most comfortable. Music will accompany cheerleaders, therapy dogs, Way Too Tall Torrie, mascots and superheroes. Morgan “Moose” Wright from NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” will be serving as Grand Marshall. Register here. To volunteer for the event, submit this form.
Free autism screening for young children held on April 23
Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, in partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida, offers a free monthly autism spectrum disorder screening for toddlers 18 months to five years of age. The next screening will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Apr. 23 at the Pediatric Specialist Office, 15901 Bass Road, Suite 102, Fort Myers. The ASD screening is conducted by the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. The screenings are administered by an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, who has extensive training and experience in typical child development and developmental disorders. A physician referral is not required. To schedule a screening, call 239-343-6838.
Fore Love & Wellness fundraiser aims to support mental health and suicide prevention
When NFL punter Greg Montgomery died by suicide in August 2020, his family decided they would become a force to improve mental health services in Southwest Florida and beyond. They created The Gregory H. Montgomery Jr. Foundation for Ultimate Growth and will hold its first major fundraiser Fore Love & Wellness on April 29-30 at the Vineyards Country Club in Naples. Fore Love & Wellness, a play on the golf and tennis tournaments that anchor the event, includes a silent auction that’s live now online and culminates with a live reception, in-person and online. The emcee is fellow NFL punter Sean Landeta, a friend of Greg Montgomery and a famed player who logged 22 seasons in the league. Tickets are available here. All funds raised will support mental wellness efforts and suicide prevention.
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