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


A drop in consumer demand and sales revenue because of the coronavirus threat has had a devastating effect on employment at businesses in Southwest Florida, according to data released Monday from a local study conducted in late March by the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University. While 65 percent of respondents laid off fewer than 20 percent of their employees, 20 percent of respondents laid off more than 80 percent of their employees. Twenty-one percent of small firms and 17 percent of large firms laid off more than 80 percent of their employees in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. Meanwhile, nearly a third of the respondents reduced hours for more than 80 percent of their employees. About 60 percent of large firms and 47 percent of small firms reduced hours for fewer than 20 percent of their employees. More than a third of small firms and 20 percent of large firms reduced hours for more than 80 percent of their employees. To fulfill social distancing mandates during the pandemic, 30 percent of regional firms have more than 80 percent of their employees working from home, and 53 percent of firms have fewer than 20 percent of their employees working from home. Contrasting the size of businesses, 37 percent of small firms and 16 percent of large firms have more than 80 percent of their employees working from home. During the March 23-28 survey period, 83 percent of respondents reported that none of their employees were diagnosed with the coronavirus while 8 percent said they did have employees that were infected. Twelve percent of the large firms and 6 percent of the small firms said they did have employees diagnosed with the virus or flu-like symptoms.  For the full survey results, click here.

Video courtesy of WINK News


Lee Health expects to begin in-house testing this week for the samples collected at its mobile collection sites. Doing that should reduce wait times for results and provide a clearer picture of the coronavirus cases. That’s crucial because some have waited days or even weeks. Story reported by WINK News.

Video courtesy of WINK News


The Florida surgeon general told Lee Health’s CEO the state’s peak for the coronavirus is expected to happen in early May. A new interactive chart by the University of Washington projects May 3 as the day coronavirus spread will be at its peak in Florida. This is later than many other states, which gives Florida more time to prepare. Cases in Southwest Florida are currently doubling every three to four days. Story reported by WINK News.

Video courtesy of WINK News


You could see money in your bank account as soon as Friday, but scammers are also on the lookout to get their hands on your stimulus check. You do not have to do anything to get it. If you filed your taxes in 2018 or 2019, the Internal Revenue Service likely already has the information it needs to send it to you. The same goes for those who get Social Security. In the coming weeks, the IRS will be creating an online form if you need to set up a direct deposit. Never respond to any calls, texts or emails claiming you need to sign up. For official updates, the Federal Trade Commission provides this special information pageStory reported by WINK News.


Vectra Digital has numerous full-time positions open. “We know this an incredibly difficult time to find a job, so we want people to know we are hiring for the long-term,” says Albert Arguelles, president of Vectra Digital. “We would like to be a bright spot in this challenging economic time. Let’s work together.” The Fort Myers-based company is hiring experienced copywriters, website project managers, and others with a marketing agency background. Applications are being accepted at vectradigital.com.    



The Real Estate Investment Society (REIS) has published the latest edition of its REIS REPORT, with news for Southwest Florida’s commercial and investment real estate community. Topics include legislative action, coronavirus business resources, water of the U.S. rules, boardroom reports and more. To view the report, click here.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, McCarthy Air Conditioning is installing air purification systems in existing residential and commercial AC systems. The patented technology produces a refined electrical charge to proactively and safely clean the air, according to a press release. Proven through independent lab testing, the air purifier significantly reduces a wide variety of pathogens and viruses similar to coronavirus in the breathing zone and on hard, non-porous surfaces. Easily installed into an existing AC system, this purifier transforms a current system into a whole home/office purifier. McCarthy AC technicians will arrive with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves and shoe covers as extra precaution to protect customers, families and the community from the spread of the coronavirus. McCarthy Air Conditioning serves the entire Southwest Florida area and is licensed, bonded and insured. McCarthy Air Conditioning is family-owned and operated with over 40-years of experience and is available 24/7 for emergency service. Special discounts are available to nonprofits. For more information, call (239) 834-5072 or email mccarthyhomeservice@gmail.com.

Habitat for Humanity donates PPE to Lee Health: Gilbert Menina, Robert Simmons, Yaris Morffi, (front) Carlos Perez


Habitat for Humanity donates PPE to Lee Health

Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties donated 375 hazmat suits, 120 pieces of eyewear, and 40 boxes of medical-grade disposable gloves to Lee Health. Habitat construction staff members organized a donation of medical-grade protective gear to Lee Health. The contribution consisted of 375 hazmat suits, 120 pieces of eyewear, and 40 boxes of disposable gloves. As the number of COVID-19 patients continues to grow, Lee Health and our essential health care workers will need additional community support. If you are in possession of disinfecting wipes, eye protection, disposable gloves, hazmat suits, or N95 masks—please consider donating extra supplies to our local hospitals. Lee Health is also accepting online donations, which can be made securely at leehealthfoundation.org/donate.

Grace Place launches online family home-learning guide

Grace Place for Children and Families has launched an online Family Home-Learning Guide. The site offers activities and resources to support parents as their child’s teacher and to provide fun interactive learning activities to help families continue their education during this trying time. Weekly lessons will be available for all ages, including parent and adult education activities, as well as exercises families can do together. The goal of the site is to ensure preschool children and families continue on their goal to becoming kindergarten ready as well as supporting the Collier County Public Schools with school-aged children and their families. In addition to the new home-learning site, the Grace Place food pantry will remain open on Saturdays from 10:30 am to 1 pm and Grace Place staff and volunteers are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of the families served. Learn more at graceplacenaples.org.

Vineyards Country Club to provide lunch for Physicians Regional Associates

Vineyards Country Club will provide lunch for approximately 150 associates of Physicians Regional Medical Center (Pine Ridge) at 11 a.m. today, as healthcare professionals work around the clock to care for southwest Floridians during the pandemic. For community organizations or other members of the public who might also wish to express their appreciation to healthcare workers, contact Vineyards Country Club at (239) 353-1500 for catering services.


Wise recognized among top financial advisors in U.S.

Ken Wise, managing partner of Touchstone Wealth Partners with UBS Financial Services Inc., has been recognized by Barron’s on its annual 2020 list of America’s Top 1,200Financial Advisors in the U.S. This is the fifth time that Wise has been named to the list, previously being recognized in 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015. 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. Accolades are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications. Neither UBS Financial Services Inc. nor its employees pay a fee in exchange for these ratings. Past performance is no guarantee of future results For more information, click here.

Melissa Torres-Silva

Torres-Silva appointed to Immokalee Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

Melissa Torres-Silva, director of annual giving at Guadalupe Center, has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Immokalee Chamber of Commerce. Torres-Silva was raised in Immokalee’s Farmworkers’ Village as the youngest of 12 children to migrant workers. She became the first member of her family to pursue a college degree. Torres-Silva has served in multiple roles for Guadalupe Center over 10 years, and as director of annual giving, she creates and executes a year-round fundraising plan that includes generous corporate partners, nonprofit organizations and individual donors. She also has established an annual fund committee and an outreach program that demonstrates the importance of philanthropic giving. Under her leadership, the annual fund has provided financial support to help fund three educational programs: Early Childhood Education, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment and Tutor Corps. 

Crystal Stouten

Lee BIA Builders Care welcomes Stouten as executive director

Crystal Stouten has been appointed executive director for Lee BIA Builders Care, the nonprofit charitable arm of the Lee Building Industry Association (BIA). In her role, Stouten will work with contractors and local businesses to secure in-kind services, as well as monetary and material donations, to help Lee BIA Builders Care carry out its mission to provide emergency construction services at no cost to needy and deserving elderly and/or disabled homeowners, and their families, who cannot obtain repairs through traditional means. The executive director also helps assemble teams of skilled volunteers to complete construction projects and lead fundraising events throughout the year. Stouten previously served as business development director and customer relations manager for Service Contracting Solutions. Stouten’s related experience also includes a position as membership director for the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association (CCCIA) and in purchasing and vendor relations for K. Hovnanian First Homes. Stouten is a member of committees including the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, Lee Building Industry Association, Associated Building & Contractors Association, Building Managers International and other community-based organizations. To date, Lee BIA Builders Care has helped more than 425 Lee County families and has provided over $4.75 million in construction services and materials at no cost to the families in need.


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