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Gulfshore Business Daily: April 8

Lead Photo: Better Together partners and employers lead a virtual job interview. Details below.


Video courtesy of WINK News


Gone are the days where someone would greet you and collect cash at the tollbooth. COVID-19 brought a new era of cashless tolls and Lee County wants it to stay that way. But the change could cost motorists an additional $2 every time they pass a tollbooth in Southwest Florida. The cashless system may become permanent, doubling prices for some drives. However, the county is offering a solution so people don’t end up with higher tolls. As long as you get a transponder, the toll to cross the Midpoint Bridge, the Cape Coral Bridge and the Sanibel Causeway would remain the same. Lee County plans to give away their Leeway transponder stickers for free, WINK News reports.


Video courtesy of WINK News


All adults aged 18 and older can now schedule appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, after four months of seniors being first in line. WINK News asked and more than 600 people responded: Are you rushing to get the shot or not? Many patients who are younger and now eligible want a shot, however, they aren’t in a hurry to get it, according to a WINK News survey this week. Of the 18- to 24-year-olds who plan to get a shot, they simply aren’t trying right now, WINK News reports.



Fifth Third Bank, National Association, announced it has exceeded the financial goal of the five-year Community Commitment it made in 2016. Fifth Third has delivered $41.6 billion in lending and investments, 130% of the $32 billion target it announced with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, together with more than 145 community signatories throughout its footprint. The Community Commitment was announced in early 2016 as a $27.5 billion plan over five years. Later that year, it was increased to $30 billion upon consultation with hundreds of community groups and the NCRC. In 2018, the bank again expanded the commitment to $32 billion, in consideration of its planned expansion in Chicago through its acquisition of MB Financial Inc. The $32 billion pledge included mortgage lending, small business lending, and community development loans and investments. The bank also delivered $378 million in Fifth Third Impact Programming, surpassing its pledge to deliver $213.2 million in additional housing and small business technical assistance; financial empowerment programming; inclusion initiatives and supplier diversity; branches and staffing; and other programs and services. As part of its impact programming pledge, Fifth Third delivered $112.9 million in philanthropy. 



Seagate Development Group is set to break ground on a 45,000-square-foot facility for White Cap Construction Supply. The building will be located at 16542 Oriole Road in Fort Myers, adjacent to the upcoming Alico Trade Center. The national building materials supplier has signed a long-term lease with Seagate Development Group. Its 9.71-acre, one-story property will include office space, an open-area conference room and break room, and a showroom and sales center. Some of the biggest features for this facility are a 32,990-square-foot warehouse as well as an 18,000-square-foot steel fabrication building with an overhead crane and steel-bending machines. Slated to break ground in May, Seagate is expected to complete this project in the fourth quarter of 2021.



Dunkin’ is set to launch this weekend in the outparcel it shares with the new Sherwin-Williams store at the Bonita Beach Road entrance into Imperial Bonita Plaza, just east of Imperial Parkway, in Bonita Springs. On opening day, Saturday, April 10, the new Dunkin’ in Bonita will feature free medium hot or iced coffees all day, no purchase necessary. The new store serves iced beverages through a tap system and has a drive-thru pickup window in the back, said Michael Koroghlian, a resident of Naples who owns more than two dozen Dunkin’ franchise locations in southern Florida. “We plan to open another Cape Coral store later this summer,” Koroghlian said. “First, I am going to remodel the Dunkin’ in Golden Gate and then my other store in Bonita at 28155 S. Tamiami Trail.” Dunkin,’ 11671 Bonita Beach Road, will be open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. A grand opening celebration also is planned for May 1 with more special offers and entertainment.



More than 50 guests attended the Naples Green Village official grand opening of the newly remodeled assisted living and memory care facility in North Naples. For the March 30 event, the facility’s side garden trees were decked with thousands of lights. The event also featured live music, drinks, and food from Chef Tony Topollaj. The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce was also present to help with the official ribbon cutting. Naples Green Village was purchased at the end of 2018 and has been transformed into an assisted living and memory care showcase for the owners.  The new owners of the facility, RAM Capital Management of Coral Gables, are dedicated to the Green Village brand which has evolved into a holistic care philosophy greatly emphasizing daily exposure to pleasant and stimulating outdoor environments. The facility has five park-like areas.



For its second consecutive year, Better Together is hosting its Nationwide Day of Second Chances held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 29 at Turning Point Church in Bonita Springs and Rise Christian Church in Lehigh Acres. Every year, more than 650,000 Americans are released from prison and faced with challenges for re-entering the workforce. Better Together created a Day of Second Chances to help people overcome barriers to employment, such as incarceration, by bringing churches, volunteers, businesses and nonprofits together to host job fairs across America. Hosted by church partners and job coaches nationwide, the Second Chance Job Fair will feature employers around the country who are prepared to interview job seekers. Additionally, Better Together and church partners will offer free workshops as well as one-on-one job mentoring sessions. Trained volunteer coaches will review resumes and public speaking skills in preparation for job interviews. To date, Better Together has helped more than 32,000 job seekers connect with employment opportunities through church-based job fairs across 20 states. As a result, two-thirds of job fair attendees get a job interview, and one out of four receive a job offer on the spot.



Studio+ has completed FineMark National Bank & Trust’s corporate headquarters located in Fort Myers. The 60,000 square-foot facility is located at the intersection of College Parkway and Winkler Road.  The firm set out to create an inspiring new headquarters for FineMark Bank and Trust that provides maximum flexibility for both current and future growth along with additional flex space for all departments. The three-story facility features a  clean, modern façade and large windows maximize views of the surrounding area. The bank office suites feature a large lobby with white oak wood and tile ascending to the 30-foot ceiling, pendant chandeliers, porcelain and mosaic tile, and custom furnishings. Additionally, Studio+ has been engaged to perform design work for tenant improvements on the second floor of the bank. Another Studio+ client, Lee Health, will occupy a portion of the second floor consisting of administrative office space, leaving additional tenant space vacant for other local Southwest Florida professional businesses. 



The Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP) is excited to host the 2021 Southwest Florida Climate Summit. This free virtual public event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on May 6. The Summit will feature experts with interactive audience question and answer sessions, to exchange ideas on expanding the region’s capacity to respond to climate challenges and to build climate resilience in the community. Presenters from Florida Gulf Coast Water School, Environmental Defense Fund, Florida Clinicians for Climate Action, CLEO Institute, Growing Climate Solutions and more will be sharing their expertise and answering questions from the audience. Additionally, there will be addresses from Florida’s Chief Resiliency Officer and Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Noah Valenstein and Sen. Marco Rubio. is free and required in advance. For registration and additional information, click here.


Laird A. Lile


Laird A. Lile, a board-certified wills, trusts and estates attorney in Naples, has been appointed to serve as the only practicing attorney on the Florida Supreme Court Florida Courts Technology Commission’s Workgroup on Assessing Legal Financial Obligations. The workgroup was established as a result of a report to the Florida Supreme Court by the Judicial Management Council’s Workgroup on Court Costs and Fines. Lile was appointed to both the Florida Courts Technology Commission and the Judicial Management Council by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court. The Workgroup on Assessing Legal Financial Obligations has been tasked by Chief Justice Charles Canady to work with the state’s elected clerks of court to develop an electronic system to assist in the assessment of legal financial obligations. Other members of the workgroup include judges, trial court administrators, clerks, chief technology officers, and clerk techs.


Dr. Sunil Pandya


Naples Senior Center has appointed Lucinda H. Stebbins and Dr. Sunil Pandya to its board of trustees. Stebbins is a retired financial consultant with nearly four decades of professional experience working with such financial services firms as Deutsche Asset Management, Zurich Scudder Investments and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Stebbins also brings many years of corporate board experience with Tekla Capital Management and Solstice Home Care Inc., a private family-owned home health care company in Massachusetts. Locally, Stebbins serves as a board member of The Pointe I homeowners association in Pelican Bay and formerly was an audit and budget committee member of the Pelican Bay Foundation. She retired as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Massachusetts and remains active as a member of the Florida Society of CPAs. Pandya is a physician executive with 20 years of clinical practice and 17 years of progressive management experience in the healthcare industry. He has held executive roles at the highest level. Currently, he is the owner and vice president for strategy and finance of Accountable Inpatient Medicine. He is also the associate medical director of Vitas Hospice and chief medical director of Sava Senior Care. He holds medical licenses to practice in Florida and four other U.S. states.


David Ariza


Diamond Custom Homes has added David Ariza to the team as a construction superintendent. Ariza has nearly 10 years of construction industry experience with leading custom and production home builders throughout Southwest Florida. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, he has a master’s degree in contract law from Rosario University in Bogotá, as well as a master’s degree in criminal law from Hodges University in Naples. For the last eight years, Ariza has worked with the nonprofit Southwest Florida Safety Council, teaching drivers’ education courses to help DUI perpetrators re-establish driving privileges.


Alex Malave


Pushing the Envelope Inc., a strategic marketing communication firm based in Fort Myers, welcomes Alex Malave as its digital marketing assistant. In his role, Malave is responsible for assisting in the development of social media strategies, as well as the production of social media content, email marketing efforts, and inbound internet marketing. He works directly with the digital marketing specialist and other team members to execute successful digital initiatives. Malave holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and integrated business from the University of Central Florida. He brings more than three years of digital marketing experience and has ample experience in pay-per-click and optimizing social media campaigns.




Local State Farm agents volunteering at a pre-pandemic build site.

Habitat homebuyer education funded by State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant

State Farm has awarded Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties with $5,000 as part of the Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant program. With this grant, Habitat will have the means to fund and grow its 2021 Homebuyer Education program, which empowers families with the knowledge and resources needed to successfully maintain and manage their homes post-purchase. Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties is offering virtual homebuyer education classes. Local State Farm agents offer further support by donating their time as guest presenters during these virtual homeownership education classes. Participation in the Homebuyer Education program is one of the major requirements for purchasing an affordable home through Habitat.


Gary Tasman, Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Property Southwest Florida, presents a check for $2,500 to Margo Brewster, Pace Center for Girls – Lee.

Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Property Southwest Florida donates to Pace Center for Girls – Lee

Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Property Southwest Florida has made a $2,500 donation to Pace Center for Girls – Lee. The donation is being utilized to provide leadership training to the school’s staff and leadership education to students. In 2020, Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Property Southwest Florida contributed more than $45,000 to local and regional nonprofit organizations. Because of its commitment to the Southwest Florida community, the brokerage is a finalist for Community Steward of the Year at the Industry Appreciation Awards, presented by the Lee County Economic Development office, Horizon Council and Horizon Foundation. The 2021 Industry Appreciation Awards winners will be announced on Oct. 22 at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center in Fort Myers.

Boys & Girls Club of Collier County seeks 500 summer camp sponsors

The Boys & Girls Club of Collier County is looking for sponsors for its 2021 summer camp program. Through the “Sponsor a Camper” initiative, supporters can make a single, tax-deductible donation of $500 to ensure a family will not have to pay the full cost of summer camp programming. The Boys & Girls Club’s summer camp program provides a safe and supportive environment for school-aged children to learn, play and discover their passions. Programming is also aimed at mitigating the “summer slide,” a term referencing the loss of academic knowledge and skills that occurs when students are out of the classroom. Camp programming includes academic enrichment, STEM, physical fitness and creative arts activities. Each week the club is offering an engaging theme. This will be coupled with fun-themed days where campers can wear their favorite sports jersey, pajama days and dress as their favorite career day. A nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack are provided daily for every camper. The “Sponsor a Camper” initiative is not limited to the single $500 donation. Individuals, businesses and philanthropic organizations can sponsor multiple youths. The Club hopes to sponsor 500 campers this summer.


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