Gulfshore Business Daily: April 9

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With so many unknowns on the horizon, we are all asking ourselves some tough business questions, especially with regards to marketing during these sensitive times. Gulfshore Life Media has asked nationally known marketing expert Ryan Dohrn to share 10 marketing survival strategies to help you not only survive COVID-19 but potentially thrive when this crisis subsides. This webinar is offered at no cost, as Gulfshore Life Media’s gift to its business partners. Can’t make it live? No problem. Sign up for free here and we will send a link to watch the replay. Dohrn is an Emmy-winning, best-selling business book author recognized by with the “Best of the Best” award for his business strategies. Dohrn’s focus is marketing, sales, leadership and team performance. His passion for sales and marketing has allowed him to touch half a billion dollars in revenue for companies in seven countries. He has held leadership roles at the Walt Disney Co. and is an internationally certified business coach. Dohrn has trained over 20,000 professionals and works monthly with companies in 15 business sectors.

Video courtesy of WINK News


After weeks of dead-ends for people trying to file for unemployment in Florida, the state announced major improvements with the system. The state has hired hundreds of people to help field calls and 72 servers were added to handle increased traffic for people filing for unemployment online. Applicants, however, are reporting that not much has improved. Many who haven’t been able to apply are asking whether they will see retroactive benefits to include the weeks it has taken for applications to go through because of website issues. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to look into that. The DEO says 10 more servers will be installed this week to help improve the online filing system. Paper applications are now available for those who want to send their paperwork by mail, and FedEx is offering to print those applications and ship them for free. Story reported by WINK News.


Hundreds of Lee County residents are joining their neighbors to “Take the Pledge,” a social media campaign to encourage residents to #stayhomeSWFL and employ best practices to stop the spread of COVID-19. Lee County Government launched the campaign and enlisted the partnership of the Florida Department of Health-Lee County, Lee Health, the School District of Lee County, The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties. By joining Lee County to Take the Pledge, residents promise to stay home as much as possible, social distance when it is necessary to leave home, practice proper hand-washing techniques, not to gather in groups of more than 10, and stay calm, stay kind, and stay safe. To Take the Pledge, go to

Video courtesy of WINK News


A new study from Oxford Economics reports that Florida is one of the most vulnerable states when it comes to its economic structure, ranking the Sunshine State fourth behind only Maine, Nevada and Vermont. “Tourism, travel is a huge piece of that. Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with it are the number of retirees that we attract to the area,” said Dr. Shelton Weeks, chairman of the department of economics and finance at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). Florida’s feeling COVID-19’s impact, but the road to recovery isn’t set in stone. “The question, at least in my mind, is how do we come out of the recovery? Do we see sort of a bounce from people just wanting to get away? Also, what is the impact that the most recent stimulus legislation is going to have?” said Dr. Tom Smythe, professor of finance at FGCU. Story reported by WINK News.

Video courtesy of WINK News


The coronavirus is impacting airports nationwide and Southwest Florida International is no exception. Typically, during this time of year, you would see a lot of traffic at RSW, but due to COVID-19, many people aren’t flying. “Our traffic is down probably in the 90 to 95 percent range. That’s just an enormous decline,” said Ben Siegel, executive director of the Lee County Port Authority, which operates the regional airports. The problem? Those passengers help pay for future projects like the airport’s terminal expansion project, designed to give the airport a new look and add more security lines for faster entry. For now, major projects at the airport will be grounded. At Siegel’s recommendation Tuesday, Lee County commissioners delayed the terminal expansion project for a year. Story reported by WINK News.

Photo courtesy of WINK News


Southwest Florida officials are taking advantage of diminished traffic on area roads from people staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak. Lee County Commission Chairman Brian Hamman says typically this time of year they try to avoid road work, but with so few cars out on the road, they may reconsider. “This is a good time to start looking at what projects we could potentially speed up,” Hamman said. “They would have to be projects that are ready to build that we were going to start in a couple of weeks anyway.” The one guaranteed project in the area being sped up by four weeks is along Collier Boulevard in Collier County. The project to pave, widen and upgrade signals on that stretch is one of many infrastructure projects Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing forward. Story by WINK News.

Charitable Notes

‘Siri’ voices support for The Immokalee Foundation

Susan C. Bennett, the female American voice of Apple’s “Siri” since the service was introduced on the iPhone 4S on Oct. 4, 2011, recorded a video to call attention to the critical needs of the nation’s non-profit community–specifically, The Immokalee Foundation. Using technology, the foundation has remained “virtually open” and continues to support its Immokalee-based students. With the support of mentors, donors, and volunteers, The Immokalee Foundation provides students the resources and the confidence to follow pathways to success. The foundation does this by providing educational and career-building opportunities that open the students’ eyes to their personal potential, along with the understanding that what they once considered impossible just might be possible after all. Bennett’s video is here. (Bennett was the voice of Apple’s virtual assistant until the iOS 7 update was released on Sept. 18, 2013.) Inside Edition’s Lisa Guerrero recently recorded a video in support of the Foundation, as well.

The Fort Myers women’s boutique was founded by Jennifer Williams in 1983.

Jennifer’s Boutique collecting restaurant gift cards for frontline health care workers

Jennifer’s women’s boutique is collecting restaurant gift cards to give to front line health care workers. The cards will be donated to Lee Health for distribution to their employees. The goal of the initiative is to recognize and applaud all the health care individuals in the area who are tirelessly caring for those in need. It is also an effort to support local restaurants that are losing business due to the COVID shutdown. Gift cards can be in any denomination. As a thank you, donors will receive a Jennifer’s reward certificate in the amount of the card denomination plus an additional 25%. The Jennifer’s certificate can be used for virtual shopping now or in the store when it reopens. Gift cards can be mailed to Jennifer’s, 13251-3 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers.  E-certificates can be emailed to  Donors should include their name and email address. Jennifer’s boutique is currently closed but shoppers can contact Jennifer to shop over the phone or FaceTime at (239) 849-1833.  Shoppers can also email Jennifer’s at  Jennifer’s can create a personal box for curbside pickup or delivery.


2020 APEX Awards nomination deadline extended

The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business committee is seeking nominations for its 2020 APEX Awards, an annual awards event that recognizes outstanding women in the Greater Fort Myers community who excel in the areas of professionalism, philanthropy and leadership. The nomination deadline has been extended through May 1. The community is invited to submit nominations online here. Nominees must be current members of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. Five finalists will be announced in June, and the finalists will go on to be recognized during a gala dinner, where one will be named the recipient of this year’s APEX Award. Presented by Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, the 15th annual APEX Awards dinner will be held on Aug. 28 at The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in Cape Coral. Tickets are $150 each, available for purchase at

Video courtesy of WINK News

Cape Coral family business flips from custom upholstery to making masks

Medical masks are critical in the fight against the coronavirus, but they are also hard to find. One Cape Coral couple is working to make sure there are enough to go around by temporarily converting their custom upholstery and drapery business to making masks. “Everybody is scared, and so if we can just do something for the community and try to help, whatever we can do,” said Leslie Tarasyuk, the owner of Cape Coral Custom Upholstery and Drapery. COVID-19 closed her business until further notice, but she still goes in every day to make as many washable masks as possible with the help of family and one employee donating his time. They started just making a few masks for themselves and family members, but now they have multiple orders waiting for them. Story reported by WINK News.

Video courtesy of WINK News

Local bicycle businesses thriving amid coronavirus pandemic

Area businesses selling bicycles are finding new customers because so many people stuck at home are looking for ways to get off the couch to exercise. “We are not usually this busy during March,” said Mike Holm, who reports sales at Fort Myers Cyclery are up 30 percent. “We didn’t expect it. It was shocking.” Across town, Pedego Fort Myers also is doing what it can to keep up with the sudden surge in demand for bicycles. “The weather is spectacular, and it’s just a great activity that you can do for a couple of hours,” said Lisa Badolato, owner of Pedego electric bikes. Despite the governor’s safer-at-home order, outdoor exercise is encouraged as social distancing is practiced. Story reported by WINK News.

Norman Love Confections to launch 2020 Mother’s Day Collection

Norman Love Confections is introducing its limited-edition 2020 Mother’s Day Collection featuring 10 rich ganache-filled eggs in white, dark and milk chocolate. The 2020 Mother’s Day Collection is offered from April 27-May 9 at Norman Love Confections’ chocolate salons in Fort Myers and Naples, as well as 24/7 online at In addition, new curbside pickup is offered at retail locations or local delivery is available in Southwest Florida. To order, call (239) 561-7215.

RE/MAX Realty Group recognizes top March producers

RE/MAX Realty Group recognizes its top producers for the month of March. Top Listings Residential Producers are Mona Burke and Debbie Novickoff; Top Sales Residential Producer is Jeannie Steidel; Top Sales Residential Team is The Cole Team; Top Sales Commercial Producer is Vedran Vicevic; Top Sales Commercial Producer Team is Bauman and Associates. In addition, RE/MAX Realty Group congratulates the following agents for reaching new club levels for the month of March. Executive Club Members are Anne Butcher, Scott Friedman, Jason Lipsher, Mike McNamara, and Lisa Petruska; 100% Club Members are Hal Arkin, Brenda Cole, Chris Horvath, Ernie Horvath, and Jeannie Steidel. RE/MAX Realty Group has also added Abby Kesslak to its commercial division. 

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