Gulfshore Business Daily: August 10, 2018

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The 24th Annual Southwest Florida Blue Chip Community Business Award application deadline is Sept. 4. Coordinated and sponsored by McGriff Insurance Services and BB&T Bank, the Blue Chip Community Business Award recognizes successful, small businesses in Lee, Collier, or Charlotte County that have overcome adversity to achieve success. Independent judges will pick the honoree once all applications have been collected. Businesses can nominate themselves or be nominated by a third party. To qualify, the for-profit business must have been in operation for at least three years under the same ownership with its principal office located in Lee, Collier or Charlotte County; employ five to 400 people; and have overcome adversity to achieve success. The award ceremony will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 1 at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. To submit an application, contact Stacey Mercado at (239) 433-7189 or


The Women’s Foundation of Collier County (WFCC) is now accepting nominations for the 2019 Women of Initiative. Each spring, the Women’s Foundation of Collier County has honored 10 women leaders who, through their leadership styles, are an inspiration to all women seeking to make a difference through philanthropy and civic engagement. Two-hundred women have been honored since 1998. To be eligible, candidates must be an active volunteer in Collier County, have held various leadership roles with nonprofit organization(s) in Collier County, made meaningful contributions through volunteerism and participation outside of their current and/or past employment and more. Board members and staff of the Community Foundation of Collier County, as well as the WFCC board of directors, are not eligible.  Volunteer service to a political campaign or candidate and paid executive directors of nonprofit agencies will not be considered. For the nomination form and instructions, visit here. Completed applications must be received online as indicated on the nomination form or delivered to the Community Foundation of Collier County by 5 p.m. on Oct. 1.


Berkadia has arranged $38.209 million in acquisition financing for The Fountains at Forestwood, a 397-unit multifamily community in Fort Myers. Senior managing director Mitch Sinberg, associate director Matt Robbins, and director of operations Jared Hill of Berkadia’s South Florida office secured the loan on behalf of an affiliate of Lloyd Jones Capital, a multifamily real estate investment firm based in Miami. The property traded for $55 million, or approximately $138,000 per unit. Freddie Mac originated the 10-year, fixed-rate loan through its “Green Up” program, which provides financing incentives for borrowers committed to green improvements including reduction in water consumption by 25 percent. 


The Community Foundation of Collier County has added four new members to the board of trustees.  Dr. Jorge Camina, John M. Costigan, R. Robert Funderburg, and Brad A. Galbraith joined the board for a three-year term on July 1. Former board members Brian V. McAvoy and Mario Valle became trustees emeriti. The foundation’s 21-member board of trustees stewards its strategic grantmaking and special initiatives as well as the growth of its philanthropic assets to benefit Collier County. For more information, visit


The Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals will host its CEO Panel, themed “Startup Success Stories,” from 5-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 at the Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center. The panel will feature Reema Bhatia, co-founder of Stickboy Creative, managing partner of Vectra Digital and chief technology officer of Jet’s Pizza; Rochelle Graham-Campbell, co-founder and CEO of Alikay Naturals; and Blake Gratton, owner and innovator of JellyTank. The evening will feature a cocktail networking reception prior to the panel. Attendees will be able to submit questions during the event and will hear stories from the panelists about launching their businesses and overcoming obstacles. Tickets can be purchased by calling (239) 992-2943 or visiting


Vi at Bentley Village, along with all of Vi’s communities and the company’s corporate office, have been certified as Great Places to Work by Great Places to Work U.S. Vi is among only three retirement community operators to have every one of their locations achieve certification in 2018. Great Place to Work certifications are based solely on employee feedback gathered via Great Place to Work’s annual survey, which is distributed in April. The results reflect responses to the two-part, 60-question survey, which focuses on employees’ trust of their employer and opinions of their programs and practices. Vi’s award-winning training and development programs provide employees career resources such as tuition reimbursement, a 24-hour online university, and free Rosetta Stone language training. Vi also provides employee development opportunities, benefit programs, and a family-like work environment, according to a press release. For career opportunities, visit


David Lawrence Center (DLC) has added new leaders and members to its Young Executives board of directors. The Young Executives are a group of professionals charged with bringing the center’s mission and message to a younger generation through advocacy, awareness, and fundraising. The new officers are Priscylla Oliva, Barron Collier Cos., chair; Joseph Stusek, Cummings & Lockwood LLC, vice chair; Peter Michaels, Halstatt Real Estate Partners, secretary/treasurer; Allison Durian, Naples Winter Wine Festival, immediate past chair. Additional board members include Casey Andress, Georgina Anton, Tyler McMackin, Courtney Smuder, and staff advisor Emily Budd.


Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt P.A. attorney Michael Lehnert has been named chair of the Lee County Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS). Lehnert was a Big Brother for about two years and joined the Lee County BBBS board in 2015. Lehnert concentrates his practice in the area of real estate law. More specifically, he assists property owners, lenders and builders with commercial and residential development, acquisitions, finance, survey matters, title insurance, and commercial leases. Lehnert also contributes to the firm’s Legal Scoop on Southwest Florida Real Estate blog. In addition to serving on the Lee County BBBS board, Lehnert serves as vice president of the Southwest Florida Real Estate Council. He is a member of the Real Estate Investment Society and the Young Lawyers Division of the Lee County Bar Association. Lehnert graduated from Bishop Verot High School, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, and his law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.


The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (C’mon) has welcomed John Shaw as the new exhibits manager. He comes to C’mon from the Center of Science & Industry, where previously served as director of experience production. In that role, he led project management and development of new permanent and temporary exhibits, events, renovations, and visitor-facing infrastructure projects. Shaw has Bachelor of Arts degrees in business management and Spanish from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and also studied international business and Spanish at the George Washington University Madrid Study Center at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain. He has served as an officer of the American Association of Museums Traveling Exhibits Professional Interest Committee and as a panel reviewer and field reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museums for America grant program. 


Girls on the Run expands with merger

The Girls on the Run of Collier County council has merged with the Girls on the Run of Southwest Florida council. The merger of these two nonprofit organizations has created a stronger council through the combination of resources and leadership. The group will expand the number of program sites from 24 in spring to at least 40 this fall, serving at least 432 students in the fall, according to a press release. Nearly 40 percent of those children will receive a full or partial scholarship to participate. The Girls on the Run curriculum is available as a volunteer-led, after-school program at elementary schools, middle schools and centers in Collier, Lee, Charlotte and DeSoto Counties. Fall enrollment for most sites will begin in August. For information, contact or visit

Neal Communities supports annual Big Backpack Event

Neal Communities has raised more than $18,000 to support the 19th annual Big Backpack Event, Lee County’s biggest back-to-school festival and school supply giveaway hosted by the Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 29, 26 volunteers from Neal Communities helped hand out more than 1,600 backpacks to support Lee, Collier and Charlotte Counties school children ages 5-12. This year, a line wrapped around North Fort Myers High School. For the third year, Neal Communities’ south region, which encompasses Lee and Collier Counties, chose to help fund the Big Backpack Event outreach program. During the past three years, Neal Communities has raised more than $52,000, with the help of a company donation and donations from trade partners, employees, homeowners, family and friends.

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