Gulfshore Business Daily: December 17

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Lead Photo: Seagate Development Group is breaking ground on the final phase of EmCyte Corp.’s headquarters. Details below.
 
 

NCH BUYS NAPLES DAILY NEWS HEADQUARTERS IN NORTH NAPLES

Naples-based NCH Healthcare System now owns the multimillion-dollar Immokalee Road building and property that have been home to the Naples Daily News headquarters since 2009. The sale closed Tuesday afternoon for $27,985,000, said Andrew Saluan of Naples-based AJS Realty Group, which represented NCH in the real estate transaction. The closing price is significantly less than the construction costs 11 years ago for the more than 186,000-square-foot building on about 20 acres. Plans call for the relocation of several NCH administrative support functions, such as accounting, billing, IT, business office, supply chain, system warehousing and other departments to move from the NCH Central Campus at 2157 Pine Ridge Road to the newly acquired building, which is a couple of blocks west of the NCH North Naples Hospital campus. Additionally, NCH human resources, marketing and some other non-clinical support services that are located on NCH’s two hospital campuses also will relocate to the new property. The move is expected to be completed early next spring, NCH reports. For the full story, visit GulfshoreBusiness.com.
 

ALDI GROCERY STORE LAUNCHES TODAY IN ESTERO

Today is the long-awaited grand opening of the Aldi grocery store in Estero. The village’s first store for the discount grocer opens at 9 a.m. at 19951 S. Tamiami Trail, just north of Walmart at Estero Parkway. The new 22,000-square-foot store will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. To “rent” a grocery cart you’ll need a quarter, which is returned when you return the cart. You’ll also have to bring or buy grocery bags because the chain does not supply bags or baggers. Complimentary boxes are available, though.
 

MORGAN AUTOMOTIVE GROUP ACQUIRES O’BRIEN DEALERSHIPS

The Morgan Automotive Group, one of the largest privately-held automotive groups in the nation, is growing with their acquisition of the O’Brien Automotive Team Fort Myers stores and subsequent expansion into Southwest Florida. The O’Brien Automotive Team has been selling cars and trucks for more than 46 years, with 10 different manufacturers located in six cities in four states. O’Brien Automotive Team Fort Myers locations have been serving drivers in Southwest Florida for more than 22 years. For more details, visit ObrienEasy.com.
 

Credit: WINK News

FLORIDA EXTENDS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR ELIGIBLE CLAIMANTS

Some additional help exists from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to assist certain people who have been getting unemployment benefits. If you’ve used all of your pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PUEC) benefits, you might qualify for six more weeks of aid. The state will notify you if you qualify because there are a lot of conditions that will be different for each person’s situation, WINK News reports.
 
 

LEE COMMISSIONERS ACCEPT $2.67 FEDERAL GRANT FOR HOMELESS PREVENTION AND REHOUSING

Lee County commissioners voted Tuesday to accept a $2.67 million federal grant for homeless-prevention programs – including some foreclosure and eviction prevention programs – amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant is funded by the CARES Act through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant will increase the capacity of existing homeless prevention programs administered through Lee County Human & Veteran Services. That grant is in addition to the $134.4 million in federal dollars allocated to Lee County from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). For more information, go to leegov.com/dhs.
 
 

7-ELEVEN INITIATES REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN NAPLES AREA

A nearly 35-year-old gas station in North Naples has closed ahead of a renovation project that will convert the longtime Mobil station into a 7-Eleven convenience store and station. The fenced-off gas station and car wash are slated for demolition soon in Bed Bath & Beyond Plaza on the northwest corner of Airport-Pulling and Pine Ridge roads. Dallas-based 7-Eleven also recently demolished its Berkshire Commons location on Santa Barbara Boulevard in East Naples and is building a new, larger convenience store and gas station.
 

 

Video courtesy WINK News

FGCU’S WATER SCHOOL AND MOTE MARINE LAB STUDY DECOMPOSING FISH

An experiment into the effects of dead fish on red tide shows that fish carcasses could be supplying nutrients to algal blooms that could make the environmental threats worse. Researchers at The Water School at FGCU and the Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota have received funding to study how dead fish affect red tide, which plagued Southwest Florida beaches in 2018. A red tide bloom was just reported this week at Lighthouse Beach Park on Sanibel, prompting the Florida Department of Health in Lee County to issue a health alert. The local experiments could give dead fish a new purpose. The fish used in the composting portion of the study could show researchers what can be done with fish killed by red tide. The next step is for researchers to determine if the toxin in the fish breaks down, WINK News reports.
 
 

Video courtesy WINK News

SWFL BURGER JOINT STEPS UP TO HELP STRUGGLING CALIFORNIA RESTAURANT

A Southwest Florida restaurateur is jumping in to help a fellow business owner thousands of miles away. Todd Brooks of Brooks Burgers saw a video of a restaurant owner in California go viral after her Pineapple Hill Saloon & Grill in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles got shut down for a second time because of the pandemic. For the rest of the year, Brooks Burgers locations in Collier County will have a special menu of some of the California restaurant’s bestselling items. Money from these sales will go to the California restaurateur, WINK News reports.
 
 

SEAGATE DEVELOPMENT GROUP TO EXPAND EMCYTE CORP. HEADQUARTERS

Seagate Development Group is breaking ground on the final phase of EmCyte Corp.’s headquarters, located at 4331 Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd. in Fort Myers. The $2.2-million project will include an additional 13,000 square feet of warehouse space and a 2,000-square-foot office facility. Crews will also renovate a 5,000-square-foot manufacturing area. Seagate will begin clearing the site for additional parking and travel lanes for deliveries. Additionally, an enclosed corridor will make for a covered pathway that connects the new and current facilities. Overall, this project involves moving the current warehouse to a new building and expanding the pre-existing manufacturing space. The new contract comes just three months after Seagate completed 30,000 square feet of EmCyte’s headquarters. The final phase is slated for completion in June 2021.
 
 

MEETINGS & EVENTS

 

Fifth Avenue South adds another ‘Evening on Fifth’

The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District (BID) has added another “Evening on Fifth” in downtown Naples with a holiday flair to take place from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Dec. 17. The free event will feature an array of live musical performances up and down the sidewalks along Fifth Avenue South. Restaurants and bars along the avenue will be offering specials on dining and drinks, and residents and guests will have an opportunity to explore the area’s distinct boutiques, shops and galleries. Evenings on Fifth continues every second Thursday of the month. For more information, call 239-692-8436 or visit FifthAvenueSouth.com.

 

IN THE KNOW

 

Winter break starts Saturday for Florida SouthWestern State College 

All Florida SouthWestern State College (FSW) campuses and centers will be closed for winter break from Saturday, Dec. 19, through Sunday, Jan. 3. All college locations will reopen Monday, Jan. 4.
 

       Christopher T. Spiro

Spiro & Associates executive appointed to Uncommon Friends Foundation Board

Christopher T. Spiro, chief creative officer at Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Brand Architecture, has been appointed to the Board of the Uncommon Friends Foundation. This comes after recommendations by seated members and the nonprofit’s executive director. The 30-plus-year industry veteran will join other leaders and community members in furthering character education and workplace ethics, specifically by rebranding and reenergizing the 501(c) (3) organization. This includes echoing the sentiments of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh as well as conducting business ethics roundtables, hosting awards programs, preserving archives and identifying regional scholarship recipients. Spiro will also offer a fresh perspective to pandemic-inspired challenges and adjust itineraries in real-time to align with today’s new normal. For more information, visit spiroandassociates.com.
 

Blessings in a Backpack SWFL adds to advisory board

Blessings in a Backpack SWFL has added community leaders to its advisory board and named a new chair. The 2021 Advisory Board for Blessings in a Backpack represents a mix of professional and philanthropic experiences coming together in an effort to feed the 60,000 local elementary school students who struggle to get the food they need over the weekend. The following advisory board members will help the organization carry out its mission through fundraising, event planning, community outreach and more. Connie Ramos-Williams, CONRIC PR & Marketing, chair of the Blessings in a Backpack Advisory Board; Carl Barraco Jr., Barraco and Associates Inc.; Danielle Beach, Alliance Financial Group; Guy Clark, Sizzle SWFL; LaRae DavenportAmerican Subcontractors Association – SWFL; Rafael Feliciano, Food Idea Group; Scott Fischer, Scott Fischer Enterprises; Rudi Hamer, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank; Lynne Kimmich, Alliance Financial Group; Travis Merrick, GFA International; Jim Parker, retired, Secret Service; Mike Price, LandQwest; Chris Rakos, Colonial Roofing; and Nathan Shaw, Premier Realty. 
 

Allison Buzick, Joey Belanger, Jane Martin.

Four leaders of The SKY Family YMCA recognized for work

Chapter 27 of the YMCA Professional Network for the State of Florida recognized four SKY leaders at The SKY Family YMCA. The leaders receiving recognition include Denita Browning, director of early learning; Jane Martin, association director of health innovations; Joey Belanger, regional executive director; and Allison Buzick, Venice executive director. Browning, Martin, Belanger, and Buzick were presented with awards on Dec. 8. “These four leaders played a large role in keeping our connection with the community during the shutdown,” says Gene T.  Jones, The SKY Family YMCA president and CEO. “They also played a key role in the success of our re-opening.” The award recognition ceremony can be viewed here.
 

CHARITABLE NOTES

 

Babcock Ranch Foundation supports Harry Chapin Food Bank

Babcock Ranch Foundation continues its mission of supporting, enhancing and implementing projects that positively impact many worthy causes in Southwest Florida with a $3,850 donation to Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. The donation is the result of the foundation’s match of ticket sale proceeds and donations at its booth at the Babcock Ranch Art Show in November. “Harry Chapin Food Bank has experienced an exponential increase in demand since the pandemic began,” said Syd Kitson, chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners. “The Babcock Ranch Foundation proudly supports their vision of ensuring no child, family or senior goes hungry in our community.” 
 
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