Gulfshore Business Daily: December 19

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The first-ever World Pickleball Championship in the history of the sport will take place Dec. 27– 30 at the brand new PicklePlex of Punta Gorda on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College. Professional players will vie for their share of the $100,000 prize purse while amateurs will compete in their age and skill categories over this four-day event. Players from across the globe have been invited to compete for the title of World Pickleball Champion. Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., with over three million players participating, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. The tournament will offer the largest cash purse in history to the professional and senior professional players. Sixty projected World Champions will reign at the end of the event from all categories and divisions. The Pickleball Global World Championship will be the PicklePlex’s largest tournament to date, as it’s expected to draw in an estimated 500 participants. For more information, visit or contact Pickleball Global at (239) 301-2141 or



Press operations at the Naples Daily News will relocate to Sarasota in mid-February, the Naples Daily News reports. This move will eliminate 49 full- and part-time jobs. The North Naples presses print publications including The News-Press, The Banner, Marco Eagle and Collier Citizen. Sarasota has more and larger printing equipment, which reportedly aided in the decision to move. New Media Investment Group (Sarasota Herald-Tribune), and USA TODAY’s parent company Gannett, (Naples Daily News and The News-Press), merged in November in a deal valued at more than $1 billion—creating the largest news organization in the nation, the Naples Daily News states. The merger is expected to save an estimated $300 million a year, with a majority of savings coming from departments other than editorial.



The Greater Naples Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation will host the second annual Naples Children’s Business Fair for young entrepreneurs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 11 at Gulf Coast High School. The fair is held in partnership with Collier County Public Schools and presented by Barron Collier Cos. The Naples Children’s Business Fair provides an opportunity for students, ages 6-17, to experience entrepreneurship firsthand and sell their original products and services to the public. Community members are invited to attend this family-friendly festival, grab lunch and shop youth-run businesses. Attendees will have the chance to vote for the “most original business idea,” “highest business potential” and “best presentation/creativity.” Judges will present awards in five age groups and one student business will win the “Sunshine Award,” which provides the student business the opportunity to display and sell their product or service in a local Sunshine Ace Hardware store. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash to shop the businesses. There is a suggested donation of $5 for general attendee admission. Donations from the fair benefit the Leadership Collier Foundation to support youth development and work-based learning programs. For questions and sponsorship opportunities, contact Nikkie Dvorchak at or (239) 403-2909.


Chefs Benjamin Voisin and Fabrice Deletrain along with new chef de cuisine John Hill


John Hill has been hired as the new chef de cuisine for Hospitality Group Holdings, which owns Gather inside Tarpon Point Marina, Fathoms Restaurant and Bar and The French Press in Cape Harbour, and Black Salt catering. Hill will mostly oversee the menu at Gather. Hill most recently served as chef de cuisine at Down the Bayou restaurant in New Orleans. While there, Hill raked in culinary accolades, including “Best of Show” categories in back-to-back years at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience. This year, he won “Best of Show: Savory” for his crawfish and dumplings dish. He also was chef de cuisine at another New Orleans restaurant, Salon by Sucré. Hill was an apprentice for an area butcher at the age of 12 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the international culinary school at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh after a career in the military. He helped create dishes for the school’s culinary Olympic team and worked with students in a horticultural culinary program at the Barack Obama Academy of International Studies in Pittsburgh.


Dr. Cyndi Yag-Howard


Naples dermatologist Dr. Cyndi Yag-Howard of Yag-Howard Dermatology and Aesthetic Center recently joined 200 participants from 36 states at the AADA Legislative Conference held in Washington, D.C. Yag-Howard has over 20 years of experience in the field of dermatology and aesthetics. The annual conference focuses on the legislative, political and regulatory issues that affect the field of dermatology. Attendees include physicians, patient advocates, patients, dermatology nurses and practice administrators. Conference attendees traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with 157 House of Representatives offices and 71 senate offices to talk about various issues of concern, including rising pharmaceutical costs, skin cancer prevention, Medicare issues and more. Those who were not able to attend in person were able to attend virtually from all over the country.


Stabilized Steps Stability Gliders


Stabilized Steps was a winner of the Florida Regional Round of SoGal’s global pitch competition and secured a slot to attend SoGal’s final global pitch competition and boot camp in Silicon Valley in February 2020. The SoGal Foundation is the largest global platform for the education and empowerment of diverse entrepreneurs and investors with 40 chapters around the globe. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and investing. Its Florida Regional Round was held on Oct. 28 at Collier’s Reserve in North Naples. The Florida Regional Round was one of 25 competitions hosted worldwide in 2019 by SoGal. The finalists selected from more than 1,500 startup applications will now advance to Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with top Bay Area investors, an immersive educational boot camp, and a chance to win a portion of $600,000 in investment capital. Based in Naples, Stabilized Steps is the creator of a patented attachment onto traditional walkers that led to the creation of the Stabilizer, which helps stability and fall prevention.



The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools to name five Suncoast Credit Union scholars in 2020 

The Suncoast Schools Credit Union Foundation is partnering with The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools to offer five $2,000 scholarship awards to high school graduates in the Class of 2020. Class of 2020 high school graduates in Suncoast Credit Union’s 21-county service territory may apply for financial support to continue their education, thanks to a $116,000 investment in scholarships by the Tampa-based credit union’s foundation. Applications opened on Dec. 14 and are available until March 28. To apply, visit Since its inception in 1990, the foundation has contributed more than $25 million including more than 600 student scholarships valued at nearly $1 million. 


Inaugural golf tournament raises $111,625 for KOVA Foundation

KOVA Foundation has raised $111,625 through its inaugural Mercedes-Benz Dealer Championships golf tournament. Presented by Mercedes-Benz of Bonita Springs, the tournament was held Oct. 21 at Talis Park Golf Club in Naples, featuring lunch and a round of golf on the 18-hole, 7,000-yard course at Talis Park, followed by a dinner, auction and awards reception. Proceeds from the event support KOVA Foundation, which is dedicated to providing resources to area nonprofits that support individuals and families in need, furthering initiatives related to health, including addiction recovery, Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer. For additional information, please visit


Vi at Bentley Village Golf-A-Thon raises record donations for Harry Chapin Food Bank

Residents of Vi at Bentley Village generated a record amount of donations through an annual golf-a-thon and food/fund drive. This year, the community gave 1,242 pounds of non-perishable food items and $2,500 to The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Head PGA Golf Pro Stan Geer and Community Relations Manager Pam Fultz on Dec. 9 completed 300 holes of golf to raise money and generate food donations for the organization. During the golf-a-thon, Geer attained a hole-in-one on Hole No. 13. Dozens of residents of Vi at Bentley Village not only met to cheer them on during a breakfast launch party, but also followed along on their golf carts to lend support on the links and celebrated with them at a victory party.


Naples business pioneer donates $2 million to university’s leadership institute

Gerald P. Buccino of Naples and Evanston, Illinois, has made a $2 million gift commitment to further advance New Jersey-based Seton Hall University‘s Buccino Leadership Institute. Launched in 2018, the Institute is the first interdisciplinary undergraduate leadership program of its kind in the U.S. The gift will support operations and create an endowment for the Institute. Buccino is the founder of Buccino & Associates and the president of The Buccino Foundation as well as a Seton Hall Regent Emeritus. He is a founding member of the Turnaround Management Association (TMA). Headquartered in Chicago. TMA is the only international nonprofit association dedicated to corporate renewal and turnaround management. Buccino has held several posts in the organization, including TMA’s national chairman. He currently serves on the Past Chairman’s Council and the Cornerstone 15 Council. Buccino also has 50 years of board service for business and not-for-profit organizations. He received an accounting undergraduate in the Stillman School of Business and holds an MBA and a Ph.D.


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