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Lead Photo: Billy signs his lease and receives the key to his new ROOF home in Immokalee. Details below.



A local survey from Gulfshore Business is gauging the community’s plans for holiday travel despite pandemic restrictions. Please take a moment to respond to our brief survey and look for the results in a future issue of Gulfshore Business Daily. To take the survey, click here.


Naples-based Arthrex, a global leader in minimally invasive orthopedic technology, has launched the SwiveLock ACL Repair Kit, following clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the SwiveLock anchor for ACL repair. It is the first and only FDA-cleared kit for the primary repair of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears. ACL primary repair with the SwiveLock ACL Repair Kit involves reattaching a torn ACL utilizing SwiveLock anchors and high-strength FiberWire and TigerWire sutures. The repair utilizes an InternalBrace ligament augmentation, which enables patients to return to activity more quickly while protecting the repaired ligament, according to Arthrex. The kit contains all the surgical products needed for the ACL repair technique. For more information, click here


Two Southwest Florida optometry practices, Fort Myers Eye Center and Valentine Eye Care, have partnered with Center For Sight, one of the nation’s leading multi-disciplinary physician groups. Center For Sight is a founding member practice of US Eye, a physician-led, patient-centric network. Fort Myers Eye Center and Valentine Eye Care will assume the local brand name, Center For Sight, bringing the total number of Center For Sight offices in Southwest Florida to 14. Over the next year, Fort Myers Eye Center and Valentine Eye Care will integrate their operations with the US Eye model. All existing patient appointments will proceed as scheduled and patients will continue to be seen by their established physician at their existing practice location. 

Video courtesy of WINK News


Christmas is the busiest time of the year for the U.S. Postal Service. Many mail carriers are running two routes a day to make sure all packages are delivered on time, often arriving to load up their trucks at 5 a.m. and not returning until 8 p.m. If you have waited until the last minute, you can ship next-day express on Dec. 23. You can also submit a request to have packages picked up from your doorstep, WINK News reports.

Video courtesy of WINK News


The city of Cape Coral has big plans for Pine Island Road, a heavily traveled artery that connects the city to Interstate 75 before ending on Pine Island. More than $300 million in projects on the thoroughfare will be coming online soon, said Cape Coral Economic Development Manager Ricardo Noguera. That includes two shopping plazas and a new hotel, a first for the northern part of Cape Coral. “It’s going to really support the northeastern part of town, especially the northern (part) where we do not have any hotels north of the south Cape,” Noguera says. About nine projects are slated to open on Pine Island Road in 2021. They include shopping spaces, restaurants, apartments, and an 80-bed rehab hospital, WINK News reports.


Executive Pastry Chef Sébastien Thieffine and his team worked a total of 600 hours to create a nearly life-size gingerbread house in the middle of the Seed to Table store in North Naples. Thieffine continues an annual tradition he started when he was the executive pastry chef for many years at The Ritz-Carlton resorts in Naples. This year’s candy cottage created by Thieffine and his chefs includes 40,000 pieces of candy, 800 gingerbread bricks, 350 gingerbread shingles, 600 pounds of all-purpose flour, 300 pounds of icing sugar, 240 pounds of honey, 240 pounds of sugar, 320 eggs, 56 pounds of milk and 36 pounds of ginger.


Naples Art is reopening its downtown Naples building at 585 Park Street on Jan. 2, 2021, following a period of extensive repairs and remodeling. A lineup of one- and two-day workshops, adult and youth classes, and special events are scheduled for the upcoming spring season in its renovated home just steps from Fifth Avenue. Classes starting Jan. 18 appeal incorporate a range of artistic interests. Visit NaplesArt.org for the complete schedule and to register for classes. 



Real Estate Investment Society luncheon to focus on NeoGenomics success

The emergence of Fort Myers-based NeoGenomics as a leading international research and medical services company will be presented at the Real Estate Investment Society’s (REIS) luncheon meeting at 11:45 a.m. on Jan. 12 in the Osprey Room at Pelican Preserve’s Clubhouse. Helen Edenfield, global director of operations excellence at NeoGenomics, will discuss the firm’s scope of activities and outlook for future expansion. Admission is $30 for members and $40 for guests, which includes lunch. Reservations are required by Jan. 7 and may be made at reis-swfl.org. The program will also be provided as a live webcast at 12:10 p.m. that day at no charge.  Access information is on the REIS website.



Megan Simon

SWFL Inc. welcomes Simon to the team as client relationship manager

SWFL Inc. has hired Megan Simon as its new client relationship manager. Simon comes to the now seven-person staff with a background in hospitality and sales. Simon has held positions in hotel group sales for Naples Grande Beach Resort, Naples Beach Hotel, Savannah Marriott Riverfront in Georgia and Spinnaker Resorts in South Carolina. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality management from the University of South Carolina in 2013. SWFL Inc. is a regional chamber of commerce serving the Southwest Florida business community. For more information, visit SWFLinc.com.

Michael Versnik

Versnik named partner at Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz P.A.

Michael Versnik, a seasoned personal injury lawyer who joined Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz P.A. in 2019, has been named a partner of the nearly 60-year-old firm. Versnik, rated “AV Preeminent” Civil Trial Attorney, the highest-ranking under the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating system, focuses on personal injury litigation, including motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, motorcycle and bicycle accidents and premises liability cases. Other partners in the firm include managing partners Purtz and Chris Smith, and partners Stephen W. Buckley, John B. Cechman, and Andrea Pleimling Smith. J. Jeffrey Rice is a former managing partner.

Youth Haven Inc. names Bliss director of finance and operations

Youth Haven Inc. has appointed Cassandra Bliss as director of finance and operations. Bliss received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Central Methodist University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Liberty University. With more than 19 years of experience in the financial field, Bliss’s professional background includes experience with nonprofits, large and small for-profit corporations, corporate litigation, the financial side of political advocacy and lobbying, FAA compliance, and insurance. Bliss is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and a VIP member of the worldwide Who’s Who registry of executives, professionals and entrepreneurs.

Iman Zekri

Henderson Franklin welcomes Zekri

Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt P.A. has hired Iman Zekri as an associate in the divorce, marital and family law department. She served as a summer associate with the firm in 2019. Zekri is a native of Southwest Florida. She graduated from Riverdale High School’s International Baccalaureate program; received her Associate of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Florida SouthWestern State College; Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Florida Gulf Coast University; and Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from University of Florida Levin College of Law. While in law school, Zekri was an editor of the Florida Journal of International Law and a member of the Florida Moot Court Team. She has received multiple awards for her accomplishments.  In addition, The Florida Bar Journal featured Zekri’s article on the cover of the September/October 2020 edition, “Respectfully Dissenting: How Dissenting Opinions Shape the Law and Impact Collegiality Among Judges.”

Savasta-Lagan joins RMC Group

RMC Group has hired Joy Savasta-Lagan as a commercial lines account executive. Savasta-Lagan is responsible for maintaining relationships with business clients and soliciting new business for the property and casualty division of RMC Group. Savasta-Lagan brings more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry to RMC Group. She has previously worked for Allstate Insurance in a similar commercial lines role and in employee benefits at the start of her career for a life insurance company. Savasta-Lagan graduated from Long Island University with a degree in business administration. She holds both Life and Health (Florida 2-15) and Property and Casualty (Florida 2-20) licenses. 

Vanessa Tyler

Tyler appointed to Florida Chapter of Women in Healthcare board

Vanessa Tyler, brand ambassador of Studio+, an architecture and interior design firm, has been appointed treasurer on the board of directors for the newly created Women in Healthcare (WIH) Florida Chapter. The chapter comprises a diverse community of women in healthcare partnering to advance and empower women in the industry through access to education, innovation, and opportunity. “The inception of this chapter could not have come at a better time, as the healthcare industry is under tremendous pressure, and in need of more leadership and support than ever,” says Tyler. Women make up 80% of the healthcare workforce yet hold 19% of hospital CEO positions and head only 4% of healthcare companies, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “As one of the founding members, I am excited to be a part of a team of women who will create positive change and break barriers in the healthcare industry.” WIH’s first-year chapter goals will focus on membership growth, mentorship, and overall education that enriches and informs others of the women’s perspective within the healthcare industry.



Stephanie Hoffman, Lisa Sands, Charlyn Veracka, David Veracka, Lee Knapp and Cecilia St. Arnold

Rockstar Harley-Davidson donates $50,000 to local children’s charities

David and Charlyn Veracka, on Dec. 12, representing the entire Rockstar Harley-Davidson family, presented a check for $50,000 to local children’s charities that are beneficiaries of the annual Paul Sands Memorial Slaw Dog Invitational golf tournament, now in its 24th year. Two years ago, the Veracka family added Rockstar Harley-Davidson, formerly Six Bends Harley-Davidson, a 54,000-square-foot motorcycle destination located off of I-75 and Daniels, to their growing list of motorcycle dealerships across the country. The 24th Annual Paul Sands Memorial Slaw Dog Invitational will go on as planned to benefit Blessings in a Backpack of Southwest Florida, Paul Sands Memorial REIS Scholarship Fund at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Stockings 4 Kids. In addition, a portion of Rockstar Harley-Davidson’s donation will support Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida.

NAMI Collier receives $20,000 from Suncoast Credit Union

NAMI Collier has received a $20,000 donation from Suncoast Credit Union to support local COVID-19 response efforts in the community. NAMI Collier will use the funds to continue mental health support groups that are always free to the community. Offerings include Peer-to-Peer, which gives adults living with mental health conditions a better understanding of their condition and hope for recovery; Family-to-Family, which helps loved ones of those with a mental health condition significantly improve their problem solving and coping abilities; as well as many additional support groups in multiple formats. The donation from Suncoast Credit Union is part of a $550,000 donation to support hunger and mental health organizations throughout Florida that have seen increased needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jodi and Rose receive the keys to their new ROOF home in Naples, each with their own separately leased bedroom.

ROOF receives $10,000 grant from Truist

Residential Options of Florida (ROOF) received a $10,000 grant from Truist Financial Corp. in support of ROOF’s new Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) Program. The TBRA program will make housing affordable for low-income residents with developmental disabilities. Although various types of rental assistance are available, ROOF is the only provider in Southwest Florida that specifically serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. ROOF will provide financial assistance and case management for qualified tenants with disabilities in Collier County so they can afford to rent a home for no more than 30% of their gross income. The program is open to individuals with developmental disabilities who want to live independently as well as families that include a household member with a developmental disability. For more information, visit flroof.org or call 239-774-ROOF (7663).

NCH first responders receive holiday turkeys in show of appreciation

A partnership between the Wynn family, Naples resident Audrey M. Petersen and NCH Healthcare System, resulted in pre-holiday donations of 5,000 turkeys to thank first responders for their heroic efforts during the pandemic. One by one, doctors and nurses lined up with medical and professional staff members on Dec. 17 at Baker Hospital in Naples, each bringing home an entrée to enjoy with their loved ones. Jeff Wynn, president of Wynn Properties and a corporate officer at Wynn’s Market, said the idea of a holiday donation arose during the summer. Wynn’s Market tapped into its network of food suppliers and logistics experts to arrange the delivery. For more information, visit SunshineAce.com.
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