Gulfshore Business Daily: December 3

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Lead Photo: Marci Seamples of the Naples Zoo talks with two attendees of the 2020 Community Expo at the Promenade at Bonita Bay. Details below.



The Department of Revenue has released to the Florida Chamber of Commerce the Reemployment Tax Rate (formally known as unemployment tax) for employers beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Florida job creators will see an almost 200% increase in unemployment costs, as employers that are at the minimum rate for unemployment will see a tax increase of $13.30 per employee and will now pay $20.30 per employee in 2021 compared to $7 an employee in 2020, according to the Florida Chamber. Other employers with variable rates will also see increases in 2021 unless they are at a maximum rate of 5.4%, the chamber also states. The minimum rate will reportedly increase from 0.10% to 0.29% due to socialized costs, such as the non-charge ratio and a fund size adjustment ratio to replenish the trust fund. The maximum rate, set in statute, remains at 5.4%. The taxable wage base remains at $7,000 for the year 2021.


Hermès has signed a lease for a 5,000-square-foot boutique at Waterside Shops in Naples. The new store is planned to open for the 2022 holiday season in the freestanding space now occupied by Ralph Lauren between the Lily Pulitzer and Apple stores on the eastern edge of the open-air shopping mall in Pelican Bay. The Ralph Lauren brand may relocate its longtime store within the upscale mall. “We do not discuss ongoing leasing negotiations, but we look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Ralph Lauren,” says Anne Fleming, general manager of Waterside Shops. Ralph Lauren’s existing 5,997-square-foot building will be partially demolished and slightly downsized for Hermès, according to site development plans filed with Collier County by Naples-based Davidson Engineering on behalf of The Forbes Co., the owner of Waterside Shops. Paris-based Hermès, a manufacturer of high-fashion luxury items, specializes in leather goods, home furnishings, jewelry, perfume, scarves, neckties and other hand-made products, clothing and accessories. The Waterside store will be the second Hermès location for The Forbes Co., which has an Hermès boutique at its Mall at Millenia in Orlando. Hermès has other Florida stores in Miami and Palm Beach.

Video courtesy of WINK News


The city of Fort Myers is considering creating more affordable housing. A developer wants to begin construction in February on 140 townhomes to be built on the corner of Veronica Shoemaker Boulevard and Edison Avenue. To help fund the $28 million project, the city’s community redevelopment agency is looking at a tax increment rebate for about $5 million. With many people out of a job and the homeless population growing in Fort Myers, nonprofit agencies and local leaders say now is the time to fix the problem,WINK News reports.

Teri Hansen of Priority Marketing, Winner of 2019 Business Ethics Award


The Uncommon Friends Foundation has extended the nominations deadline for its 2020 Business Ethics Award to Jan. 15, 2021. Businesses in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry and Glades Counties who consistently demonstrate a system-wide commitment to high ethical business practices are eligible. Businesses can nominate themselves or be nominated by a third party. The online nomination form and detailed submission guidelines are available at Finalists will be announced after the close of nominations and will be honored at the annual Florida Gulf Coast University Business Ethics Roundtable to be held on April 21, 2021. The Business Ethics Award recipient will be announced at an Uncommon Breakfast Gala to be held on May 14, 2021. Fundraising efforts will be in the form of Uncommon Society and Uncommon Evening annual sponsorships. For more information, contact Jennifer Nelson at 239-826-0556 or


Table displays are available to all Southwest Florida businesses for the 2021 Community Expo, presented by SWFL Inc. The expo is an opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and services, offer giveaways and connect with area visitors and residents. The event will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Feb. 25 outdoors at the Promenade at Bonita Bay. Table displays can be purchased online at or by calling 239-992-2943, and only a limited number of displays are available. Businesses don’t need to be a member of SWFL Inc. to purchase a table, but they can sign up for membership for free at any time. This event is free to attend.

Southport Truck Group expands with help from Seagate Development Group.


Seagate Development Group has completed Southport Truck Group’s 6,000-square-foot warehouse at 16110 Lee Road in Fort Myers. This fulfills the new and used truck dealer’s need for extra Freightliner storage and complements the preexisting repair shop and sales parts building, also constructed and designed by Seagate. Crews broke ground on this project in late September. Adjacent to Southport’s original facility, the warehouse reflects a classic industrial design with cement walls, open steel ceilings and fluorescent lighting. The shed-inspired, garage-type structure sits in the Freightliner parking lot for maximized use and multipurpose space.

Laura Ragain of RMHC SWFL, Jordan Azis of Stickboy, Amy Velez of RMHC SWFL, and Josh Zachritz of Stickboy.


Stickboy, a Fort Myers based technology company, has teamed up with Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwest Florida (RMHC SWFL) as its technology partner. Services donated thus far consist of digital Transformation, with a cloud environment created to lower cost and remove the need for a physical server onsite; technology planning for the new expansion, with Stickboy configuring and installing network, security cameras, access control, and phone system in partnership with Epic Communication; and discounted monthly help desk support for all technology needs. To date, Stickboy has donated $8,800 worth of in-kind technology services to RMHC SWFL.

Austin Dubin


Hughes, Snell & Co. P.A., Certified Public Accountants and Consultants (HSC), announces that Austin Dubin has joined the firm. Dubin graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. He made both the FGCU Dean’s List and President’s List. As part of his studies at FGCU, he worked as an audit intern at HSC. Hughes, Snell & Co., P.A. is a full-service accounting firm that has been providing tax, accounting and business advisory solutions to Southwest Florida clients since 1974. For more information, visit



Beautiful Health’s second free health talk set for Dec. 10

Beautiful Health will be offering its second health talk via Zoom at 4 p.m. on Dec. 10. “How stress is killing your digestive system especially during the holidays” is part of a series of three free online sessions offered by Caroline Thonon, certified health coach and owner of Naples-based Beautiful Health. Thonon is hoping to help educate others about good health and habits that lead to a happier and healthier life. Another session planned in January will provide information on how to lose belly fat. To register for these sessions, email Thonon at For more information, call 239-241 5111 or visit

Naples Airport Authority to hold ribbon-cutting for new airport fire station

The Naples Airport Authority (NAA), City of Naples and City of Naples Fire-Rescue Department are holding a ribbon-cutting event on Dec. 8 at Naples Airport to mark the opening of the City of Naples Fire Station No. 3/Naples Airport Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Station. The Fire Station No. 3 and the ARFF Station is the product of years of planning and cooperation between the Naples Airport Authority, City of Naples and City of Naples Fire-Rescue Department. The new state-of-the-art facility builds on the Naples Airport Authority’s commitment to safety for airport users, as well as the surrounding communities. For more information about the Naples Airport, visit



Friends of Foster Children Forever launches scholarship for foster children

Friends of Foster Children Forever is announcing its new scholarship program, established to assist those who are or have been in foster care in Collier County obtain a four-year or two-year degree or program certificate after high school graduation. Naples-based Friends of Foster Children Forever provides consistency and stability to children while ensuring proper social, and academic development by connecting children to, and financially supporting early childhood programs, mentoring/tutoring, extracurricular activities and emergency supplies. The $2,000-scholarship will be awarded for the 2021-2022 school year and may be used for tuition, books, and fees. Applicants must be, or have been in foster care in Collier County and be a graduating senior or currently enrolled in a secondary institution. Applications are being accepted now through Feb. 1 at

Youth Haven’s Home, Hope & Healing online fundraiser closes Friday

Youth Haven’s Home, Hope & Healing online fundraiser launched at 9 a.m. on Dec. 1 and will close at 9 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 4. The public is invited to bid on items to support the children and teens that depend on Youth Haven. Bid or donate by clicking here. Items include golf foursomes, jewelry donated by Marissa Collections, boat rentals, gift certificates to local dining, spa packages, gently loved high-end designer handbags and more. For additional details, follow Youth Haven’s Facebook page or contact Laura Lafakis at

The Above Board Chamber of Florida

The Above Board Chamber of Florida asks for help granting holiday wishes

The Above Board Chamber of Florida has collected a wish list of local nonprofit needs and is asking its members and the community to help fulfill them. More than ever before, these nonprofits have encountered an overwhelming demand and dwindling resources in their quest to help families, individuals, and businesses survive from one day to the next, the Above Board Chamber of Florida states. No donation is too small or too large. To join the chamber in granting wishes, see the complete list of wishes, or gain more information, contact Jeanne Sweeney, CEO of the Above Board Chamber, at 239-910-7426 or

NABOR raises funds for charities

The Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR) presented checks totaling $17,500 to two charities—Silent Angels and Bosom Buddies—as a result of their fundraising efforts in 2020. The Silent Angels fund is a Florida Realtors charity composed of Realtors dedicated to helping community members who have encountered a tough set of circumstances but may not be comfortable reaching out for help. Applications to the Silent Angels fund are submitted by third parties on behalf of those in need. To contribute, click here. Bosom Buddies is a breast cancer charity helping women who are facing the diagnosis of breast cancer while being uninsured or underinsured in Collier County. To contribute, email
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