Gulfshore Business Daily: January 26

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Phil Allman(Credit: Julia Bonavita/Florida Gulf Coast University)
Lead Photo: Phil Allman. Credit: Julia Bonavita/Florida Gulf Coast University

 

SWFL COMMUNITIES AWARDED HURRICANE IRMA RELIEF FUNDS

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that nearly $100 million will be awarded to 24 Florida communities impacted by Hurricane Irma through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Rebuild Florida Infrastructure Repair Program, which helps communities fund infrastructure restoration and improvement projects in communities impacted by disasters. The funds are allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery program. Southwest Florida communities receiving grants include the city of Bonita Springs ($2,958,297) to increase storage pond drainage capacity, the city of North Port ($1,150,000) to improve inflow and infiltration wastewater collection systems, the city of North Port ($650,440) to install permanent generators for lift stations, Collier County ($602,786.32) to improve drainage systems to mitigation future flooding, and Hendry County ($1,635,610) to improve conveyance and pumping capacity to move stormwater to a larger detention area. Lee County received three grants: $2,718,577 to replace sidewalks and roadside drainage systems damaged by the storm, $732,540 to clear five canals of vegetation debris and sediment, and $678,566 to replace the pedestrian bridge and Richmond Avenue over Able Canal and Lehigh Acres.
 

Video courtesy of WINK News

NEW TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS MANDATE MASKS AT AIRPORTS

The next time you fly out of RSW or any airport make sure you wear your mask. And, if you’re planning on leaving the country, make sure to quarantine when you get back. These are just two of the travel restrictions that go into effect today under President Biden’s new executive order. If you’re traveling across state lines on a train, bus or plane, or you’re simply at the airport, you’ll have to wear a mask. International travelers must show a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine when they arrive in the United States, WINK News reports.
 

Michael Siegal

STEEL EXECUTIVE TO HEADLINE NEXTGEN SPEAKER SERIES EVENT ON JAN. 29

Michael D. Siegal, executive chairman of Olympic Steel, is the keynote speaker at the NextGen Speaker Series event, beginning with networking at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 29, followed by the featured presentation at 9 a.m. The NextGen event will take place in a new, interactive online format utilizing Hopin, a virtual event platform. Siegal, who rose from an entry-level position to CEO in 10 years, will share insights about how he guided what was then was a relatively small, family-owned business into one of the nation’s premier metals service centers. The NextGen Speaker Series, founded and presented by Benson Blackburn, brings together business and community professionals to encourage leadership, mentorship, empowerment and philanthropy. The Jan. 29 session is the first event of the 2021 NextGen Speaker Series. This season’s speakers also include Joel Anderson, CEO of Five Below; Bill Sanford, former CEO of Steris Corp.; and a panel discussion, Leading Ladies: The Business of the Arts, featuring Broadway producers and Southwest Florida arts organization leaders. Tickets for the Jan. 29 event are $30. Attendees can purchase a season pass to access all four events for $129. Register by visiting NextGenNaples.com/subscribe.
 

TRAIL PROFESSIONAL CENTER BEING REDEVELOPED IN EAST NAPLES

The 46-year-old Trail Professional Center was recently demolished to make way for a new legal and professional office building at 3080 Tamiami Trail E. in East Naples. The commercial project, which will be home to a law firm and engineering company when completed, will take about 10 months to build. The building’s previous law firm tenants relocated last year. East Trail Office LLC purchased the 1.5-acre U.S. 41 property southeast of Bayshore Drive for $1.35 million in September. The footprint of the former 8,000-square-foot structure, which was built in 1974, will be expanded to more than 10,000 square feet. For more information about units available for lease or purchase go to trailprofessionalcenter.com
 

VITA tax preparer working drop off/pick up site

UNITED WAY VITA PROGRAM TO OFFER FREE FEDERAL TAX RETURN PREP

The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee free VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) tax filing assistance program is offering free federal tax filing services at 18 sites in Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Charlotte Counties to individuals and families making less than $66,000 per year. IRS certified United Way VITA volunteers will prepare the returns and determine if the taxpayers are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and/or Childcare Credits, while helping low-to-moderate-income households meet their basic needs and build financial assets. Starting Jan. 25, sites will offer either traditional face-to-face or drop-off and pick-up appointments. Participants are required to wear face coverings during the visit and social distancing protocols have been implemented to ensure the safety of both the volunteers and clients. For more information, visit Unitedwaylee.org/freetaxprep or call the United Way 211 Helpline by dialing 2-1-1 or 239-433-3900. Taxpayers who prefer a no-contact option can e-file free of charge with MyFreeTaxes.com.
 

FGCU PROFESSOR’S RESEARCH COULD SAVE THOUSANDS OF ENDANGERED SEA TURTLES

After years of studying sea turtles in Ghana, Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) vertebrate zoology associate professor Phil Allman found a way to save them, according to FGCU. In a new study, Allman proves a simple, low-cost innovation reduces the number of endangered sea turtles killed because of fishing nets operated by small-scale fisheries. Working with a small team, Allman partnered with fishers in Ghana to modify fishing nets. He installed several green LED lights around each net, a change that has worked in commercial fisheries. Allman said this is the first study to try the same lights on nets operated by their small-scale counterparts. The study is published in the journal Conservation Biology from the Society of Conversation Biology. For the full story, click here.
 

Benjamin R. Siegel

SIEGEL NAMED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF LEE COUNTY PORT AUTHORITY

The Lee County Board of Port Commissioners named Benjamin R. Siegel as the executive director of the Lee County Port Authority on Jan. 21. As executive director, he will direct the administration, operations and development of Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) and Page Field in Fort Myers. Siegel has been with the Lee County Port Authority since 1992 and most recently served as the acting executive director. Under his leadership, the Lee County Port Authority finance team secured $327 million for RSW’s Midfield Terminal Complex — one of the largest issuances of financing in Lee County history. Current projects under his oversight are the Airport Traffic Control Tower and the Terminal Expansion Project at Southwest Florida International Airport. Siegel holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of South Florida and is a Certified Public Accountant. He is a Certified Member of the American Association of Airport Executives, as well as a member of the Florida Airports Council, Airports Council International-North America, Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. 
 

Mary C. Schoeffel

PARKINSON’S ASSOCIATION OF SWFL HIRES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The Board of Directors of the Parkinson’s Association of Southwest Florida has appointed Mary C. Schoeffel as the new executive director. Schoeffel holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree from Loyola University Chicago and a Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of Dallas. She worked as the development director for a human services organization that assisted the homeless in Dallas before serving as the executive director of Texas Discovery Gardens and then as a regional support director and manager for Susan G. Komen.  Most recently, Mary served as the development director for the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel Island. Schoeffel assumes the position just in time for the Parkinson’s Association of SWFL’s 22nd Annual Step-Up for Parkinson’s Walk, held from 9 a.m. to noon of Feb. 13, held virtually or in-person at Baker Park in Naples. For more information, visit parkinsonsassociationswfl.org.
 

FineMark headquarters

STEVENS CONSTRUCTION COMPLETES FINEMARK HEADQUARTERS

Stevens Construction has completed the corporate headquarters of FineMark National Bank & Trust. Located at 8695 College Pkwy. in Fort Myers, FineMark is a three-story, 60,000-square-foot, tilt-wall building with exquisite interiors such as custom millwork, tray ceilings, white oak trim, custom lighting and glass mosaic tile. Situated on six acres, FineMark features a 30-foot lobby adorned with white oak and tile ascending to the ceiling, pendant chandeliers, artwork and porcelain tile. The porte-cochere includes roof pavers. In addition, FineMark has a community room with a 200-inch projection screen, tray ceilings, surround sound, dimmable lighting and power window shades. FineMark also has a full commercial kitchen, natural gas generator and state-of-the-art technology. The Stevens Construction team includes Daniel Adams, project executive; Mike Brooks, project manager; Dan Kenyon, superintendent; Dan Oak, project engineer; and Rebeccah Cabana, project administrator. The architect of record was Studio+ and interiors were provided by Clive Daniel Home.
 

Naples Senior Center site aerial photo

NAPLES SENIOR CENTER CLOSES ON SITE FOR NEW PERMANENT HOME

Naples Senior Center, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive programs and social services for seniors, has purchased 13.7 acres for its new permanent home on Autumn Oaks Lane, just one block south of Immokalee Road. The transaction, which closed on Jan. 22,was priced at $2.75 million. The new Naples Senior Center will be centrally located to the largest concentration of members and will be easily accessible from other locations in Collier County, the human services agency states. The site also will enable seniors to benefit from a nurturing, natural setting that offers outdoor space for walking, quiet contemplation and low-impact exercise programs such as tai chi. The 30,000-square-foot facility will be funded through a capital campaign that was launched in 2019 and has been accelerated by a $5-million commitment from local philanthropists Patty and Jay Baker.
 

Kerry Hunter

TRUST AND INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT SEMINARS HELD IN FEBRUARY

Complimentary Trust and Investment Management seminars presented by Kerry Hunter, trust development officer at Englewood Bank & Trust, will continue in February. The seminars take place from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Englewood Chamber of Commerce, 601 South Indiana Ave., Englewood. Hunter will be joined by Portfolio Manager Samuel A. Kiburz and attorneys Lori Wellbaum Emery and Dean Hanewinckel. The February events include “Exchange Traded Funds vs. Mutual Funds” on Feb. 4, “Estate-Planning Basics” on Feb. 11, and “Becoming a Floridian” on Feb. 25. To register for any or all of the seminars, visit englewoodbank.com or contact Hunter at 941-473-3629 or khunter@ebtfl.com.
 

CHARITABLE NOTES

 

Red Sox Foundation to award $70,000 in local scholarship funds

The Red Sox Foundation will award $5,000 scholarships this spring to one academically talented senior from each of the 14 public high schools in Lee County who demonstrates a commitment to community service. Applications, now open and available to local Lee County public high school seniors online, are due by March 12. Scholarship funds are raised annually from proceeds of the Red Sox annual Swings for the Sox Golf Tournament, WINK News reports.
 

Women in Business to host Sweethearts and Scholarships Feb. 3

The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Committee will host its annual “Sweethearts and Scholarships Wine & Dessert Auction” fundraiser from 4 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 3 at Millennial Brewing Co. Arekie Food Truck will be on-site with food available for purchase and music will be provided by DJ Mal. Attendees may participate in a chance drawing for a variety of wine, desserts and other prizes. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Women in Business’ scholarship fund, which awards scholarships annually to non-traditional students pursuing their educational goals at Florida SouthWestern State College, Florida Gulf Coast University and Hodges University. Admission is $10 for members of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and $20 for nonmembers and includes one complimentary drink. To register, visit Members.FortMyers.org/Events. Pre-sale tickets will be waiting at check-in. Prize donations and event sponsorships are being accepted until Jan. 28. Email Debra@fortmyers.org or call 239-332-2930 for more information.
 
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