Gulfshore Business Daily: January 9

Charlotte County Tourist Development Tax collections increase for November, Bayfront Health Port Charlotte earns an accreditation, Opera Naples hires an executive director and more.


The Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau announced Charlotte County Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenues collected during November 2018 totaled $198,701. This reflects a 4.8 percent increase over November 2017’s collections of $168,306. October 2018’s collections were up 6.3 percent over October 2017’s collections.

The tourism bureau supported and/or facilitated several events which brought in overnight visitors, such as the beginning of the AAU Pickleball National Championship, Big Orange Music Festival, Englewood Beach WaterFest, Mind Abair’s Punta Gorda Wine & Music Festival, and Prostyle Baseball Sunshine Classic. Overnight attendees of Englewood Beach WaterFest stayed an estimated 7.8 nights in Charlotte County and occupied 6,930 room nights in local accommodations, according to commissioned research conducted by Downs & St. German Research of Tallahassee.

During fiscal year 2017-18, TDT collections totaled more than $4.1 million. During calendar year 2017, Charlotte County welcomed an estimated 422,500 visitors, tourism generated an estimated $380,841,400 in direct expenditures, and made an estimated $580,783,200 million economic impact.


Bayfront Health Port Charlotte is the first in the State of Florida to have achieved accreditation as a Center of Excellence in Colorectal Surgery by Surgical Review Corporation (SRC). A Center of Excellence in Colorectal Surgery accreditation distinguishes Bayfront Health Port Charlotte from other facilities by providing the highest quality of care to its patients as determined by an independent, external process of evaluation. Status as an accredited Center of Excellence in Colorectal Surgery means Bayfront Health Port Charlotte, along with board-certified colon and rectal surgeon Dr. Domingo Galliano Jr. have met nationally recognized standards. Not all healthcare organizations or surgeons seek accreditation; not all that undergo the rigorous onsite inspection process are granted accreditation.


The League of Courageous Women will host a luncheon at Naples Art Association this Saturday featuring Kamela Patton, Superintendent of Collier County Public Schools, who will discuss the importance and impact of keeping art in schools as an educational and leadership growth tool. The League will also unveil a mosaic mural created by young female attendees at the League’s signature annual event, “The Leadership Summit,” which took place in the fall of 2018. The event is $10 for students and $20 for adults. All genders welcome. Tickets are available at


Opera Naples welcomes a new executive director, Timothy Todd Simmons. Simmons most recently served as the executive director at the New Orleans Opera for eight years. Prior to that, Simmons served as the chorus master/assistant conductor with the San Diego Opera. Simmons also co-founded a firm that provided strategic business consulting to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. He graduated from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and holds a Master of Music from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a Master of Business Administration from San Diego State University College of Business. Simmons has also served in adjunct professor and vocal coaching positions, and as director of music for various churches and synagogues in Indiana, San Diego and New Orleans.


Fort Myers-based duPont Builders is building a major expansion of Vehicle Fortress, Southwest Florida’s upscale storage condos for RVs and all types of vehicles.

The construction company will double the size of the Vehicle Fortress development with three new buildings totaling 36,000 square feet at 14702 Tarmac Court, Fort Myers, near Southwest Florida International Airport. Once those are sold, duPont Builders will build another three buildings. There’s room for another nine buildings on an adjacent 7.5-acre parcel. 

Each climate-controlled condo is 50 feet deep and 18-to-22 feet wide, with 14-foot-high doors. That’s enough room for RVs, boats and large personal luxury items. A development video is available here. The new condos will be available for occupancy this summer. For more information, visit


The National Consumer Advisory Board re-nominated Dr. Tim M. Verwest as one of America’s best dentist for 2019. The selection is based on a proprietary assessment of a dentist’s experience, training, continuing education, and commitment to excellence to ensure the most impartial unbiased review of all applicants. Verwest is a board-certified diplomat of the National Board of Pediatric Dentistry with professional interests in the areas of pediatric pharmacology, biomaterials, and pediatric anesthesia. He continues his education by taking courses in pediatric sedation, pediatric oncology, sealants, prosthetics, pediatric cosmetic dentistry, pediatric materials, childhood growth and development and more. For more information about Verwest’s services, visit or call (239) 482-2722.


The Planned Giving Council of Lee County Inc. will present “Leveraging Legacy Planning for Deeper Donor Relationships and Increased Donations,” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 at Blue Coyote Business & Social Club in Fort Myers.

The speaker is Anne Marie Levin, national practice leader, family wealth legacy planning services, Key Private Bank. Levin works with high net worth clients and business owners, helping them design and implement sophisticated wealth strategies. Levin also works with clients on legacy planning.

Levin holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Villanova University, a law degree from Temple School of Law, and a Master of Laws in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law. The meeting is sponsored by Key Private Bank. The event is free to members. The cost for non-members is $30 and includes lunch. The reservation deadline is Jan. 14 at noon. To RSVP, go to


Strides for Education 5K Run/Walk coming in February

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools is holding its eighth annual Strides for Education 5K Run/Walk at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 2 at Florida SouthWestern State College. Registration starts at 6:30 a.m. The event’s Title Sponsor is Suncoast Credit Union and funds will benefit The Foundation’s Take Stock in Children scholarship program.

Schools and businesses throughout Lee County are challenged to create the largest team.  More than 1,200 business leaders, community partners, and educators participated in last year’s race. The first 1,100 registered participants will receive a long sleeve, dry-fit race shirt and goody bag. Online registration is available until Jan. 31 at Registration will be available the day of the event for $35.

Get breaking business news delivered straight to your inbox each weekday morning with Gulfshore Business Daily.