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Gulfshore Business Daily: July 13

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Video courtesy of WINK News

FORT MYERS CITY LEADERS VOTE AGAINST MASK MANDATE

After a long meeting Thursday afternoon, a proposed mask mandate failed 4-3 to pass Fort Myers City Council. Councilman Kevin Anderson made a motion to encourage businesses to mandate masks in their stores, like what Costco is doing during the coronavirus pandemic. Council members Gail Antony, Fred Burson, Kevin Anderson and Mayor Randy Henderson voted no. “This is an act of taking personal freedoms away from the United States citizens and that’s something I object to,” Henderson said. Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and Punta Gorda all require masks to be worn when entering buildings and other indoor areas, WINK News reports.
 

COLLIER COUNTY TOPS LIST OF PLACES WITH HIGHEST TAX REFUNDS IN FLORIDA

Collier County topped SmartAsset’s list of “Places With the Highest Tax Refunds and Places that Owe the Most” for Florida. To determine the counties that owe the most in taxes, the financial technology company divided the total taxes owed in each county by the number of filers that still owe taxes. Collier County was listed as No. 1 with 121,020 as the number of people who receive refunds; $4,418 as the average tax amount refunded; 46,940 as the number of taxpayers who owe taxes; $14,268 as the average tax amount owed; and an overall taxes owed index of 58.03. For more details on the study, including the methodology and interactive map, check here. Wednesday is the filing deadline for 2020 income tax returns.
 

PUNTA GORDA AIRPORT TRAFFIC CONTINUES RECOVERY

The Charlotte County Airport Authority announced the Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) passenger count for June 2020 totaled 93,767, with 47,846 departing passengers and 45,921 arriving passengers. June 2020’s passenger count was down 30% from June 2019’s passenger numbers, and planes were an average of 72% full. Private air charter and general aviation traffic also rebounded in June, according to a news release. Air traffic control data shows that the number of total takeoffs and landings was 5,787, down 6% from June 2019. For more information, visit flypgd.com/updates
 

Video courtesy of WINK News

LOFTON’S ISLAND IN CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER BACK ON THE MARKET

Lofton’s Island in the Caloosahatchee River near downtown Fort Myers is up for sale. The 9.3-acre island between the Edison and Caloosahatchee bridges has access to water, sewer and electricity, so it would be possible to build a home there. The online auction starts July 21 and closes July 23. “It’s exciting and the interesting part about this auction is it’s a no-reserve auction. It’s an absolute auction, so there are no reserves or minimums, so it’s going to sell to the highest bidder,” says Lamar Fisher, president and CEO of Fisher Auction Co. While auctioneers don’t have an estimate of what Lofton’s Island might sell for, it was previously listed at $5.9 million, WINK News reports.
 

CONSERVANCY OF SWFL ANNOUNCES DALTON DISCOVERY CENTER EXPANSION

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has announced a $4.5 million renovation and expansion of its Susan and William Dalton Discovery Center, which will add new interactive exhibits and galleries exploring areas of critical importance to the region. The Dalton Discovery Center, which opened in 2012, is an interactive learning center featuring live animals and exhibits that showcase Southwest Florida’s ecosystems. The Dalton Discovery Center renovations and expansion include new enhancements such as an Augmented Reality Endangered Species exhibit that will allow guests to interact digitally with Florida’s threatened animals. The new John & Carol Walter Discovery Wing will feature an Invasive Species Gallery and digital Climate Change Gallery. To accommodate the construction timeline, the Conservancy Nature Center will close to the public until the project’s estimated completion in early 2021. Through a grant from the Big Cypress Basin of the South Florida Water Management District, the Conservancy also plans to alter the property’s current wet detention and filter marsh design to increase the water treatment area by 62.7%. For more details and resources, visit Conservancy.org/Virtual-Learning.
 

NEW BUSINESS OPENS IN NAPLES

DamEasy USA has opened in Naples. DamEasyUSA, operated by WeatherDam LLC, is the exclusive U.S. distributor of a flood barrier from Europe with customers in over 40 countries. The DamEasy Flood Barrier is the first to use pneumatic pump technology to create a watertight seal and is still the only flood barrier to use this patented approach, a news release states. This product is designed to help protect residential and commercial properties, particularly those who are located in high-risk flood zones. For more information, visit dameasyusa.com.
 

FACES ON FIFTH ONLINE VIDEO SERIES UNVEILS NEW EPISODE 

Luca Di Falco, managing partner of the BiCE Group, is featured in the new Faces on Fifth video unveiled on July 9 by the Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District (BID) in Naples. “Faces on Fifth was created to build the business community culture by spotlighting business owners and the reasons why they chose to locate their business on Fifth Avenue South,” says Bruce Barone, Jr., executive director of the BID.    The latest video can be found here.
 

CHARITABLE NOTES

The Immokalee Foundation receives $50,000 grant for afterschool program 

The Immokalee Foundation has been awarded a two-year grant from the New York Life Foundation to support its afterschool program “Career Pathways: Empowering Students to Succeed,” a career-oriented initiative that works with middle school students and their parents to learn about in-demand careers in Southwest Florida. The New York Life Foundation’s Aim High grant funding program will help The Immokalee Foundation expand both the number of middle school students served and the services provided through Career Pathways. The program provides an actionable career path for students to follow throughout high school and post-secondary education to ensure a successful transition into the workforce by assisting middle school students to explore professional career opportunities in four Career Pathways with high growth rates in the region, a news release states. The grant is one of 26 new grants this year from the New York Life Foundation’s “Aim High” program, a partnership with the Afterschool Alliance.
 

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