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Gulfshore Business Daily: June 25

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Lead Photo: Stevens Construction begins City of Fort Myers Fire Station 17

 

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT REPORTS RECORD-BREAKING MAY TRAFFIC

During May, a record-breaking 946,366 passengers traveled through Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers. This increased 562% compared to May 2020 and more than 30% above May 2019. Year-to-date, passenger traffic is up 34.9% compared to last year. The traffic leader in May was Southwest Airlines, with 212,214 total passengers. Rounding out the top five airlines were Delta (193,971), American (124,336), United (122,108) and JetBlue (94,007). Southwest Florida International Airport had 9,203 aircraft operations, increasing nearly 175% compared to May 2020. Page Field saw 12,097 operations, a 24.7% increase compared to May 2020.

 

HOSPITALS OFFERING SIGN-ON BONUSES TO HIRE NURSES IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Early in the pandemic, nurses were laid off as hospitals were forced to scale back on what treatment and surgeries they could perform. Other nurses left on their own after they were burned out, exhausted or afraid they could become infected with COVID-19. Now there’s a desperate need to bring back those nurses. Hoping large sign-on checks will work, hospital systems in Southwest Florida are paying big bucks in bonuses to get these nurses back. At NCH Healthcare System, a nurse can get between $500 to $20,000 for signing on. At Lee Health, nurses can get more than $9,000 in moving expenses. Physicians Regional Healthcare System is offering multiple incentives, including help with tuition, WINK News reports.

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

VACATION HOME SALES BOOM IN CAPE CORAL, OTHER PARTS OF LEE COUNTY

Vacation home sales rose 16.4% in 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors. People especially are picking Lee County to call their home away from home, propelling Fort Myers and Cape Coral to the number one spot in the country for vacation home sales. People who want to live in the region are buying homes at a record pace. Homes that used to sell in weeks are gone in days. People are buying permanent homes and vacation homes too. Inventory is moving faster than ever, creating hot competition in the Cape Coral housing market. There are fewer “for sale” signs, and those who want to sell don’t wait long, WINK News reports.

 

UPDATES COMING TO FORT MYERS DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT AREA

Montage at Midtown will add 321 multifamily apartments to the Midtown section of Fort Myers’ downtown redevelopment area, the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency reports. The $72 million complex is expected to be a catalyst spurring additional development in the area. Today, the vacant property generates less than $6,000 in taxes to the city, but the addition of Montage at Midtown is projected to increase the city’s tax base to $868,728 for that property alone, according to the Fort Myers CRA. Montage at Midtown was approved for a CRA tax increment rebate of $11.508 million. Phase one construction will begin in April 2022, with a planned opening in February 2024. Staybridge Suites, a 100-suite hotel project located at 2465 Second St., is also planned for the downtown redevelopment area. It will be a five-story, limited-service, extended-stay facility with studios and one-bedroom suites. The $18.5 million Staybridge Suites will be built on a location formerly proposed for a Holiday Inn. The developer is changing its hotel brand to better meet the travel needs of larger families. Staybridge Suites has been selected for a $3.3 million tax increment rebate.

 

CRA APPROVES FINAL PILLAR IN AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGY

The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) approved a Revolving Housing Loan Program, available in the Cleveland Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. redevelopment areas during the fiscal year 2020. The fund will be used exclusively to support developers who want to build housing targeting individuals that make 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or less. The loan incentive for affordable housing must be repaid within 24 months. Once repaid, the loans will continue to grow the trust fund in the project area.

 

ADVOCATE RADIATION ONCOLOGY PLANS SIXTH LOCATION IN NAPLES

Fort Myers-based Advocate Radiation Oncology plans to open its sixth location in Naples this year. The new local medical office is being built out in the long-vacant E.B.’s restaurant space near the intersection of Davis Boulevard and U.S. 41 East. The locally owned and operated radiation oncology practice launched two years ago in Southwest Florida with its first office in Port Charlotte. Other offices recently opened in Bonita Springs, Cape Coral and Fort Myers in Lee County and Tamarac in Broward County. ARO’s managing partners, many formerly with Fort Myers-based 21st Century Oncology, include Dr. Daniel Dosoretz; his son, Dr. Arie Dosoretz; and his daughter, Dr. Amy Fox. The Naples location is targeted to open in December at 1775 Davis Blvd. 

 

CRISP & GREEN RESTAURANT CHAIN COMING TO NAPLES AS PART OF FLORIDA EXPANSION

Crisp & Green fast-casual restaurant plans to launch a location in Naples this winter as part of a larger expansion into Florida, with a dozen locations expected in Orlando, Tampa and other markets. The fast-growing chain serves a menu of healthy, whole meals, including grain bowls, salads and smoothies. The Minnesota-based company recently announced a new hiring program offering benefits such as a $100,000-plus earning potential for managers at top-performing stores as well as compensation and incentives well above the industry standard. The specific timeline and location of the Naples location have not been announced. 

 

STEVENS CONSTRUCTION BEGINS CITY OF FORT MYERS FIRE STATION 17

Stevens Construction has started construction of Fire Station 17 for the City of Fort Myers. Located on 2.76 acres at 11000 Ben C. Pratt Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fire Station 17 is a 12,597-square-foot, two-story building with a 2,585-square-foot storage facility. The new station will house accommodations for on-duty firefighters, a physical fitness facility, community room and fire training facilities located interior of the apparatus bay with movable walls for various scenarios. Fire Station 17 will also include a kitchen, classrooms, decontamination room and on-site diesel and gasoline fuel distribution. Stevens Construction provided 12 months of preconstruction services, working closely with the City of Fort Myers and the design team to identify almost $500,000 in approved cost-savings suggestions. Fire Station 17 will be commemorated with the traditional uncoupling ceremony signifying the opening of the new facility in spring 2022. The Stevens Construction team includes project manager Alan Bennett, superintendent Jeff Hollis and project administrator Rebeccah Cabana. BSSW Architects is the architect of record.

 

Access Title Agency ribbon-cutting

ACCESS TITLE AGENCY OPENS BONITA SPRINGS OFFICE

Access Title Agency recently celebrated the grand opening of its Bonita Springs office with a ribbon-cutting coordinated by SWFL Inc. The office is located at 25341 Elementary Way, Suite 103, and will serve clients across Lee County. Access Title Agency is a full-service title agency that provides clients with title, escrow and closing services. The Bonita Springs office is its second location in Florida and its fourth in the nation. The Access Title Agency team includes President Karen L. Kohler and Randi Benge, manager of the Bonita Springs office, who has more than 22 years of title and escrow experience.

 

WILLIAM C. HUFF COS. HIRES GLOBAL OPERATIONS MANAGER

Naples-based William C. Huff Cos. has hired David Infantino as its global operations manager. The strategic hire of Infantino is designed to further enhance and scale William C. Huff’s white-glove moving, storage and handling processes. Infantino comes to William C. Huff with 17-plus years of logistical expertise from FedEx, where he served as senior manager and was part of three station expansions. He recently worked with Mobile Air Transport as director of operations, overseeing five facilities. He has 22-plus years of logistical experience.

 

CHARITABLE NOTES

 

Lipman Family Farms donates $20,000 to Taste of Immokalee

Lipman Family Farms, a locally invested and nationally recognized tomato grower, recently donated $20,000 to Taste of Immokalee, a student-run business that creates and markets locally sourced salsas and sauces and uses the profits to fund an entrepreneurship program for Immokalee High School students. Taste of Immokalee’s mission statement aligns with Lipman Family Farm’s philanthropic giving to combat food insecurity while supporting children and their education. In 2019, the company brought on a group of executives — including Jaime Weisinger, director of Lipman Family Farms — to the board to help with Taste of Immokalee’s next evolution of growth. Taste of Immokalee uses farm-fresh ingredients, including locally sourced tomatoes by Lipman Family Farms. 

 

Steve Becker and Ross Mlsna placed second in the two-person male relay category in the Swim Around Key West event on June 12.

Retired teacher’s Key West swim raises more than $16,000 for Immokalee Foundation scholarships

Retired Immokalee High School teacher Steve Becker raised more than $16,000 in support of The Immokalee Foundation during The College of Florida’s Swim Around Key West event. On June 12, Becker and his best friend from college, Ross Mlsna, swam more than 12 miles around the island to raise money to support scholarships for Immokalee Foundation students. It was Becker’s seventh time swimming to benefit the foundation’s students. Becker and Mlsna completed the swim in five hours and 20 minutes and placed second in the two-person male relay category. Becker’s original goal was to raise $5,000, and the total has already doubled. Longtime foundation supporters Don and Ellen O’Neill donated $5,000 to celebrate Becker’s Swim Around Key West achievement. The donations will be matched by the Florida Take Stock in Children program to benefit the foundation’s students. Becker has been an advocate for The Immokalee Foundation’s programs for more than 10 years as an instructor, mentor and fundraiser.

 

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno presents a check to Tommy and Katie Bohanon of the Tommy Bohanon Foundation to provide youth scholarships

Tommy Bohanon Foundation offers three $10,000 scholarships to SWFL youth

Thanks to a $30,000 donation from Sheriff Carmine Marceno and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LSCO), the Tommy Bohanon Foundation can continue to fulfill its mission of supporting young athletes on and off the playing field. This year, the Tommy Bohanon Foundation will award $10,000 scholarships to three high school seniors in Southwest Florida. The scholarships will allow these students to pursue continued education without financial restraint. Since 2018, Sheriff Marceno and the LCSO have been instrumental partners of the Tommy Bohanon Foundation. Last year, the LCSO’s contributions made it possible for the foundation to offer two $10,000 scholarships. The Tommy Bohanon Foundation has partnered with the Collaboratory to assist with the scholarship application and selection process. 

 

Conservancy of Southwest Florida accepting votes for Land Rover Defender award

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a finalist in the Animal Welfare category for the Land Rover Defender Above & Beyond Service Awards. The winner receives a Land Rover Defender, which would benefit the Conservancy’s von Arx Wildlife Hospital team in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing native Southwest Florida wildlife. Cast your vote here before the June 28 deadline. The public can vote up to once per day.

 

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