Lead Photo: Atlanta-based Mellow Mushroom has two other locations in Southwest Florida, one each in Fort Myers and Estero. (Credit: Mellow Mushroom, sourced from WINK News)
FEDERAL UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS ENDING FOR FLORIDIANS
On Saturday, the $300 federal unemployment benefit will end for Floridians. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced last month that it would end benefits near the end of June, joining 26 states that will no longer participate in the federal unemployment benefits. The hope is that cutting the additional benefits earlier than the September federal deadline will get more people back in the workforce. Florida’s unemployment rate is 4.9%. “The market today is saying we need to hire people, but we can’t because the unemployment benefits are too high. That’s why we want the return-to-work initiative to be understood,” says DEO Executive Director Dane Eagle.
Video courtesy of WINK News
SOME LOCAL ENTREPRENEURS GREW SMALL BUSINESSES DURING PANDEMIC
Starting a business during the pandemic sounds like a risky venture, but some entrepreneurs were able to build their businesses despite COVID-19. A makeup artist, a woman who makes bath products and a man who sells pads that drummers can practice on found a need and something they were passionate about and ran with it. These local ventures relied less on the actual idea, though, and more on the execution and a business strategy that includes not giving up during the difficult days. All these businesses started as ideas in the Florida Gulf Coast University Runway Program, which played a key role in their success, WINK News reports.
NCH WHITAKER WELLNESS CENTER OPENS
The newly redesigned NCH Whitaker Wellness Center in Green Tree Plaza in North Naples has opened. Originally opened in 2003 thanks to a donation from the Whitaker family, the NCH Whitaker Wellness Center is a 28,000-square-foot fitness facility that has been completely renovated. The new lobby, made possible by a gift from Burt and Ruth Holmes, is the first refreshed space to greet visitors and members coming into the Wellness Center. The facility also offers such features as expanded studio space for yoga, Pilates reformer, cycle and group exercise. The Wellness Center also features new saunas and steam rooms, whirlpools and massage services for members. A new NCH Employee Medical Clinic has also opened next door, and the neighboring NCH Outpatient Rehabilitation Center was refreshed as part of the revitalization project. Access to the Whitaker Wellness Center is free to the public until June 30. For more information, call 239-624-6870.
CALABRIA PIZZA-GYROS OPENS AT BAY CROSSINGS IN BONITA SPRINGS
Calabria Pizza-Gyros had its grand opening Friday in Bay Crossings retail center on the east side of U.S. 41 across from Bonita Bay in Bonita Springs. The new restaurant’s space formerly was home to 9 Thai-Sushi and Thai Star before they relocated to Estero and south Fort Myers, respectively. Named for the southern region of Italy, Calabria features a marriage of Italian and Greek cuisine. Calabria, 26251 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 5, is open noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays. The 35-seat restaurant offers dine-in, carryout and delivery service. For more information call 239-676-7243.
MELLOW MUSHROOM RESTAURANT COMING TO CAPE CORAL
A new restaurant is coming to the growing Pine Island Road corridor of Cape Coral. Mellow Mushroom will open at 53 NE Pine Island Road, just east of Santa Barbara Boulevard and as part of Gator Mike’s Family Fun Park, WINK News reports. The Atlanta-based restaurant has two other locations in Southwest Florida, one each in Fort Myers and Estero. Homegrown Industries of Georgia, dba Mellow Mushroom, signed a franchise agreement with Basil 4 LLC, for the Cape location. Each Mellow Mushroom is unique in its design and décor and frequently captures unique aspects of the local community. The cornerstone of the Mellow Mushroom menu is stone-baked pizza featuring a crust made from five simple ingredients, including water from Appalachian Mountain springs. Other menu highlights are freshly made salads, handcrafted cocktails and a wide selection of beers, many of them local.
REFUGE RECEIVES $75K FOR INVASIVE PLANT MANAGEMENT
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has awarded the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) $75,000 in funding on behalf of the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Society on Sanibel Island. The refuge will use the monies for invasive plant management at the upland portion of the new 68-acre Lee Anne Tauck Conservation Tract. In partnership with Lee County Conservation 20/20, DDWS raised $9.5 million to acquire the tract, the largest remaining parcel of undeveloped land on Sanibel Island, in 2019. Last year, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation awarded $5.309 million to the refuge to further plans for restoring the tract’s wetlands. Cathy Olson, formerly of Lee County Conservation 20/20 and now part of Pennoni Associates Inc., is helping refuge staff with the requirement to complete the invasive species removal project within a year, as required by the FWC. Currently, the team is seeking bids for the work.
HOLE MONTES COMPLETES YELLOWBIRD STREET IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Hole Montes has completed a series of street, traffic-calming and utility improvements to Yellowbird Street on Marco Island that make the roadway safer for motorists, pedestrians and residents while providing utility service into the future, the company says. Defined as a local connector road, Yellowbird Street stretches three-fourths of a mile from North Collier Boulevard to Bald Eagle Drive. Hole Montes designed the replacement and widening of the existing 20-foot-wide, two-lane road into a 24-foot-wide thoroughfare, adding paved shoulders that serve as bike paths. Additionally, the design included new water and sewer lines, improved the drainage system and updated concrete sidewalks to meet Americans with Disabilities Act compliance standards. Hole Montes also designed traffic calming devices, including mid-block side islands and a mini-roundabout. The City of Marco Island awarded Hole Montes the Yellowbird Street design contract in 2016. Construction began in April 2020 and finished a year later.
NOISE INC. PROMOTES SHERWOOD TO VP AND INTERACTIVE DIRECTOR
Noise Inc. has promoted Brandon Sherwood to vice president and interactive director. Sherwood has served as interactive director at NOISE Inc. since 2018, responsible for web design, web programming, search engine optimization, data building campaigns and E-CRM. Sherwood graduated Rasmussen College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in game and simulation programming. He has designed and programmed more than 30 brand websites and is experienced in WordPress, website foundational design, business-scale IT management, web server management and more.
ZIMMER NAMED CHARLOTTE COUNTY IMAGINATION LIBRARY MANAGING DIRECTOR
Longtime Charlotte County educator Christine “Chris” Zimmer has been named managing director of the nonprofit Charlotte County Imagination Library (CCIL). She has been a member of the CCIL Advisory Council since 2012. The Charlotte County Imagination Library is an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which mails one free, age-appropriate book to registered children each month until the child’s 5th birthday. All children under age 5 are eligible to be registered at no cost. Zimmer’s new, part-time position was created by CCIL Founder Shawn Gilstad and Charlotte Players Executive Director Sherrie Moody. Gilstad and Moody joined forces when the CCIL was launched in 2011. The CCIL is part of a collaboration with the Punta Gorda Symphony, Charlotte Community Foundation, Charlotte County Government and several other groups participating in “Arts in the Park” events for families this summer. Additionally, Carmel Kisiday, director of preschool and elementary learning for Charlotte County Public Schools is the newest member of the CCIL Advisory Council.
LEE COUNTY DOMESTIC ANIMAL SERVICES CELEBRATES RED, WHITE AND BLUE PETS
Lee County Domestic Animal Services will celebrate July with red, white and blue pets. Throughout July, adult dogs and cats are designated “Red” and may be adopted for $10; puppies and small-breed dogs are designated “White” and may be adopted for $40; and kittens, “Blue,” may be adopted for $20. Cats and kittens are also two for the price of one. Although fees are reduced, the adoption package includes spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, health checks, microchip ID, flea treatment and deworming. Adoptions are available 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the shelter, 5600 Banner Drive, Fort Myers. The adoption center is closed Monday, July 5, in observance of Independence Day.
Dress for Success SW Florida announces signature fundraiser
Dress for Success SW Florida announces its signature fundraiser, “A REcycled Night Through the Decades,” from 6-10 p.m. on Aug. 27 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. The event features 17 local designers showcasing ensembles crafted from bags of recycled clothing and accessories donated to Dress for Success SW Florida, which are deemed not appropriate for the workplace. A panel of judges will select first, second and third place winners with the top designer taking home $650. Money raised from this annual event will help support programs that are offered free to women in Lee, Collier and Hendry counties. To purchase tickets, contact Nickole Hendra at 239-689-4992 or click here.
Youth Haven Inc. announces Christmas in July donation opportunities
Naples-based Youth Haven Inc. will host a Christmas in July event for its children and teen residents. Youth Haven is seeking community support to purchase the new gifts that will be presented during the special event. Businesses and individuals can help in the following ways: hosting a Christmas in July donation drive with a drop-off to Youth Haven by July 19; purchase an item from Youth Haven’s Amazon wish list; or donate supplies and batteries for the gifts. Youth Haven is only accepting new, used and unwrapped gifts that are not scary or violent in nature. For more information, contact Laura Lafakis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Youth Haven serves as Southwest Florida’s only emergency and residential shelter for boys and girls ages 6-19 removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, abandonment or homelessness, the organization states.
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