Gulfshore Business Daily: March 25

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Lead Photo: Bella Jade Boutique in Naples celebrates its grand opening Saturday. Details below.

 

SWFL HOME HEALTH COMPANY WORKS TO VACCINATE HOMEBOUND SENIORS

People who have mobility issues or those who are immunocompromised cannot safely leave the house, and many more cannot figure out the state’s complicated system to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments. After months of working tirelessly every day to get doses of the vaccine for homebound seniors and other patients, a Southwest Florida home health company finally got its hands on some shots, a critical need that many say has been overlooked. In just three days, BrightStar Care has vaccinated more than 300 seniors and plans to do a lot more. Email HomeboundVaccine@em.myflorida.com to register for shots or for more information or reach the state’s COVID-19 Call Center at (866) 779-6121 for assistance, WINK News reports.

 

REPORT: NAPLES HOME SALES UP IN FEBRUARY

Overall closed sales of existing homes in Naples for February increased 62% to 1,307 closed sales from 807 closed sales in February 2020, according to the February 2021 Market Report, released by the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR), which tracks home listings and sales within Collier County (excluding Marco Island). Inventory fell 68.8% in February to 2,224 homes from 7,127 homes in February 2020. The condominium market experienced a 75.7% increase in closed sales and a 66.6% decrease in inventory. In fact, condominium sales in February 2021 eclipsed its comparable sales in any month over the past 15 years. View the entire report here.

 

VERIZON CUSTOMERS SAY REMOVED CELL TOWER CAUSING DEAD SPOTS IN COLLIER COUNTY

Verizon Wireless says it’s offering a solution for customers living in northern Collier County, where there have been complaints of dropped calls, delayed service and simply a dead spot for thousands of cell phone users. People blame the poor service they have experienced on a lack of a permanent Verizon cell tower at the intersection of Collier Boulevard and Immokalee Road. Verizon says it put up a new, taller temporary cell tower a few days ago in response to concerns of network degradation. Verizon says the work to remove the original cell tower at the site started in 2019, and it has had a temporary cell tower on wheels since then. Verizon expects a permanent tower to be completed within a year, WINK News reports.

 

LA SANTA TACOS & TEQUILAS COMING SOON TO NORTH NAPLES 

La Santa Tacos & Tequilas is coming soon to the former space of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop in North Naples. Offering a menu of traditional and modern Mexican cuisine made from scratch and an indoor-outdoor full bar, La Santa is co-owned by Pedro Aguirre, who is launching his second location of the upscale, casual dining concept here. Aguirre opened his first La Santa three years ago in a former Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. Although a target opening date has not been announced yet, La Santa is moving into the 4,796-square-foot space where Fuzzy’s closed last March after operating for more than three years in the retail center anchored by SuperTarget at 2405 Tarpon Bay Blvd., off Immokalee Road just east of Interstate 75. 

 

COVENANT CHURCH OF NAPLES EXPANDING ITS CAMPUS 

Covenant Church of Naples is building the third phase of its campus expansion at 6926 Trail Blvd. in North Naples. The new wing to the northern end of the church will be a mirror image of the Fellowship Hall the church added to the southern end of its worship center in 2014. The expansion will serve as a children and students center, which has outgrown the church’s existing space. Another administration building under construction will provide new office space for the local church, which was founded as Covenant Presbyterian in 1965. The expansion project, expected to be completed by the end of the year, is being undertaken by DeAngelis Diamond, David Corban Architects and Noller Design Group. 

 

GOODWILL STORE IN NAPLES NEARS COMPLETION*

Designed by MK Architecture, Faller Development’s newest 36,000 square foot Goodwill store in Naples is nearing completion. This facility was built by GLR Inc. and is located within Egret’s Crossing at the corner of Davis Boulevard and Santa Barbara Boulevard in Naples. Construction at the site is scheduled to be completed within the next few weeks with a grand opening to follow. MK Architecture is an award-winning architectural firm headquartered in Fort Myers.

 

BELLA JADE BOUTIQUE CELEBRATING GRAND OPENING IN NAPLES 

Bella Jade Boutique in Naples is celebrating its grand opening Saturday. The women’s clothing store actually opened last March, but the pandemic forced it to close soon after. Although the local shop reopened in November, the time just didn’t feel right for an opening celebration until now. Everything will be 25% off and free gifts and prizes will be presented from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 27, at the store, 1410 Pine Ridge Road, unit 7. It’s in Goodlette Corners retail center on the southwest corner of Goodlette-Frank and Pine Ridge roads. The store is operated by Molly and Jason Zientarski who relocated to North Naples three years ago from the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, Illinois. They opened their online business first before launching a brick-and-mortar store with women’s clothing and accessories for all ages, sizes and body types., especially targeting fashion-focused moms. The family hosts frequent Facebook Live sales and offers their Bella Jade app on Apple and Android with inventory that changes constantly. “We ship more than 10,000 items a day out of the backroom,” Jason Zientarski says. “It’s really good quality but our price points are lower.” Bella, of course, means beautiful in Italian and Spanish, and Jade was created from the initials of the names of their three small children: June, Alan and Dylan. “It’s definitely a family business,” Zientarski says.

 

MILLENNIAL BREWING CO-OWNER LAUNCHES BEVERAGE COMPANY

Millennial Brewing Co. Co-owner Amber Cebull has launched a brand new non-alcoholic beverage company, Gather Beverage Co., specializing in herbal, CBD and therapeutic beverages. The debut CBD beverage, called Chill Out, seeks to elevate the standards for CBD beverages in the industry by offering a higher quality product with better ingredients that maximize the bioavailability of the CBD. The idea for the drink was brought about amidst pandemic shutdowns. The microbrewery was unable to sell alcohol, so they got their CBD license and began selling CBD beverages instead. Direct to consumer subscription deliveries are now available and multiple wholesale partners have begun to carry the product. It is expected to be available in many locations throughout the state by mid-April. 

 

SEAGATE DEVELOPMENT GROUP ANNOUNCES ALICO TRADE CENTER

Seagate Development Group has announced Alico Trade Center as the name for a 40-acre business park coming to Alico Road and I-75 in Fort Myers. Seagate owns and will develop the commercial land. Lee & Associates is handling design-build leasing and sales of the pad sites. The official name of the space comes just before Seagate breaks ground on Rice Insulation & Glass’ 35,000-square-foot facility. It will include offices, a reception area, a conference room, training and break rooms, workstations, a warehouse of insulation, glass, shower door and shelving materials, high-dock and grade-level doors, and 100 parking spaces. Seagate and Lee & Associates are also working with other to-be-announced businesses that would like to lease or purchase single-tenant, flex or industrial buildings in Alico Trade Center. The first freestanding building in Alico Trade Center is slated for completion in October, with all other owners’ and tenants’ projects to be completed on an ongoing basis.

 

FUTUREMAKERS COALITION TO HOST STRUCTURAL RACISM, IMPLICIT BIAS CONVERSATIONS

The FutureMakers Coalitions Equity Action Team will be hosting online conversations about how structural racism and implicit bias are impacting the region’s education and workforce outcomes. FutureMakers Coalition outcomes have demonstrated significant achievement gaps for Black and Latinx students of all ages and these online conversations are meant to help reduce these gaps. The events are free and open to the public. Upcoming conversations will be held from 1-3 p.m. on April 16 and 23. To register for the April 16 event, click here. To register for the April 23 event, click here. FutureMakers Coalitions’ goal is to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce by increasing the percentage of working-age adults that hold post-high school credentials to 55% by 2025. 

 

LEADERSHIP LEE COUNTY RESUMES PROGRAMMING

The Chamber of Southwest Florida has resumed Leadership Lee County with programming redesigned for safety in the pandemic. On March 19, class members spent the day in Immokalee immersed in the business of Florida agriculture. The morning began with demonstrations of cutting-edge technology in disease and weed management by the faculty and researchers at UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center. It continued with the class visiting a packing house and an orange grove to learn how produce is grown, harvested and distributed across the country. Leadership Lee County is a proactive series of retreats, seminars and site visits designed to expose current and emerging leaders to Southwest Florida’s greatest challenges and opportunities. New class forming this fall. For more information, click here or email chamberswf@gmail.com.

 

Erin McDonald

PREMIER SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY NAMES NEW MANAGING BROKER

Premier Sotheby’s International Realty has named Erin McDonald as the new managing broker of the company’s Bonita Springs, Sanibel and Captiva sales galleries. She succeeds Chris Maccarone, who has served in the role since 2017 until announcing her retirement last month. An experienced leader with two decades of success in the real estate industry, McDonald has extensive sales, marketing and leadership experience, most recently serving as managing broker for LIV Sotheby’s International Realty’s Cherry Creek office in Denver. A native of Philadelphia, she sold resort properties in the Colorado Rocky Mountains for 10-plus years before her passion for helping others grow in business ultimately drew her from sales to leadership.

 

Marie Chailosky

SPIRO & ASSOCIATES HIRES PUBLIC RELATIONS SPECIALIST

Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Brand Architecture has hired Marie Chailosky as the new public relations specialist. Chailosky will create public relations plans, press releases, and newsworthy stories for the clients of Spiro & Associates. Chailosky brings with her public relations and promotions experience from her time with Cumulus Media in Washington D.C., where she ran social media campaigns for two radio stations, wrote articles for the websites, and organized listener events. Chailosky was born in New York City but grew up in Columbus, Ohio. She received a journalism degree from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism, where she graduated as Top Student Leader of the Class of 2020, an honor typically given to only one student a year.

 

CHARITABLE NOTES
 

Dining for the STARs raises $1.2 million for STARability Foundation 

STARability Foundation’s premier virtual fundraising event, Dining for the STARs, was held on Feb. 27 and raised $1.2 million to support programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Event co-chairs Jennifer Haire and Rochelle Shucart created the idea of small dinners around town, and the night featured 19 dinners in private homes and restaurants as well as watch parties hosted by supporters near and far. A live, virtual program connected nearly 700 participants who took part in the evening’s success. The virtual event was led from Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club, where dinner hosts John and Carrie Cooney gathered with their guests. Rick Gallo served as auctioneer. Event sponsors included chef de cuisine/title sponsor Stofft Cooney Architects. The STARability Foundation exists to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by providing life-transforming opportunities that emphasize teamwork and connection to the community to build awareness and respect for their individual abilities. 

 

State Farm awards $60,000 grant to Florida Junior Achievement chapters

The Junior Achievement Florida Foundation has received a $60,000 grant from State Farm. The statewide initiative will support Junior Achievement learning experiences in eight localities throughout Florida, enabling thousands of young people to participate in JA’s nationally recognized financial literacy and work readiness learning experiences. Each JA area will use the support to advance learning experiences most needed in their region. Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida will provide the JA Personal Finance learning experience to high school students, educating young people on the relationship between today’s financial decisions and future financial freedom.

 

Real Estate Investment Society awards scholarships

The Real Estate Investment Society (REIS) has awarded the annual Paul Sands Memorial – REIS Scholarship to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) students Justin Fiorello, Cydnee Sims, and Tania Vega-Arreola. The scholarships provide $2,500 toward tuition and books. These scholars also receive honorary membership in REIS for one year and may attend meetings on a complimentary basis. The Paul Sands Memorial – REIS Scholarship is an endowed FGCU scholarship program, funded by REIS Scholarship Foundation, a not-for-profit, registered 501(c)3 corporation. Continuing contributions from REIS and the annual Paul Sands Memorial Slaw Dog Invitational Golf Tournament have increased and sustained the fund. 

 

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