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Gulfshore Business Daily: May 1

Mike Parsons. Photo by Brian Tietz courtesy of FGCU


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has named Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) marine science professor Mike Parsons to the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Parsons is one of five researchers on the panel, joining scientists from the University of Florida, Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University and the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce. DeSantis originally called for the response team in an executive order he signed during a visit to FGCU’s Vester Field Station on Jan. 10. According to the order, the task force is “charged with focusing on expediting progress toward reducing the adverse impacts of blue-green algae blooms now and over the next five years.”


Lee BIA Builders Care was honored with the Senator’s Pride of Florida Award for the nonprofit organization’s longstanding commitment to provide quality housing for elderly and disabled residents in Southwest Florida. Florida Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Fort Myers) and Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) joined Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) in presenting the award to Lee BIA Builders Care, the nonprofit charitable arm of the Lee Building Industry Association (BIA). Accepting the award were Lee BIA Builders Care Executive Director Becky Swift, Director of Client Services and Projects Mandi Wray, Board of Directors President Dan Beiter and Board of Directors Member Michael Reitmann.


The Membership Directors’ Association of Southwest Florida (MDASF) will host a half-day seminar on May 29 at Grey Oaks Country Club. Guest speaker Kelly Townsend, Townsend Consulting Group, will present “The Key Ingredient: How to Increase Productivity While Relieving Stress.” The registration fee is $60 per person which includes both breakfast and lunch at Grey Oaks Country Club. This event is open to the public, and pre-registration is required. To register or for more details, email info@mdasf.com or visit www.mdasf.com.


SCORE Naples will host “Finding the Right Franchise to Buy” from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on June 19 at the Naples Accelerator. This two-hour presentation will describe the right way and the wrong way to select a franchise to buy. The workshop is for anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur now or in the future. Rick Shampaine will present the lecture. Shampaine has been in the franchise industry for more than 37 years. During that time, he has helped more than 1,000 individuals become franchise owners. He has been vice president of FranNet, an international franchise consulting firm, and has had a distinguished career as an attorney. The event is $30 when registering online. For registration and to make payment, go to scorenaples.org or call (239) 430-0081.

Christleen Knaub


The Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce has appointed Christleen Knaub as event coordinator. Knaub will plan and manage events for both the Bonita Springs Area Chamber and its Young Professionals group and will run its Impact SWFL leadership program. Knaub is a Southwest Florida native who spent more than four years at the American Cancer Society as its community development manager for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay For Life.

Debra Orringer


Naples Soap Co. has hired Debra Orringer as company wellness director. In this new role, Orringer will be responsible for helping to improve the overall wellbeing of employees through motivational training, stress-management tactics, exercise incentives and healthy eating education. Externally, Orringer will provide wellness education through company blog posts, newsletters, social media channels and speaking opportunities. Orringer holds a Master of Science degree in clinical exercise physiology from the University of Florida and bachelor’s degree in social sciences from Binghamton University. She received post-graduate training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is accredited through the American Council on Exercise as a Medical Exercise Specialist as well as the American College of Sports Medicine.

Marco’s Pizza opens in Lehigh Acres


National pizza brand Marco’s Pizza opened on April 29 at 4316 Lee Blvd., Unit 2, in Lehigh Acres. The Marco’s Pizza location is owned and operated by local entrepreneur Ripudamam Rattan. With more than 13 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Rattan opened his first Marco’s Pizza in 2014 in Cape Coral. The newest location is his second to open in Lehigh Acres and his third Marco’s Pizza in South Florida with plans for future expansion in the area. The menu at Marco’s Pizza in Lehigh Acres features a mix of classic pizzas and specialty pizzas, along with subs and a variety of salads with croutons made daily. Carryout, delivery, dine-in and online ordering services are available.


Kosmas Ballis, co-owner of KAJ Gallery, was the sole judge of the second bi-annual Naples Fine Art Show, held March 30-31 at the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt. Ballis is an accomplished ceramicist who attended the Kansas City Art Institute and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University. Ballis won the gold prize for ceramics at the 2016 Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, which allowed him to spend nine months working with various museums throughout Asia. The following artists received awards at the Naples Fine Art Show: Best of Show: Selma Karaca and Russ Schmidt; Awards of Excellence: Fisun Onomay, Terri Cadman and Martha Cummins, Charles Strain, Sue Ayala and Christopher Buonomo; and Awards of Distinction: Zaki, Antwerp, Mick Fortney, Ben Foster, Svetlana Kuznets, Ricky Lowe, Sanjib Mallik, Jaochim McMillan, Peggy Miller, Carmen Possobon, and Xiao Xia Zhang Minich and Li Wen.


The Community Foundation of Collier County distributes nearly $5.5 million for Give Where You Live Collier

The Community Foundation of Collier County distributed $5.43 million in checks to the 40 nonprofits that participated in the 2019 Give Where You Live Collier event at a post-event meeting held at the Community Foundation on April 23. Each nonprofit’s check included matching grant amounts from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and the Community Foundation. The fifth anniversary of Give Where You Live Collier generated 2,744 donations, including 1,394 made online. Online donation amounts rose 26 percent this year totaling $663,507 compared with $527,501 in 2018. The majority of online gifts were made by donors’ age 65 years and older, making 28 percent of gifts, out-donating younger age groups by about 10 percent.  Female donors made 64 percent of online gifts. For more information, visit cfcollier.org.

Gigi Bachmann, founder and CEO of Gigi Clean

Gigi Clean offers free house detailing for cancer patients

Gigi Clean has joined with nonprofit organization Cleaning For a Reason to offer free house detailing to Southwest Florida residents who are experiencing cancer. Cleaning For a Reason is an international organization serving cancer patients by offering free house cleanings. Gigi Clean joins more than 1,200 residential cleaners throughout the U.S. and Canada that have donated more than $11 million in services and helped more than 34,000 cancer patients since 2006. Gigi Clean, which uses only non-toxic cleaning products,  has committed to helping Southwest Florida cancer patients by detailing two homes per month for two consecutive months free of charge. To apply for free house cleaning, patients and their caregivers can visit Cleaningforareason.org.

Dentist collects 1,138 pounds of food for Harry Chapin Food Bank

 Pediatric Dentistry of Florida collected 1,138 pounds of food for the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida during its third annual touch-a-truck event on April 27. This equates to 900 meals additional meals the food bank will be able to serve the Southwest Florida community. Pediatric Dentistry of Florida, Dr. Tim Verwest, DMD & Associates is celebrating its 27th anniversary this year and provides a full complement of pediatric dental care to children throughout Southwest Florida. For more information, visit www.DrVerwest.com.

ROOF receives $15,000 grant from 2019 Angel Fund

The Community Foundation of Collier County’s Angel Fund has awarded Residential Options of Florida (ROOF) a $15,000 grant this year. These funds will directly support ROOF’s  initiatives to provide supported living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This year’s award will help ROOF provide service coordination for its residents in Collier County. ROOF recently opened two supported living homes in Immokalee known as Liberty Place and Independence Place, and ROOF is already working on a project to develop its next home to be located in Naples. For more information, visit http://flroof.org/.

Dr. Massoud Eghrari and Tayebeh Eghrari awarded “fun money” scholarships to first-year college students from The Immokalee Foundation.

The Immokalee Foundation students receive “fun money” scholarships

Dr. Massoud Eghrari of Naples once again provided “fun money” scholarships to first-year college students enrolled in The Immokalee Foundation’s programs who completed an application with general information and an essay about what they would do with the money if they received it. In the spirit of the award, the students are required to spend the money on themselves, rather than others. In addition to supporting The Immokalee Foundation through academic scholarships, Eghrari and his late wife, Isabella, have also offered these no-strings-attached awards of $500 each for students to spend however they wish. For more information, visit https://immokaleefoundation.org.

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