Gulfshore Business Daily: May 21

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Video courtesy of WINK News


Lee County this week approved a spending plan for $57.5 million in CARES Act federal stimulus package funds. County leaders earmarked $25 million to help kickstart small businesses in the area through the Lee CARES Small Business Relaunch program. While the money has been approved, the web portal is not yet up and running. Officials say it should be functioning by next Tuesday and they will begin taking applications. The county plans $22 million to help individuals who have been unemployed because of the pandemic to continue to make monthly rent and mortgage payments. There is a maximum of $2,000 per household. This money is expected to assist around 10,000 Lee County households. Also, $3.5 million will go toward child care. The county is partnering with local organizations such as the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, and the United Way to provide scholarships and assistance programs to qualifying families. For more information on these programs, go to and see this WINK News report.


Testing every Florida nursing home resident and staff member for COVID-19 once would cost $25.3 million, according to a state-by-state breakdown provided by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), which used census data and the estimated cost of $150 per test to conduct results. Testing every U.S. nursing home resident and staff once would cost an average of $440 million, the report shows. The results do not include the cost of testing for assisted living or other long-term care facilities. For the full results, click here.


Meetings of the Collier County Planning Commission will resume at 9 a.m. June 11. The CCPC will meet again at 9 a.m. June 16. Regular scheduling of meetings for the first and third Thursday of the month will then continue. As part of an ongoing initiative to promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the public will have the opportunity to provide public comments remotely, as well as in-person, during the Planning Commission meeting on June 11. CCPC agendas are available on the Collier County Government website about six days before each CCPC meeting here.

Video courtesy of WINK News


A University of Florida study looking at COVID-19’s economic impact on the state’s agriculture, aquaculture and the marine industries shows how the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are far-reaching. “One-hundred percent of the respondents indicated that their revenue decreased,” says Dr. Andrew Ropicki, assistant professor of marine economics with UF/IFAS. The pandemic hit during prime time for many growers in agriculture, but business closures were reported at higher rates across charter and commercial fishing industries than other sectors. The survey will be a baseline as the situation around COVID-19 evolves. The expectation is to conduct another survey this summer and in the future, if businesses continue to feel an impact, WINK News reports.


The Nordstrom Rack store at Mercato in North Naples reopens today after being closed for many weeks because of the coronavirus response. Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores are reopening throughout Florida today. Nordstrom, however, is closing 16 full-line stores, which includes the store at Waterside Shops in Naples.


Venue Naples has officially reopened for small gatherings. The event space has been closed since March, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but has recently gotten permission to reopen its doors as part of the next phase of Governor DeSantis’ reopening of Florida plan. The fully customizable event space is home to many events, ranging from social galas and birthday parties to wedding receptions, corporate events and more. The Venue Naples team, led by Brian and Nicole Roland, emphasizes that they are following strict protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of their guests. The event center is available for bookings. Venue Naples will kick off the reopening with an event on May 29. featuring celebrity musician Matty Jollie. The event will feature a three-course dinner, glass of wine and entertainment while maintaining social distancing procedures. Tickets can be purchased at

Shikha Shrestha, M.D.


Dr. Shikha Shrestha has joined Physicians’ Primary Care of Southwest Florida as an internal medicine physician. Shrestha earned her medical degree from De La Salle University College of Medicine in the Philippines. She served her residency in internal medicine at the Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Physicians’ Primary Care, she worked as a hospitalist at Southwest Florida hospitals.  She is fluent in English, Nepalese (Nepal), and Tagalog (Philippines). Shrestha will see patients at the Lehigh Acres office of Physicians’ Primary Care at 5700 Lee Boulevard.

Shay S. Raja


Woodward, Pires & Lombardo P.A. has welcomed a new attorney, Shay S. Raja. Raja specializes in real estate law and business law. Graduating from the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill in 2016, Raja is a member of the Florida Bar and the District of Columbia Bar and previously worked with Woodward, Pires & Lombardo P.A. as a summer associate in 2015 before serving as an attorney-academic account manager in Seattle, Washington. Raja is fluent in Urdu and proficient in French.


Neal Communities has announced the close-out of two Fort Myers communities, Watermark and Coconut Cove. Watermark, a 106-acre community with lakes and preserves, has approximately 300 residences, a mix of single-family homes and villas. The 11 floorplans range from 1,434 to 3,346 square feet with sale prices from the $200s. Watermark includes amenities such as a pool, spa, fitness center, fire pit, dog park, playground, sporting courts and a flex field. Watermark is located off of Challenger Boulevard.Coconut Cove is a 10-acre gated community located off of U.S. 41 and Pine Road. The community’s 47 total homes were built in a variety of seven floorplan options that range in size from 1,812 to 2,912 square feet. Many of the homes offer lake and preserve views. Coconut Cove is located close to area beaches, shopping and dining. Residents at Coconut Cove enjoy no CDD fees in the gated, maintenance-included community. Neal Communities is currently building eight new developments in the Naples and Fort Myers region. Two additional communities, Cypress Walk in Fort Myers and Avalon in Naples, are also nearing close-out.

The Big Backpack Event will return in summer.


The annual Big Backpack Event set for July

The Multicultural Centre of Southwest Florida will present the 21st annual Big Backpack Event for Lee County school children from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 26 at the Fort Myers Skatium located at 2250 Broadway. In an effort to maintain social distancing, families will remain in their vehicles as they approach the Skatium and are greeted by the sights and sounds of live music and street performers to celebrate back-to-school. Children must accompany parents or guardians in the vehicle in order for them to receive a backpack. Each vehicle will be directed by volunteers to slowly drive-by to pickup new backpacks, essential school supplies, snacks, and other curbside giveaways. In all, 2,000 new backpacks will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.For more information about the event, sponsorship or to become a volunteer, visit or email

Guadalupe Center receives $25,000 grant from Suncoast Credit Union to help Immokalee families, students

Suncoast Credit Union has awarded a $25,000 matching grant to Guadalupe Center as the nonprofit continues providing Immokalee families with access to high-quality education programs. To maximize the impact of Suncoast Credit Union’s grant, Guadalupe Center is launching a Phone-A-Thon campaign that will help offset Early Childhood Education Program weekly fees for parents facing extreme economic hardships. Donations also will help upgrade essential technology as students continue their academic progress through virtual learning. Although Guadalupe Center was able to hold its annual signature fundraising event, Be Flamazing, it was forced to cancel the Guadalupe Charity Golf Classic and Tutor Corps Celebration Dinner to comply with social distancing regulations. Nearly two-thirds of Guadalupe Center’s annual budget derives from fundraising campaigns and events. Suncoast Credit Union announced in early May that it would contribute $1 million to provide economic relief to those impacted by COVID-19 in communities served by the credit union—the first of its size in Suncoast Credit Union’s 86-year history.

Fun Time receives $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Collier County

Fun Time Early Childhood Academy (FTA) has received a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Collier County’s Latchkey League Fund. These funds will support all aspects of programming for FTA. As an early learning academy for children of low-income families, each year FTA has a deficit created by the amount that each pays versus the amount it actually costs for each student. On average the weekly parent co-pay is $45, whereas the actual cost to educate each child per week is $320. These Community Foundation grant funds will help cover all aspects of programming, including the cost of curriculum, supplies, technological purchases, uniforms, and meals. The Community Foundation of Collier County awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process. Selected organizations receive grant dollars from the Changing Needs Fund.

Community Foundation of Collier County supports Captains For Clean Water

The Community Foundation of Collier County has provided the Captains For Clean Water (CFCW) Fishing Guide Relief Fund with a $7,500 grant to help boat captains who have been affected by COVID-19. The pandemic has caused many captains to lose the majority of the seasonal business they rely on to support their families throughout the year. The CFCW Fishing Guide Relief Fund will be used to book Florida fishing guides over the next few months to take their families out and conduct waterway clean-ups. This grant will have the dual benefit of beautifying our coastlines and supporting small Collier County water-based businesses. Donations can be made at or sent via check directly to Captains For Clean Water at PO Box 1653, Fort Myers, FL 33902. Please indicate “Guide Relief Fund” in the memo line. 100% of funds go directly to guides and their families. Impacted guides can also sign-up to participate on the website.

Panda Express feeds frontline staff at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida

Panda Express has donated 200 lunches to Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to help those treating the youngest members of our community. Panda Express has a philanthropic arm, Panda Cares, powered by the funds raised by Panda guests and associates to further help the community. As a long-time corporate partner of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Panda has raised and donated over $85 million to support them.

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