Gulfshore Business Daily: November 19

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Lead Photo: Sourced from WINK News



Lee County commissioners on Tuesday approved the use of E-ZPass transponders on Lee County’s toll bridges. The E-ZPass toll network includes 18 states throughout the Northeast and Midwest. The agreement would allow people who already have those transponders to use them on Lee County toll bridges, WINK News reports. The agreement that allows the use of E-ZPass in Lee County is with the Central Florida Expressway, which joined the E-ZPass group in 2018. The Central Florida Expressway would process transactions with no transaction fees charged to the county. The transponders will be accepted locally starting early next year. Local drivers also can continue to use LeeWay and SunPass transponders. For more information about Lee County toll programs, go to

Video courtesy of WINK News


City Councilman Fred Burson of Ward 5 in Fort Myers led the discussion about saving the City of Palms Park from demolition at a recent council meeting. Burson’s motion to have bids put out for planners to look at uses for the park was approved by the council, so the city manager will work on gathering bids from planners in the next month, WINK News reports. Council voted in September to regain possession of the park but only if Lee County paid to tear it down. The park once hosted the Boston Red Sox but has not hosted a Major League team in nearly a decade. City Council voted to demolish the park with the intention of using that land as part of its Midtown Redevelopment Plan, but Burson feels it should be utilized to host amateur sports because sports tourism brings in a significant amount of hotel revenue.

Video courtesy of WINK News


Neighbors are concerned about plans to create a yard waste recycling center creating traffic in their quiet part of Collier County. The neighborhood is on Riggs Road, just off Tamiami Trail East between 951 and San Marco Road in south Naples. Richdale Recycling had asked to do concrete recycling and incinerating on that property but after public outcry, the county said they settled on doing yard waste recycling of branches and clippings. Neighbors who see the proposal as a dump are worried about traffic and environmental issues. A representative for Richdale Recycling says it’s all a misunderstanding. The Collier County Planning Commission is slated to discuss the recycling center project at its meeting today. Many of those in this rural neighborhood plan to attend, WINK News reports.


Marquesa Capital Partners continues to energize the Alico corridor through its $2.24 million, 16-acre acquisition of The Commons at Esplanade. The southwest corner of Alico Road and Esplanade Boulevard will soon welcome Southwest’s Florida exploratory “Build-To-Rent” (BTR) with up to 140 units. “Build-to-Rent is an entire community of single-family residences and/or villas in a highly-amenitized, rentable community,” said LandQwest Senior Associate Brett Low. “They essentially offer all the perks of a professionally managed, home-owned, community, but without the burden of a mortgage, association dues, or ownership expenses.” Low represented the seller, Alico East Fund, LLC. This leaves just three outparcels at The Commons at Esplanade, where entitled uses span across hospitality, medical/dental, health/fitness, restaurant, and retail. For details, click here.

FGCU front entrance


Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is the top public college or university in Florida for undergraduate entrepreneurship studies, according to The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. Coming in at No. 29 out of more than 300 schools, FGCU ranked higher than entrepreneurship undergraduate programs at DePaul University, Florida State University, the University of St. Thomas and Syracuse University, among others. Since its founding four years ago, FGCU’s entrepreneurship program has grown exponentially. Its mission is to infuse entrepreneurial spirit throughout the university with an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship major and minor. These are the fastest-growing degrees on campus with 2,793 students enrolled this past year in entrepreneurship classes. For the full list, click here. For more information about the FGCU Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship, visit


Where does one find dwarf pine cone syrup, truffle burrata cheese or Sicilian pistachio spread? How about Parmigiano aged 36 months, balsamic vinegar aged 12 to 15 years, or Modica Chocolate cold-pressed in Sicily? Ambrosi & Sons is a one-stop shop for these items and many other specialty products. The off-the-beaten-path business launched in October inside an East Naples industrial park. The local store features the best small-batch, top-of-the-line Italian chocolate, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as pasta, tomatoes, marinara sauce and soups, owner Rudy Ambrosi said. “Basically, our product line has been curated by us and we’re finding the most exotic and exclusive best products from Italy, the hard to find and the best of the best,” says Ambrosi, who has owned and operated Pro-Edge Paper there since 1998. Ambrosi’s son Alex runs Pro-Edge Paper, a wholesale company supplying paper products to places such as restaurants, schools and country clubs, while son Michael sources products imported from Italy for Ambrosi & Sons, a next-generation business expanding upon what previously had been focused on offering Sclafani imported Italian gourmet food products. For the full story, click here.


Opulent Lighting & Design has moved into a larger Bonita Springs space to accommodate the company’s growth in Southwest Florida. The new 8,000-plus-square-foot office is located at 12620 Trade Center Drive, Bonita Springs. “Opulent has been expanding exponentially in Southwest Florida with lighting and design. In our continued growth, we have added new team members and focus on tradeshows, luxury rentals, and hosting virtual and in-person events at the new space,” said owner Gina Sherrill. The company now offers rental space to host webinars, conferences, seminars, luncheons, and networking events. It can host up to 110 guests but is limited to 50 to promote social distancing at this time. For more information, click here.



Jessy LaPaglia

LaPaglia chosen by TravelAge West as top travel professional

Preferred Travel of Naples Luxury Travel Advisor Jessy LaPaglia was chosen as a top travel professional by TravelAge West to participate in their 2020 Future Leaders in Travel program. Travel advisors selected to participate in the leadership program are between the ages of 22 and 37. Selected advisors were invited to an exclusive meeting, and the two-and-a-half-day virtual event focused on professional development topics and provided insight on how this generation will influence the recovery and future of the travel industry. The virtual retreat organizer was TravelAge West. LaPaglia has been part of the Preferred Travel team since 2018. Originally from Pennsylvania, she relocated to Naples in 2012 and holds a BA in Sales and Marketing from The Pennsylvania State University.

Granda joins GATES Construction as assistant project manager

GATES Construction has added Amber Granda as assistant project manager. Granda will assist in overall project coordination from the pre-construction stage and permitting through to owner occupancy. She has more than 11 years of construction experience with a wide variety of project types, such as healthcare, hospitality, retail, and corporate, including Amazon and Google headquarters improvement projects. Based out of GATES Construction’s headquarters in Bonita Springs, Granda is currently working on The Apartments at Isle of Porta Vista and The Flamingo Cottages at Everglades National Park.

Rebecca Centeno

Fishermen’s Village hires vice president of PG Hospitality

Fishermen’s Village has hired Rebecca Centeno as vice president of PG Hospitality. Centeno was born into the field of hospitality and has had Punta Gorda as her stomping grounds since the 1980s. She has operated two major franchise hotels in Charlotte County. Most recently, she was a general manager overseeing 180 rooms in Charlotte County. 



Collier County awarded $500,000 federal grant to enhance Drug Court program

David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) announced that through a Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) three-year federal grant, Collier County Community and Human Services received $500,000 for the Collier County Drug Court program. The funds were made possible through the BJA Adult Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Court Discretionary Grant Program which provides financial and technical assistance to states, state courts, local courts, units of local government and tribal governments to develop, implement and enhance Drug Courts and Veterans Treatment Courts. Since 1999, Collier County has partnered with DLC, in collaboration with the 20th Judicial Circuit State’s Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office, Florida Department of Corrections, Circuit Court, Office of Court Administration, and Collier County Sheriff’s Office, to implement the Collier Drug Court program. 

Partners for Breast Cancer Care Inc. receives $25,000 donation

Partners for Breast Cancer Care Inc. has received a $25,000 donation from From Our Hearts Inc. of Pine Island. The funding will provide breast screening, diagnostic testing, surgery and treatment to uninsured, low-income residents in the five-zip-code area of Pine Island.

Midwest Food Bank, Florida gives more than 2,200 turkeys for Thanksgiving

The Midwest Food Bank, Florida warehouse has been working over the last two weeks to distribute over 2,200 turkeys to the community for the Thanksgiving season. The food bank donated turkeys to nonprofit partner agency St. Matthews House, St. Vincent de Paul Church, Tice United Methodist Church, Iglesia el Evangelio de Cristo and The Salvation Army, in addition to 12 other nonprofit partner agencies. Midwest Food Bank, Florida supports more than169 partner agencies in 32 counties in Florida. For more information, click here.
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