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Gulfshore Business Daily: Oct. 12

Lead Photo:  Lara Zdanowicz and Jessica Stanfield (of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, hold backpacks provided to area students during the Back to School with the Blue event in July. Details below.


Following a weekend where Southwest Airlines canceled 1,800 flights across the country, some cancellations continued Monday at Southwest Florida International Airport, but about half of Southwest’s flights were on time, RSW flight data shows. Of Southwest’s 20 arrivals scheduled Monday to RSW, flights were canceled from Baltimore, Chicago, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Five other flights were delayed from Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Kansas City and Nashville. For Southwest’s 19 departing flights Monday, only two to Houston and Pittsburgh were canceled. Five flights were delayed. According to Southwest Airlines, the cancellations and delays were caused by a combination of air traffic control issues and weather challenges at Florida airports. 


Video courtesy of WINK News

A bus driver shortage is putting Lee County parents on edge and forcing workers to pick up the slack, so much slack that they’re fed up and say they deserve better pay. School bus drivers went before the Lee County school board last week to express their frustration. Drivers are taking on multiple routes because the district is still short about 100 bus drivers. Because of the extra work performed through the pandemic, drivers believe they deserve more than the $16.32 to $22.87 an hour pay range for Lee County bus drivers, according to the president of their union. This is on top of the fact that three Lee County school bus drivers have died of COVID-19 during this school year, WINK News reports.


Video courtesy of WINK News

Small businesses along a stretch of U.S. 41 in Fort Myers say a major road project on the highway has caused many headaches. Drivers are finding it difficult to enter or exit business properties, especially finding it impossible to make a left turn anywhere in the construction zone. Florida Department of Transportation started construction in 2018, and it won’t be done until 2022. Until the work is done, businesses say they’ll continue to pay a heavy price, WINK News reports


Suffolk is getting ready to begin vertical construction on Vi at Bentley Village’s latest multi-million dollar makeover to their resort-style senior living community in North Naples. The redevelopment project will update and expand the community’s skilled nursing facility, Bentley Care Center, and assisted living residences, while enhancing its care services with a new Center for Living Well. The project will increase the number of private one-bedroom apartments to 84 in assisted living. The renovated building will also retain 15 memory support apartments for residents who require an extra level of care. The 5,700-square-foot Center for Living Well will house support services, such as physical therapy, wellness and home health, and is designed for the needs of all residents. At the Bentley Care Center, resident rooms will get a makeover to enhance privacy. The new design will feature a total of 84 private rooms, all with private bathrooms. This is a continuation of Suffolk’s involvement in the redevelopment of Vi at Bentley Village. Suffolk is servicing the project from its Estero office which employs more than 150 professionals.


Angel investors from Southwest Florida invested additional equity in Catalyst OrthoScience, a Naples-based medical device company that has developed an innovative approach to shoulder replacement surgery. The members of Tamiami Angel Fund IV invested $669,791 in Catalyst OrthoScience’s fourth “Series D” preferred stock offering. Together with prior investments from members of Tamiami Angel Funds II and III, the Naples angels have invested a total of $2.38 million in the firm, now the largest investment of any Tamiami portfolio company. In March, Catalyst OrthoScience received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to market its reverse shoulder system, allowing the company to reach over 60% of the shoulder arthroplasty market, Tamiami Angel Fund IV states.


Florida drivers are feeling even more pain at the pump this week, as the ripple effects from the pandemic continue to play out in the crude oil market. The price of crude surged last week, on concerns that what was already a tight global fuel market, could get even tighter this winter. And gas prices are being dragged along for the ride. Florida gas prices surged 12 cents last week, rising from $3.05 to $3.17 per gallon. Sunday’s state average, at $3.17, was the highest daily average since October 2014. “The recent jump at the pump is directly tied to rising futures prices,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “The higher crude price raises the cost of producing gasoline. Unfortunately, it’s not clear when these prices will come back down.” The price of US crude jumped 5% last week. For context, crude rarely exceeded $75 per barrel this year. However, on Friday, it briefly traded above $80, before ultimately settling at $79.31. That was the highest daily settlement since October 2014. Punta Gorda remains one of the least expensive metro markets in Florida, at an average of $3.14 per gallon.


Sarah Landman

NewsBank inc., a Naples-based company, has promoted Sarah Landman to executive vice president for its philanthropy services division. As executive vice president, Landman is leading the growth of the division’s newest product, Insightful, into the philanthropy market. Insightful is donor-centered technology that delivers nonprofits the news that donors and prospects want nonprofits to know to improve philanthropic engagement, NewsBank inc. states. In addition to her role at NewsBank, Landman serves as a member of the board of trustees of the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and on the board of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Venice, Florida. 


David Sepulveda

CRE Consultants has hired David Sepulveda as an associate, expanding the firm’s multifamily investment services. With nearly 10 years of experience using real estate investment partnerships, Sepulveda will utilize his local knowledge and affinity for the multifamily investment sector to assist clients in identifying and capitalizing on opportunities. He is a retired master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force. CRE Consultants is a commercial real estate services firm serving the Florida market.


The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District will host a career fair to help businesses along the avenue find qualified applicants for their available positions. The career fair will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Oct. 15 in the lobby of The Naples Players. In partnership with Career Source Southwest Florida, the event is an opportunity for job seekers to meet with representatives from various retail shops, restaurants and other businesses that are actively recruiting for now and into the upcoming season. Applicants are able to submit their resumes in advance for prearranged interview times, while employers are able to post their open positions and necessary qualifications. Interviews may be either on location or via a virtual platform. For additional information, email info@fifthavenuesouth.com.


The December 2021 issue of Gulfshore Business magazine will include our annual Private School Handbook. To assist the working professionals who read Gulfshore Business monthly in making informed decisions, the Private School Handbook will be an indispensable resource for making school selections. Don’t miss this special opportunity to promote your private school to the 40,000-plus monthly readers of Gulfshore Business by way of this special advertising section. For advertising inquiries, please contact Associate Publisher Chris Renstrom at 239-498-8517 or chris.renstrom@gulfshorebusiness.com.



Video courtesy of WINK News
Harry Chapin Food Bank in desperate need of support to continue its mission 
Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida is pleading with the community for money and food to continue its mission. The local food bank is worried about whether it can keep up with demand, WINK News reports. “We received a lot of money from the federal government through the original round of the CARES Act,” says Richard LeBer, the food bank president and CEO. “We spent all of that money purchasing food to provide to people in Southwest Florida.” Harry Chapin Food Bank is running on private donations and its own savings at this time. “It is a little tight right now,” LeBer says. “We’ve cut back on the amount food we’re distributing at some of our distributions because we haven’t been able to get as much as we want.” Thanks to partners such as St. Matthew’s House and many others, the food bank still feeds close to a quarter of a million people each month. “People can help us in lots of ways,” LeBer says. “We’re always delighted to take donations of food. Don’t go to the grocery store and buy food on our behalf. We can do a lot more with a dollar than you can.” 


Guardian ad Litem Foundation receives grant from United Way of Charlotte County
The Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, has received a $17,000 grant from the United Way of Charlotte County to continue representing children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. The grant will fund two initiatives: The Children’s Needs Program, which provides funding for normalcy items and experiences like birthday parties, tutoring, summer camp programs, movie tickets, beds and registration fees for clubs and sports; and the Growing Guardians Program, which provides funding to recruit, train and support volunteer child advocates. The Guardian ad Litem Foundation’s mission is ensuring that all children in Southwest Florida have a voice as they navigate the judicial, education and child welfare systems. Court-certified, volunteer child advocates make unbiased recommendations based on what’s best for children living in foster or temporary homes.


Champions For Learning awards more than $100,000 in grants to teachers
Collier County teachers received funds for their classroom grants from Champions For Learning board members, volunteers and supporters on Oct. 7 surprised Collier County teachers with funds for their classroom. During the day, Champions For Learning awarded a record-breaking 201 grant checks that totaled $101,747 to 50 schools. The checks will provide teachers with the funds needed to implement creative and innovative learning experiences for students. These classroom grants were requested by Collier County teachers through the online grant portal on Champions For Learning’s website. The community can go to the website and fund requests. The online grant program began in 2003 to enable the community to support teachers. Thanks to a charitable gift from Suncoast Credit Union, which supports the technology and capacity for the classroom grant portal, 100% of community contribution goes into supporting teacher grants.


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