Gulfshore Business Daily: October 26

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Lead Photo: Babcock Ranch sales momentum continues with 900 new home contracts. Details below.



Hertz temporarily closed its car sales locations nationwide as of Thursday, Oct. 22. “As part of our Chapter 11 process, Hertz has been working to right-size our fleet to align with current demand and meet the requirements of our lenders. Hertz has recently met its target to sell approximately 180,000 vehicles, and as a result, is pausing the car sales program including temporarily closing retail locations. Hertz has maintained the licenses for these locations and will evaluate its car sales program as it replenishes its fleet with new vehicles in 2021,” Hertz said in a statement to Gulfshore Business. As Gulfshore Business reported on Oct. 19, Hertz Global Holdings Inc. has secured commitments for debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing totaling $1.65 billion and has filed a motion for approval of the financing by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The proposed DIP financing will support the company as it moves through the next stage of its Chapter 11 process. For more information, click here.


Performance in several key housing areas was at a 20-year high in the Naples area compared to activity reported during any other September on record, according to the September 2020 Market Report, released by the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR), which tracks home listings and sales within Collier County (excluding Marco Island). As such, closed sales increased 52.9% to 1,096 closed sales in September from 717 closed sales in September 2019. Pending sales activity also increased by 83.4% to 1,509 pending sales in September from 823 in September 2019. Median closed prices for September increased 18.2% to $384,000 from $325,000 in September 2019. To view the entire report, visit


Video courtesy of WINK News


In an effort to let visitors know it’s safe to return during the busy season amid the pandemic, promotional campaigns recently launched in the Naples area, WINK News reports. Naples and NCH Healthcare System announced its “All Heroes Wear Masks” initiative Thursday to respectfully and safely welcome visitors. As season arrives, the hope is that visitors feel safe enough to come back and walk down Fifth Avenue South, visit the Naples Pier or take a stroll on the beach. Collier County also has its initiative, “Paradise Pledge,” which includes more than 100 local businesses agreeing to follow social distancing and other guidelines. Last week, Collier commissioners decided to extend the face-covering mandate for the unincorporated part of the county until April.

Career Pathways students working on-site at The Immokalee Foundation’s Learning Lab.


Construction is underway at The Immokalee Foundation’s new Career Pathways Learning Lab, an 18-home subdivision where the entire cost of the first home has been generously underwritten by The Wasie Foundation, founded by American trucking pioneer Stanley Wasie. Students involved in The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program – which helps students beginning in middle school identify a professional career to pursue – are gaining hands-on experience at the Learning Lab. Collier Enterprises donated 8.3 acres of land for the subdivision and helped to underwrite the cost of infrastructure work that took place over the summer. The Ray Foundation’s $250,000 matching grant also was a significant boost in getting the Learning Lab underway. The Immokalee Foundation is also partnering with BCB Homes and Immokalee Technical College (iTECH) on the Learning Lab, and the first home is expected to be completed in April 2021. For more information, call 239-430-9122 or visit


Ahead of the opening of its new ReStore replacing the Pier 1 Imports store that closed last month at the Carillon Place retail center in Naples, Friday was the last day for the ReStore that Habitat for Humanity of Collier County has operated for five years on Yahl Street in North Naples. The local nonprofit organization plans to open its new 10,482-square-foot ReStore in January on the southeast corner of Airport-Pulling and Pine Ridge roads. ReStore, which has another location at 11127 Tamiami Trail E. in East Naples, sells gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances at affordable prices. ReStore donations are tax-deductible and the sale of items there provides a funding stream that helps Habitat build homes for local families in need. Free pickup for large donations can be requested on ReStore’s website,, or by calling the donation hotline at 239-732-6388.


Kitson & Partners announced that sales have surpassed 900 new homes in Babcock Ranch, America’s first solar-powered town located just northeast of Fort Myers on Babcock Ranch Road/State Road 31. Babcock Ranch recently commenced vertical construction at Crescent B Commons, the 82,640-square-foot Publix-anchored shopping center underway at a new entrance to Babcock Ranch about one mile south of the signature Babcock Ranch bridge. Babcock Ranch began marketing new homes in 2017, with the first residents moving into the town in January 2018. Today, Babcock Ranch offers homes from nine homebuilders in seven neighborhoods. Kitson & Partners created Babcock Ranch with respect for the natural environment and the philosophy that smart growth and sustainability work hand in hand. For more information, visit


WDG Architecture | Planning + Interiors of Naples is the design firm behind the recently completed Bonita Springs Poker Room on Bonita Beach Road. The new 31,000-square-foot facility contains the gaming and wagering functions provided at the original Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track facility and with a new Brass Tap craft beer bar and restaurant. The building was conceived to respond to site conditions, a complex program of space requirements, and new zoning criteria being considered by the City of Bonita Springs. WDG regarded the challenging project as an opportunity to introduce a casual modern design aesthetic to the city’s main commercial corridor, according to a news release. WDG collaborated with PBS Contractors on the project.  


MK Architecture has completed construction documents for an interior renovation for Kyle Campbell’s building at 2040 Virginia Ave in Fort Myers. The 4,300-square-foot building will house the offices of yurstore, a company that supplies branded merchandise. The building was first constructed in 1972, and the current project includes a full interior demolition and rebuild to bring new life to the mid-century designed structure. The exterior will be not be modified and will continue to fit into the context of downtown Fort Myers.  The renovation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.



SCORE virtual awards ceremony held tomorrow

In lieu of its annual in-person awards luncheon, SCORE Southwest Florida will host a virtual awards ceremony to recognize this year’s top businesses in the categories of Startup of the Year, Entrepreneurs of the Year, Family-owned Small Business of the Year and Business of the Year.  A number of outstanding SCORE volunteers will also be recognized in this hour-long event, which runs from noon to 1 p.m. tomorrow, Oct. 27. This is an invitation-only event. For more details, visit

Lee County MPO Citizen Advisory Committee meeting coming soon

The Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will host the next Citizen Advisory Committee meeting at 3 p.m. on Nov. 5. Agenda topics for the meeting include approving amendments to the Unified Planning Work Program, approving Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) project data collection scope of services, approving the Performance Measure Targets, approving the Shared Use Non-motorized (SUN) Trail Agreement, and review and comment on the Draft 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan Summary Report. For additional information, visit

Leadership NEXT spotlights nonprofits, volunteers at Nov. 10 virtual program

Leadership NEXT, a monthly program for advancing business professionals, will present a virtual program from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10, highlighting the nonprofit industry and volunteerism. Attendees of Leadership NEXT will hear from Stefanie Edwards, chief development and operating officer of Community Cooperative, a nonprofit with a mission to eliminate hunger and homelessness in Lee County. Edwards will discuss the increased need for Community Cooperative’s services due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting impact on staff, volunteers, clients and the community. The program is free for members of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and $5 for future members. Attendees can register in advance at to receive webinar login credentials.

Kissy Simons

Gulfshore Playhouse presents Broadway Cabaret Series

While the lights are dim on Broadway, the stage at Gulfshore Playhouse is burning bright all throughout November. Gulfshore Playhouse, Naples’ premier professional theater, is bringing three leading ladies from Broadway to Naples for a special Broadway Cabaret Series. Performing for two nights each, Laura Osnes (Nov. 9-10), Kissy Simmons (Nov. 16-17) and Lora Lee Gayer (Nov. 23-24) will entertain audiences with a selection of iconic and classic songs from Broadway’s greatest hits. All Broadway Cabaret Series performances take place at 7:30 p.m. at The Norris Center in downtown Naples. Tickets, which start at $75 with three-show deals available for $200, can be purchased at

Southwest Florida Community Foundation hosts ‘She is Me’ virtual event 

The Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF) of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation hosted its fall event virtually on Oct. 22. The event, “She is Me,” featured the work of storyteller Kinfay Moroti of Hopeful Images and took attendees on a behind-the-scenes, day-in-the-life look at the dedicated and inspiring women in healthcare. These women were able to attend training programs because of the support from contributors of the Women’s Legacy Fund (WLF). The WLF has an ongoing commitment to workforce development for women and girls. To make a more sustainable impact, the WLF Grants Committee opted for a three-year funding cycle with the School District of Lee County and its Career Pipelines for Women in Health Care program. The second year of the program is currently underway.  For more information, visit



Monica Schmucker

Schmucker elected to Friends of Lovers Key Board of Directors

Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A. Litigation Attorney Monica Schmucker was elected to the Friends of Lovers Key (FOLK) Board of Directors. FOLK is a 501(c)(3) citizen support organization dedicated to the preservation of Lovers Key State Park through volunteering and fundraising to cover budget shortfalls for items needed to protect wildlife, cleanup and repairs after storms, and other park services enrichment programs. She is also a member of the Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club Board of Directors. Schmucker serves clients involved in insurance litigation, with a specific focus in the defense of negligence, personal injury, premises liability, vehicle negligence, and wrongful death claims. She has been featured in publications and earned awards for her work. Schmucker is a member of the Lee County Bar Association and Lee County Association for Women’s Lawyers. She received her undergraduate degree from Florida International University and her law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School, cum laude. 

Cyndi Doragh

Doragh joins Iron Ridge Insurance Services

Iron Ridge Insurance Services has added Cyndi Doragh to its team of professional agents. Doragh will focus on building Iron Ridge’s presence in the condo association, homeowners’ association, and legal services markets. Doragh brings more than two decades of experience in commercial insurance. Her resume also includes nonprofit leadership and financial planning experience, including management of a local community bank. Doragh has spent 28 years as a Rotarian, four of which were spent representing district 6960 in Southwest Florida as a Rotary International district governor. Most recently, she spearheaded the eight-month series, Infinite Possibilities: Women in Rotary, a webinar series attended by Rotarians internationally. She is a past president of the Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency and served as chair for the Lee County Economic Development Horizon Council.

SCORE mentors win Small Business Advocate of the Year award

As part of its National Small Business Week Awards celebration, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) South Florida District announced that three mentors from the SCORE Southwest Florida Chapter 219 won in the category “Small Business Advocate of the Year” for the state of Florida. This win goes to SCORE mentors David Hamblett, Len Hendrickson and Raymond O’Brien for their work in helping the gourmet exotic spice company Burma Spice to achieve solid growth, according to a news release. Together, the three SCORE mentors were able to use their talents to help Brakus secure a $250,000 SBA guaranteed loan for manufacturing equipment within seven days. Within two weeks, the mentors had also arranged for a key meeting with the culinary manager at the Florida Culinary Accelerator in Immokalee. Burma Spice received the SBA “Rural Small Business of the Year” award. 

Left to right: Sean Yakicic, Troy Hernly, Mark Stevens, Brad Havemeier, Daniel Adams.

Stevens Construction Inc. earns safety award

Stevens Construction was presented with a safety award for an outstanding workers’ compensation performance by national commercial insurance carrier Amerisure. Annually, Amerisure evaluates policyholder workers’ compensation results and selects up to three construction companies from their national clientele and recognizes them with a award based on strong management commitment to safety, fostering a proactive safety culture, exemplary jobsite safety protocols and low frequency of workers’ compensation claims. This is the third award Stevens Construction has earned for a superior safety record. The company was honored in 2015 by Amerisure for outstanding safety and also previously earned a Safety Star Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors.



TLC Marketing & Creative Services collected 135-plus pounds of food during its food drive.

TLC Marketing & Creative Services collects 135-plus pounds of food for Harry Chapin Relief Music Festival

TLC Marketing and Creative Services collected over 135 pounds of non-perishable food items for the Harry Chapin Food Relief Music Festival from Oct. 1-22. The festival took place from noon to 8 p.m. on Oct. 25 at Coconut Falls Tiki Bar and Grill in Fort Myers. TLC Marketing and Creative Services also donated a gift basket for their silent auction at the festival.

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