Gulfshore Business Daily: October 31

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Gary Aubuchon, Dawn Marie Driscoll, Hugh Kinsey, Myra Walters, Chris Ressler, Howie Leland, Robbie Roepstorff, Pat Dobbins, Chauncey Goss, Guy Whitesman


Collier County ranked No. 8 in SmartAsset’s “Most Paycheck Friendly Places in Florida” list. Collier County was reported with a semi-monthly paycheck of $1,742, purchasing power of 1.72x, an unemployment rate of 4.1%, income growth of 2.2%, and overall Paycheck Friendliness Index of 80.52. Additional details on the study, including the methodology and interactive map, can be found here.



Since September, the Collier County Supervisor of Elections office has been engaging high school students in the electoral process by challenging them to register and pre-register to vote through their annual High School Voter Registration Challenge. Of the 12 participating high schools, Gulf Coast High School won this year’s challenge with 269 voter registration applications received. The entire challenge garnered 1,149 voter registration applications. The participating schools included: Barron Collier High School, Donahue Academy, First Baptist Academy, Golden Gate High School, Gulf Coast High School, Immokalee High School, Lely High School, Lorenzo Walker Technical College, Marco Island Academy, Naples High School, Palmetto Ridge High School and St. John Neumann High School. For more information, visit


Nick Burkel


Nick Burkel has joined Stevens Construction as director of preconstruction services. Bringing 17 years of commercial preconstruction experience, Burkel develops preliminary to final estimates for all Southwest Florida projects, providing the oversight for project conceptualization and constructability within the clients’ schedule and budget goals. Throughout his career, Burkel has provided preconstruction services for $500 million in commercial construction throughout Florida with a specialization in health care, senior living, municipality and hospitality projects. Skilled in construction technologies, Burkel earned his bachelor’s degree in building construction management from East Carolina University.



Monarch Gallery has opened on Fifth Avenue South in Naples. The gallery owners Jaja and Andrew Verner moved to Naples from Prague last year and have given Monarch Gallery an Old European feel. The Monarch Gallery at 612 Fifth Ave. S. combines the former locations of Lady from Haiti and Tropic Real Estate, fashioning a new 1,200-square-foot art gallery with its collection of novelties, art and curios, all hand-picked and curated by the Verners. The Monarch Gallery’s primary focus is on luxurious costume crystal indoor lighting. It is a crystal lighting design resource for architects, designers, contractors and homeowners.



Mercato, a lifestyle shopping and dining destination managed and leased by Madison Marquette, welcomes Narrative Coffee Roasters to its tenant lineup. The new 1,301-square-foot Narrative Coffee Roasters is expected to open its first brick-and-mortar location in the former Second Cup space on Mercato’s main piazza in early 2020. Narrative Coffee Roasters will serve a variety of coffees, teas, hot cocoa, pastries, salads, sandwiches, wine, and local craft beer. Its signature line of wholesale coffees will also be available for sale. The new Narrative Coffee Roasters location at Mercato will have a chic, clean-lined interior with a patio area. Narrative will also serve customers from its signature mobile espresso cart at many Mercato events, starting with the shopping center’s upcoming Christmas tree lighting event, Winterlude, on Dec. 4. For more information, visit


Paws Pet Boutique’s official shop dog, Gracie.


Paws Pet Boutique will celebrate a grand opening with festivities, including the Official Paws Pet Parade, at 4 p.m. on Nov. 8 at 2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, No. 177, Naples. Paws Pet Boutique, owned by Michelle and Larry Kownacki, has been in business for 20 years. Parade participants who register their pets for Friday’s parade receive a complimentary Paws bandana to wear in the parade, followed by a dog cake-cutting ceremony, treats for humans, and 20% off in-store (and online) purchases. Tickets of Chance for Southwest Airlines will be available with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Ben’s Memorial Fund for the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). For more information, contact Paws at (239) 631-8122.



The Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL), a non-partisan, civic advocacy organization, recently elected the officers of its newly constituted board of directors. Elected were Joe Pavich Sr. chairperson, Chris Simoneau vice-chairperson and Susan Evans secretary. Pavich is past president of the Bonita Springs Estero Association of Realtors (2009 and 2018). He has held leadership roles within the Estero and Bonita Springs chambers of commerce. He is a past president and charter member of the Rotary Club of Estero. After six years of serving as vice president for advancement at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), Simoneau recently became the Chief Foundation and Development Officer at Lee Health. Evans is the vice president and chief of staff at FGCU and a member of its founding five employees in 1993. The remaining recently appointed Board members include Don Eslick, Dr. Jane Kuckel, Bob Lienesch, and Jim Shields.


Barbara Miley


Hodges University has appointed Barbara Miley as director of institutional effectiveness and research. Her responsibilities include continuous development and implementation of assessment plans that support Hodges University students. Additionally, she oversees strategic planning initiatives and the collection and reporting of data for state, federal and accreditation accountability standards. Her career in education spans over 20 years, including the past six years in institutional research. Miley earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration/finance from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and her master’s degree of business administration/management from Northcentral University. She has co-presented at conferences in Florida and Texas about accountability and effectiveness. She is a graduate of Leadership Cape Coral and serves on The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools Golden Apple Selection Committee. She volunteers for the American Business Women’s Association and Valerie’s House.


LEAD like a Girl Attendees with LEAD like a Girl Founders; Claribel Bocanegra. Kelly Thawley & Sheryl Verhulst


The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools Inc. and the Hispanic American Doctors’ Association of SWFL (HADA) are holding their annual LEAD Like a Girl Symposium from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Florida Southwestern State College, in Building U, Room 102. LEAD Like a Girl brings together disenfranchised teenage girls to learn from one another and from women leaders in the Lee County community.  The goal of this program is to equip them with the necessary tools for success through leadership, education, advocacy, and development opportunities.  A special scholarship announcement will be made at the culmination of the symposium. This year’s panelists will include Jane Monreal, Fox 4 evening news anchor; Verneda Constance White Davis, retired principal; Dr. Lirio K. Negroni, associate professor of social work, Florida Gulf Coast University; and Giana Montoya, owner of Elegant Rumba Dance Studio. For additional information, contact Claribel Bocanegra at (239) 839 – 8774 or email


Gary Aubuchon, Dawn Marie Driscoll, Hugh Kinsey, Myra Walters, Chris Ressler, Howie Leland, Robbie Roepstorff, Pat Dobbins, Chauncey Goss, Guy Whitesman


The Community Foundation of SWFL and the Fort Myers architectural firm of Parker/Mudgett/Smith Architects, Inc. were honored by the U.S. Green Building Council with Gold Certification under LEED v4 for the Collaboratory. The Collaboratory is the only project in Florida to attain Gold Certification under the standards dictated by LEED v4 (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design version 4). The $7.1 million project, located in the historic 1927 train station in Fort Myers, added 13,130-square-foot to the original 9,400-square-foot interior and 1,900-square-foot exterior spaces and includes a technology backbone linked to the Florida Lambda Rail; the largest digital pipeline available in the state.  The facility is the flagship of the Community Foundation’s entrepreneurship activities throughout the Southwest Florida Region. The Collaboratory had previously received a Design Honor Award for Commercial Renovation from the American Institute of Architects, Florida Southwest Chapter.


Charitable Notes

QBE extends title sponsorship through 2022

QBE North America has extended its title sponsorship through 2022. An integrated specialist insurer, QBE has been the title sponsor since 2017 and the event has seen significant growth during such time, a press release states. In addition, the QBE Shootout has renewed agreements with both Tiburon Golf Club and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort for the next three years. Fourteen players are currently committed to compete in the 2019 Shootout. This year’s tournament will be held Dec. 11-15 as the PGA TOUR returns to Tiburon Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort for the 19th year. The QBE Shootout has raised more than $13 million for a variety of worthy charities, most notably CureSearch for Children’s Cancer. For more information, visit


Clyde Butcher Fall Festival raises $11,500 to support SWAMP

Clyde Butcher and his wife, Niki, hosted the Annual Fall Festival at their Big Cypress Gallery on Oct. 26 and 27 to support the Big Cypress National Preserve Swamp Water and Me (SWAMP)–a program that brings more than 3,500 students a year into Big Cypress for a day of hands-on learning and adventure. Every year, the Butchers invite the public to check out the gallery and swamp walks behind the gallery are available. The walks were $50 per person (kids 17-and-under are free) with 100% of the proceeds supporting the SWAMP program in Big Cypress National Preserve. The South Florida National Parks Trust (SFNPT) funds student field trips to Big Cypress National Preserve each year for 6th-grade students from Collier County. The programs are made possible through the support of South Florida photographer Clyde Butcher and his family, and other trust donors. For more information, visit


SWFL Real Estate Council to host food drive at Annual Social Event

The Southwest Florida Real Estate Council is combining its upcoming Annual Social Event with a food drive for the Harry Chapin Food Bank. This year’s event will be held at 5 p.m. on Nov. at Millenial Brewing Co. The event is free but attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable food item. The event is sponsored by IBERIABANK. For more information visit


Alainn by MiMi Stirn

Artist to exhibit first phase of new series at Arts for ACT

Local award-winning artist MiMi Stirn, will release part of her new 2020 Art Series, “The Mind of a Woman,” from 5:30-9 p.m. on Friday at at Arts for Act, in the main salon. Entry is free and donations are appreciated for the Abuse Counseling Treatment (ACT).  Additionally, 40% of all sales go directly into funding for ACT. Online photos of the exhibit will be available in 2020. Art will be on display through Nov. 30. For more information, visit


The Heights Foundation’s Black Jack, Black Cats and Boo’z raises $18,200 

The Heights Foundation’s Black Jack, Black Cats and Boo’z raised $18,200 to benefit educational programs for at-risk kids in Harlem Heights.  The event, held on Oct. 26 at The Heights Center, featured a variety of casino games, plus live music, a spooky signature cocktail, silent auction, raffle and door prizes. Event sponsors included Golisano Children’s Hospital, Lee Health, entech, Mutual of Omaha and Pristine Landscape. Bahama Breeze Island Grille, Fort Myers, and Fine Folk Pizza provided food for the event.  The emcee was Gina Birch. For more information, visit or call (239) 482-7706.


Vi at Bentley Village supports Collier-Lee Honor Flight

The corporate team at Vi at Bentley Village has contributed $10,000 to Collier-Lee Honor Flight. Vi at Bentley Village Executive Director Penny Smith presented the donation to Honor Flight founders Deb and Sean Lux on Oct. 26 during the organization’s Veteran-Guardian Meet-n-Greet held at Vi at Bentley Village. Seven veterans who reside at Vi at Bentley Village will fly to Washington D.C. on Nov. 2 as part of Mission 21 for the honor flight.


Don’t wait until the end of the week to find out what’s happening in Southwest Florida. Sign up for our free daily newsletter, Gulfshore Business Daily, to stay connected.


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