Gulfshore Business Daily: Sept. 26

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Andrew Banyai

Bruce Barone Jr.


Naples City Council has unanimously voted to extend its 5th Avenue South Business Improvement District (BID) resolution until 2029 during its meeting on Sept. 19. Created in 2009 at the request of downtown merchants, the 5th Avenue South BID provides the city with the means to assess some 200 merchants to fund marketing and promotional activities. With the support of the local government and the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), the BID has helped create the successful downtown district master plan and zoning district in addition to the 5th Avenue South special overlay zoning district. The BID also designed and installed decorative lighting and landscape improvements, developed a strategic marketing plan for entrepreneurial and small business strategies, secured new sponsors for holiday events and created new activities to draw visitors downtown. Bruce Barone Jr. is executive director of the 5th Avenue South BID.



Hodges University has launched its professional training initiative, Professional Education and Training (PET), called Hodges Connect. These workforce development programs are of varying lengths and are designed to give participants immediately applicable skills that they can put to work the next day. These are separate from the traditional academic programs the university offers and can be taken by anyone who is interested. No pre-admission testing or previous college experience, or even a high school diploma is required. The first workshop, the First Line Supervisor certificate program, is now available and accepting registrations. The program is available both as a workshop on the Hodges University campus or completely online. Additional information is available here. Upon completion of either format, graduates will receive their First Line Supervisor Certificate from Hodges University. For more information about PET Hodges Connect, email or click here.



The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business (WIB) Committee will host its October networking meeting from 4-6 p.m. on Oct. 2 at Becker & Poliakoff P.A. in Fort Myers. Attendees of the October WIB program will have the opportunity to learn about women succeeding in typically male-dominated fields. Panelists include Joleen Darragh, Southview Studios; Amber Pace Thomas, JND Mechanical; Lisa Barnes, Cape Coral Police Department; Rabbi Nicole Luna, Temple Beth El; and Sandra Evans, Stevens Construction. The panel will be facilitated by Kathleen O. Berkey of Becker & Poliakoff. The October networking event is hosted by Becker & Poliakoff and sponsored by Stevens Construction. Admission is $10 for chamber members and $20 for nonmembers and includes one complimentary drink and light appetizers. To register, call (239) 332-2930 or visit



The Association of Fundraising Professionals Collier-Lee Chapter (AFP) will honor several philanthropists, as well as 14 distinguished volunteers, during its National Philanthropy Day Celebration, happening from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 at the Hilton Naples. The AFP Collier-Lee Chapter will honor: Sue Dalton, 2019 Outstanding Philanthropist; Lipman Family Farms, 2019 Outstanding Philanthropic Organization; Susan McManus, 2019 Outstanding Philanthropic Executive; and Jonathan Oliva-Infante, 2019 Outstanding Philanthropic Youth. Tickets are $60 per person and can be purchased at this site. For more information about the 2019 National Philanthropy Day Celebration and AFP, call Jeanne Bolds, (239) 947-2000, email or visit



As part of the Oct. 4 National Manufacturing Day celebration, Pelican Wire is hosting an afternoon manufacturing plant tour and engineering workshop for a group of high school students from Grace Place. Organized in partnership with the Leadership Collier Foundation, students and other invited guests will be given a guided tour of the manufacturing facility, with information on each production process and materials application. Students will also receive a presentation from members of the engineering team about their own academic and professional career paths, with time reserved for a student-led Q&A. For more information about this event, contact Pelican Wire at (239) 597-8555 or


Andrew Banyai


The business arm of the Daily Business Review is honoring Andrew Banyai with the Florida Trailblazers Award, which recognizes those who have “made significant marks on the practice, policy and technological advancements in their sector,” according to a press release. Banyai is the executive director of the Lee County Legal Aid Society Inc., a not-for-profit agency which provides advice, counsel and legal representation on a pro bono basis. Banyai and his team regularly help about 1,000 people a year, through an application process and walk-in clinics, where clients are screened through the Lee County Clerk of Courts and directed to the right legal advice. Banyai and other honorees will be featured in a future issue of the Daily Business Review.


Robert Bernstein [PHOTO: Caronchi Photography]


Coleman, Hazzard, Taylor, Klaus, Doupé & Diaz, PA has hired litigation associate Robert Bernstein. Bernstein represents businesses and individuals in complex matters including construction litigation, commercial litigation, probate and trust litigation, and employment litigation. Prior to joining the team, he practiced in the areas of commercial and construction litigation, and represented clients throughout the state of Florida. He has been licensed to practice law since 2014, and is admitted in all Florida state courts as well as the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Bernstein is a member of the Florida Bar’s Real Property, Probate & Trust Section, and the Young Lawyers Division. He is also a member of the Urban Land Institute Southwest Florida and the Collier County Bar Association. Bernstein received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and in the top 12% of his class.



Hilton Naples has appointed Mari Hornbeck as senior catering sales manager. She will be responsible for overseeing the catering sales department, and she will be key liaison between corporate clients and the hotel’s sales, food and beverage and audio-visual departments. Hornbeck served on the management team that opened Hyatt House Naples 5th Avenue. Prior to that, she held sales management positions at Hyatt properties in Atlanta and Boston. With over 12 years of hospitality industry experience, Hornbeck began her career as front desk manager at the LaPlaya Beach and Golf Resort in Naples. Hornbeck is a native of Naples and earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College.


Charitable notes

Hope Clubhouse secures title sponsors for mental health luncheon

 Lee Health and Kids’ Minds Matter, who have launched a special partnership to address mental health needs in the community, will join together as title sponsors for the Hope Clubhouse of Southwest Florida “Faces of Hope Who Give” Mental Health Luncheon, held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers. VIP reserve tickets are currently available at $100 each. If seats are still available on Oct. 1, a limited number of general admission tickets may go on sale for $75. A variety of sponsorship opportunities are available. For tickets or sponsorships, go to This year, Kids’ Minds Matter is helping Lee Health launch a first-of-its-kind program, TelePsyche, which offers advice and counseling through digital services to Southwest Florida families on mental health concerns. Kids’ Minds Matter raised more than $3 million last year to open doors for children, who need psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health resources.


LCEC funds Goodwill Pathways’ environmental program 

The Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) has approved a $2,000 grant to fund the “Pathways to Environmental Stewardship Initiative” for Goodwill’s Pathways to Opportunity program (PTO). The new program is designed to help adults with disabilities enhance their abilities and social skills through gardening and recycling projects. This environmental program empowers participants to reduce, reuse and recycle in their everyday lives, and to understand the impact that their lifestyle choices may have on Florida’s wildlife, waterways and natural environment. The initiative will conduct a number of activities and classes from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. The Environmental Stewardship curriculum will be integrated in the annual schedule of classes which are offered quarterly. The LCEC grant funding was approved through the environmental funding award selection committee mid-September, and funds will be used to run the new initiative and purchase gardening supplies.


Israel Suarez

Suarez to be honored for community service through Nations Association

The Rev. Israel Suarez, founder and CEO of Nations Association Charities, will be honored from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the Collaboratory in Fort Myers. Hors d’oeuvres, networking opportunities and a cash bar begin at 6 p.m., and the program begins at 7 p.m. The event celebrates Suarez’ 40 years of achievements in helping disadvantaged residents and youth in Southwest Florida. Nations Association’s wide range of programs have included food for struggling families, scholarship assistance for college-bound youth, counseling, job placement services, drug prevention programs and many more services. Members of the celebration committee are Denise Carlin, Diane Colon, Teri Hansen, Yvonne Hill, Michael Jackson, Karen Krieger, Jim Nathan, Wayne Smith and Patty Waters. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased by calling (239) 332-7575. Proceeds from the event will enhance Nations Association’s scholarship programs and services.


Tennis pros to participate in Chaos on the Courts

Celebrity tennis players will face off against national pickleball champions in head-to-head matches to benefit affordable housing on Sanibel. Dubbed “Chaos on the Courts,” the duels will take place on Nov. 16 at Beachview Tennis Club on Sanibel, highlighting a full day of tennis clinics, round-robin tournaments and court-side games with prizes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to benefit the Community Housing and Resources. The nonprofit organization provides affordable housing for 150 people with 74 rental homes and 14 limited equity homes on Sanibel. Participating tennis and pickleball stars vying for court supremacy will include Nick Bollettieri, IMG Academy; Simone Jardim, Peak Performance Pickleball Academy; pickleball champions Kyle Yates, Christie Bradley, Martina Kochli and Jonny Pickleball; and Scott “Golden Boy” Golden, a top-rated pickleball player and instructor who will stream the event on Facebook Live. The cost is $100 per player and $50 for guests, including lunch and an ice cream sundae bar provided by Joey’s Custard. To register or make a donation, contact Toni Halski at (239) 472-9099.


LCEC provides ArtFest Fort Myers with Environmental Funding Award

LCEC  will provide ArtFest Fort Myers with a $3,500 environmental funding award to support ‘We Are Overflowing’. ArtFest Fort Myers introduced ‘We Are Flowing’ in 2019 to spread awareness of upcycling. The program exhibits art that is crafted from repurposed and discarded materials. The event will be held the first weekend of February 2020 in downtown Fort Myers and more information can be found on the ArtFest Fort Myers website. To apply for an environmental funding award from LCEC, organizations can email to receive an application. The deadlines for 2020 award applications are March 15 and Sept. 1, 2020. Interested organizations must meet certain criteria to be considered for the award including being located within LCEC service territory, funding utilized for projects/programs related to the environment and the utility industry, and having a demonstrated need for funds.


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.


You May Also Like