Gulfshore Business Daily: September 23

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Photo of fish kill caused by red tide. Credit: WINK News.
Lead Photo: Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District has announced Slidr as an official partner. Details below.


Photo of fish kill caused by red tide. Credit: WINK News.


The city of Sanibel wants businesses in the community to take part in a survey evaluating the 2018 red tide impacts on the local economy. The University of Florida and Sea Grant Florida are conducting a survey regarding the effect of the outbreak on Florida’s marine and recreation industries. Although the city is specifically encouraging its businesses in its community to take part, the survey is not limited to Sanibel businesses. Any businesses in the industries impacted by red tide in 2018 can take the survey, WINK News reports. The deadline to complete the survey is Monday, Sept. 28.
Video courtesy of WINK News


Fort Myers wants to improve parts of the city where neighbors are currently stuck looking at unappealing lots, vacant properties or both. It would take abandoned lots and convert them into affordable homes. Councilman Fred Burson told WINK News that the goal of the Fort Myers infill housing program is to put vacant plots of land in the city to good use. In addition to promoting new construction in Fort Myers, the goal of the project is to also give new homeowners an affordable opportunity. A plot of land made available through the program went on sale for $4,000 and sold for $500. “We give it to them at a discounted rate in exchange for building on it within the next three years,” Burson says.


Naples Classical Academy (NCA), a new classical curriculum K-12 charter school, has selected a location for its campus at 10270 Immokalee Road, just east of Collier Boulevard in North Naples. The $20-million campus will feature a two-story 70,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility with sports and recreational fields. A future development phase, including a 14,000-square-foot gymnasium, is also planned. The 17-acre property is the current location of Fogg’s Nursery, which is relocating. NCA is the third charter school to be launched and managed by The Optima Foundation, a Naples-based organization founded to support the establishment and expansion of superior quality schools of choice in Florida. Its other two schools under management are Treasure Coast Classical Academy and Jacksonville Classical Academy. Currently in the permitting process, construction is expected to start soon with Summit Construction Management Group. Peninsula Engineering will provide engineering services, and NOVA will provide inspection services for the project. Enrollment is now open for the 2021-22 school year. Apply here.

Gulfshore Playhouse Theatre and Education Center


Gulfshore Playhouse is forging ahead with record progress on its new Cultural Campus thanks to the support of Neapolitans and business leaders. A bipartisan group known as the East of 41 Coalition, led by Michael Wynn, has formed to demonstrate support for the Naples Community Redevelopment Agency to accept Gulfshore Playhouse’s land donation offer for a municipal parking garage on First Avenue South that would not only support programming at the theater, but serve various retailers, restaurants and shops. The theater’s location also supports the City of Naples’ redevelopment plans for the East of 41 downtown area. The new Baker Theatre and Education Center on the Gulfshore Playhouse Cultural Campus will feature two new state-of-the-art theaters and spur more than $20 million annually in anticipated economic activity within the city, according to a news release. Naples Square resident and art collector Anthony Petullo has also committed his public support for the new theater and education center with a $250,000 gift for the Garden Lounge at the new building, scheduled to break ground early 2021. Throughout the summer, Gulfshore Playhouse also made record progress on the design of the new building, completing nearly 100% of the construction documents phase. The campus is designed by H3/Arquitectonica under the creative direction of Bernardo Fort-Brescia. For more information about The Next Stage Capital Campaign and fundraising efforts, contact Kimberly Dye at

Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro reopens Thursday.


Bha! Bha! is back! After taking a six-month hiatus that began with the pandemic lockdown in March, Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro reopens Thursday night on Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples. “We are reopening refreshed and enlivened with new management and an updated menu, including some old favorites returning,” says Chef Michael Mir, an Iran native who has owned and operated Bha! Bha! for more than 20 years. One of the most popular dishes returning to the menu is a heart-warming old favorite called  Garlic Eggplant Chicken, a classic that showcases the local restaurant’s aromatic Persian cuisine. The rebooted restaurant will be open later in the evening to give patrons more time to enjoy its long-celebrated lamb shanks and eggplant dishes. Bha! Bha!, 865 Fifth Ave. S., will be open 5 to 10 p.m. every day. For more information, call 239-594-5557 or go to  


Zeal Technical Institute, formerly known as Southwestern Vocational Training (SWVT), is rolling into the fall semester with improvements to its facility and new vocational healthcare programs. The additional programs include Cardiac Monitor Technician, Mental Health Technician, Medical Administrative Assistant and Medical Assistant certifications—making Zeal the only institution that offers a Mental Health Technician certificate in Southwest Florida, according to a news release, to help meet the needs of the growing mental healthcare industry. Over the past decade, Sylvia Dorisme, founder of Zeal Technical Institute, has helped graduates obtain employment in healthcare that accumulated to $1.5 million in income, created partnerships that provided over $475,000 in grants, and assisted over 5,000 graduates in the state of Florida, according to a news release. Prospective students of Zeal Technical Institute will have the flexibility of learning online while attending school for clinicals only with the possibility of returning to school full-time in early November. The grand opening of Zeal Technical Institute is slated for 5 p.m. this Friday. For more information, visit

Gary Trippe and Gray Davis at the 2019 Blue Chip Awards


The Horizon Foundation announces its long-term commitment to partner with the Blue Chip Community Business Awards program starting with its 26th annual event. The 26th Annual Blue Chip Community Business Awards program is scheduled for May 20, 2021, and will be part of a larger multi-day series of business events that will culminate with the Industry Appreciation Awards luncheon on May 21, 2021. In keeping with its founding principles created by former insurance executive and business leader, Gary V. Trippe, the Blue Chip program will recognize small business owners who have overcome adversity to achieve success. Thriving for-profit companies with their primary office located in Charlotte, Collier, or Lee County may apply. Eligible businesses must have been in continuous operation for at least three years under the same ownership and have five to 400 payroll employees. Registration for the event will remain free. For more details about the Blue Chip Award program, contact Scott Gregory at For more information about the Industry Appreciation Awards and multi-day series of business events, contact Dilman Thomas at 

Slidr on Fifth Avenue South


The Fifth Avenue South Business Improvement District (BID) announced Slidr as an official partner, providing ride-on-demand transportation service for those visiting the Avenue’s restaurants, boutiques and galleries. Slidr is an eco-friendly service for those who want to get from one point to the next. The service is free to riders and can be accessed day or night via smartphone. Under the partnership with Fifth Avenue South, Slidr is just an app away, awaiting an opportunity to provide service from Fifth Avenue South to other popular spots around the downtown Naples area, including the Naples Pier, Crayton Cove and Third Street South. The partnership also benefits Fifth Avenue South merchants, which receive a 30% discount to advertise with one of the company’s vehicles. Slidr is entering its fifth year of operating in the Naples area. The “Slidr Rides” app is available online at Google Play or the Apple store.



Ryan Carter

Carter selected as Small Business Person of the Year for Florida

Ryan Carter, executive vice president and co-founder of Scotlynn USA Division Inc., has been selected as Florida’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2020 by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Honorees from across the country were recognized during a virtual event on Tuesday as part of National Small Business Week. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Carter holds a degree in economics and has more than 10 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry. At 26, he co-founded the American division of Scotlynn, a logistics and transportation company headquartered in Canada, in Fort Myers. Carter remains at the head of the company as its executive vice president and has grown the operation into an enterprise specializing in transporting refrigerated produce. Today, Scotlynn has four offices in the U.S. and about 275 employees. Previously, Carter was also recognized as the 2019 SBDC Entrepreneur of the Year for the five-county area of Southwest Florida. In addition to awardee recognitions, National Small Business Week will include a free, three-day virtual conference featuring educational workshops and networking co-hosted by the SBA. For more information, visit

Pazzo front of house employees

Pazzo! Cucina Italiana to celebrate 25 years in business

Pazzo! Cucina Italiana will kick off a year of celebration as it pays homage to 25 years in business, starting Nov. 21. Skip Quillen is the owner and founder of the award-winning Culinary Concepts’ group. Special plans are underway for the anniversary celebration date, but during the month of November, Pazzo! is offering a 25% discount to all present and former Pazzo! employees. Pazzo!, which is just completing the final touches on a million-dollar remodel, was the first restaurant in the Culinary Concepts’ restaurants, including Chops City Grill, Yabba Island Grill and The Saloon. For more information, visit

Kristin Thomas

Spiro & Associates hires social media marketing specialist 

Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Brand Architecture has added Kristin Thomas to its evolving digital department. As a social media marketing specialist, she will significantly help the 30-plus-year old agency provide SEO-boosting communications services to multi-industry clients via platform-based content, Hootsuite scheduling, and highly visual social media programs and campaigns. A native of Batavia, Illinois, she attended Appalachian University in Boone, North Carolina, while launching her career as a social media manager for Servpro in New Hanover. Thomas relocated to Southwest Florida in 2016, earning her Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from Florida Gulf Coast University. During her tenure, Thomas conducted a service-learning project for Golisano Children’s Hospital. FGCU ultimately showcased “Baskets of Hope” as a top community partnership. Prior to graduation, Thomas worked as a social media manager for G-Force Dance Co. in Fort Myers, where she teaches dance.

John R. Wood Properties adds seven SWFL agents

John R. Wood Properties added seven new agents throughout the month of August. In Collier County, Theresa Bocka, Barbara Morley, David Peterson, and Robin Rozankowski have joined the Central, North Naples and Marco Island offices. In Lee County, Lance Tyo and Mary Vogt have joined the Bonita Springs office, while Jacquline Guadagna has joined the Cape Coral office. John R. Wood Properties is the Southwest Florida representative of LeadingRE. For more information, visit

Teachers Shopping in the Education Resource Center


The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools Inc. collects school supplies

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools Inc. held its annual Back to School Supply Drive, collecting thousands of supplies that benefitted the Foundation’s Education Resource Center (ERC). Several businesses throughout Lee County gave back to this initiative by donating supplies, such as backpacks, pens, pencils, headphones, markers, desks, filing cabinets and more. The ERC provides Lee County School District educators access to new and reusable classroom supplies at no cost. The mission of the ERC is to ensure that all students have the tools necessary to succeed and that educators have what they need to promote student achievement. Over 600 educators have stopped by and shopped since the beginning of the school year.

Don’t be the last to know what’s happening in Southwest Florida. Sign up for our free daily newsletter, Gulfshore Business Daily, to stay connected.


You May Also Like