Weekly Roundup: April 5-9

Catch up on this week’s top business news here. For daily information, subscribe to our free newsletter, Gulfshore Business Daily, and find archived newsletters at GulfshoreBusiness.com.

 

Friday, April 9

TRAVEL INDUSTRY REVIVING IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

Travel experts say there’s a lot of pent-up demand to travel after the past year, and now that vaccinations have ramped up, more people are ready to get out and explore. Southwest Florida, in particular, is booming because it’s surrounded by beautiful beaches and lots of wildlife. We’re still mostly seeing local tourism within the state, but numbers are trending up, which is good news for the local economy. Compared to pre-pandemic visitation numbers in January and February 2020, the region is still down about 17%. AAA says enough people are booking flights again that airlines are returning to using their larger planes. Even sales for cruises are picking back up, and cruise lines are planning with the Centers for Disease Control on how to safely set sail again this year, WINK News reports.

 

Thursday, April 8

 

Video courtesy of WINK News

LEE COUNTY CONSIDERING MAKING CASHLESS TOLL SYSTEM PERMANENT

Gone are the days where someone would greet you and collect cash at the tollbooth. COVID-19 brought a new era of cashless tolls and Lee County wants it to stay that way. But the change could cost motorists an additional $2 every time they pass a tollbooth in Southwest Florida. The cashless system may become permanent, doubling prices for some drives. However, the county is offering a solution so people don’t end up with higher tolls. As long as you get a transponder, the toll to cross the Midpoint Bridge, the Cape Coral Bridge and the Sanibel Causeway would remain the same. Lee County plans to give away their Leeway transponder stickers for free, WINK News reports.

 

Wednesday, April 7

LEE COMMISSIONERS APPROVE STRATEGIC PLANNING PRIORITIES

Lee County commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve the consensus direction set at its annual strategic planning workshop earlier this year that identifies priorities for fiscal year 2021-22. During the daylong event on Feb. 23 at Sanibel Harbour Resort, the board discussed the progress the county made in 2020 as well as priorities for the coming year. Those priorities include proposing amendments to the economic element of the LeePlan and explore further redevelopment opportunities in North Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres; buying locally as much as possible, including potential changes to local bidder preference policies; increasing parks amenities and access to Conservation 20/20 preserves and analyzing local and state sports facilities to assess potential niche opportunities that can be considered at a board workshop this fall. Additional information from the workshop is available at a special landing page the county created by clicking here

 

Tuesday, April 6

PPP EXTENSION ACT SIGNED INTO LAW; SBA INCREASES ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN LENDING LIMIT

President Joe Biden has signed the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act of 2021 into law, extending the Paycheck Protection Program an additional two months to May 31, and then providing an additional 30-day period for the U.S. Small Business Administration to process applications that are still pending, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the SBA, said. Additionally, the SBA is increasing the maximum amount small businesses and nonprofit organizations can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Starting this week, the SBA is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 EIDL program from six months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. For more information, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University.

 

Monday, April 5

69% SAY NO TO BUSINESSES REQUIRING COVID-19 VACCINATION PROOF FOR EMPLOYEES

More than 69% of Gulfshore Business survey respondents – 633 in all – said businesses should not be able to require proof of the COVID-19 vaccination for employees. Nearly 31% of survey respondents – 284 in all – said businesses should be able to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for employees. Gulfshore Business administered the one-question survey on Thursday, April 1, which received 917 responses before it closed at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 2.

 

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.