Weekly Roundup: March 16-20

SBA disaster assistance is available, Lee County Clerk of Courts updates and more.

Gulfshore Business has reported on temporary business closures, adjustments, financial assistance and more every day this week in response to COVID-19. For daily updates, subscribe to our free newsletter, Gulfshore Business Daily, and find archived newsletters at GulfshoreBusiness.com.

 

LOCAL AREAS DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY

The Village of Estero Council, The Sanibel City Council, the Lee County Commission, Bonita Springs City Council, Marco Island city officials, Collier County commissioners, and Naples city officials independently declared a state of emergency this week in response to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Friday, March 20

RESTAURANTS MUST STOP DINING IN

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday afternoon directing all Florida restaurants and other food establishments to suspend any on-premise consumption of food or alcohol. Those establishments, however, will be permitted to operate their kitchens for the purpose of providing delivery or takeout services. The order also requires the closing of gymnasiums and fitness centers statewide. For more details, click here.

 

LEE COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS UPDATE

The Lee County Clerk’s Office has made temporary changes to its services, including limiting public access to all Clerk of Courts customer service counters. The Clerk’s office will re-evaluate public access at its office locations on April 3. Passport Services have been suspended until future notice. Call 1 (877) 487-2778 for other passport serving locations. Marriage Licenses are being provided if your wedding is in the next 60 days. You must start the application online at www.leeclerk.org and call (239) 533-5007 for an appointment to pick up the license. Wedding Ceremonies have been suspended until future notice. Official Records – Recording Documents: If you know the amount of your transaction, you may drop off or mail your documents with payment, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to Recording Office, PO Box 2278, Fort Myers, FL 33902; or drop it off at Administration Building, 2115 Second Street, Fort Myers. If you do not know the amount of your transaction, call (239) 533-5007. Court Related– Filing Documents and Making Payments: Payment due dates have been extended 60 days. You can pay online www.LeeClerk.org or leave your payment in the secure dropbox, or pay by mail. The drop off address is Justice Center, 2075 Dr. MLK Blvd., Fort Myers. The mailing address is Clerk of Court’s Office, PO Box 2507, Fort Myers, FL 33902. All Jury Duty is canceled until March 27. This date may be extended. The Self Help Center is closed and Legal Aid appointments have been suspended until further notice. For recording documents, marriage license, and passport questions call (239) 533.5007; for court-related questions call (239) 533-5000; Email any questions to leeclerk_info@leeclerk.org.

 

SBA DISASTER ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on Wednesday announced that small businesses located in the State of Florida adversely impacted by COVID-19 can now apply for disaster loans. For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the Coronavirus. All 67 Florida counties are included in the disaster declaration for Coronavirus. SBA Resource Partners information can be obtained on the SBA website at www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find/. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in economic assistance to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue resulting from the disaster. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. To apply, visit the SBA Disaster website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. For additional information, contact the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.
 

INC. MAGAZINE CELEBRATES SWFL BUSINESSES 

Inc. magazine has recognized several Southwest Florida firms in its inaugural Inc. 5000 Series: Florida list. The companies on this list show growth rates across all industries in Florida. Between 2016 and 2018, these 250 private companies had an average growth rate of 302 percent and, in 2018 alone, they employed more than 56,000 people and added $12.6 billion to the Florida economy. Companies based in the Naples metro area were among those that brought in the highest revenue overall, according to a press release. Naples companies making the list include Chomps (ranked No. 31), Capital Wealth Advisers (No. 80), Elite Auctions (No. 128), Earth View (No. 161), ArgotTrak (No. 165) and DeAngelis Diamond (no. 218). Lee County businesses ranked on the list include Target Roofing & Sheet Metal of Fort Myers (No. 25), Roman Roofing of Cape Coral (No. 40), Surf9 of Bonita Springs (No. 69), Scotlynn USA Division of Fort Myers (No. 92), FieldEdge of Fort Myers (No. 167), MY Shower Door / D3 Glass of Fort Myers (No. 209). For the full list, click here.
 

Thursday, March 19

FLORIDA GOV. ORDERS SOCIAL DISTANCING ON BEACHES

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order Tuesday includes statewide guidelines for social distancing on Florida beaches. “I direct parties accessing public beaches in the State of Florida to follow the CDC guidance by limiting their gatherings to no more than 10 persons, distance themselves from other parties by 6 feet, and support beach closures at the discretion of local authorities,” DeSantis said. Most beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast remain open as spring breakers continue to flock to the Sunshine State. Many beaches on the east coast have closed in South Florida, including popular shoreline destinations in Miami Beach and the Fort Lauderdale area.
 

Wednesday, March 18

FLORIDA GOVERNOR SUSPENDS OPERATION OF BARS AND NIGHTCLUBS

Because congregating at bars and nightclubs could be problematic in spreading the coronavirus, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is suspending the operation of these establishments statewide for 30 days. The governor also is requiring some restrictions on Florida restaurants. “In terms of restaurants, we are going to do similar to what California did where you have 50 percent capacity limitation. Seating needs to be staggered to assure that seated parties are separated by a distance of at least 6 feet, of course. You know this virus is transmitted when you are within 6 feet of somebody,” DeSantis said Tuesday during a news conference. Diners are being encouraged to use takeout and delivery services, he said. All bars on Fifth Avenue South in Naples will be closed but restaurants will remain open. All stores on Fifth that are open will also be following CDC best practices in terms of cleaning and customer traffic.
 

Tuesday, March 17

LOCAL WHOLESALER OPENS CORONAVIRUS SUPPLIES FOR RETAIL SALE

Because of area COVID-19 needs, a local wholesale restaurant supply store opened its doors to the general public this week to retail its products, including toilet paper, tissues, gloves, disinfectants, soap and food items. “We have a huge stock of toilet paper and we have disinfectants. We are sitting on a big stockpile. We sold out of masks but we have more coming on Wednesday,” says Rudy Ambrosi, owner of Pro-Edge Paper and Sclafani Imported Italian Food Market. The family-owned business is shifting gears and selling to the public because of the obvious need now during supply shortages at area stores, but also because their regular business clients, such as restaurants, bars, hotels and schools, temporarily are not needing the supplies, Ambrosi said. “There’s need for the public,” he says. “We are just going to hunker down and sell to the public.” In addition to cleaning supplies, Ambrosi has pasta and jars and cans of other food products imported from Italy, including sauces, soups, tomatoes and olives. The restaurant supply store is located at 3910 Domestic Ave. in the industrial park area between Airport-Pulling and Livingston roads in East Naples. The business is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, visit https://proedgepaper.com/.
 

Monday, March 16

HENDERSON FRANKLIN HIRES FORMER INDIANA DEPUTY ATTORNEY

Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt P.A. has appointed Monica Schmucker to the firm’s tort and insurance litigation department. She is a former deputy attorney general in Indiana. While in law school, she worked at the Notre Dame Legal Aid Clinic. After law school, she clerked for Judge Kathleen Lang in LaPorte County Superior Court and later joined the Office of the Indiana Attorney General as a deputy attorney general in the licensing enforcement and homeowner protection unit. She then began practicing insurance defense litigation in Indianapolis until relocating to Southwest Florida. Schmucker is fluent in Spanish and a member of the Lee County Bar Association and Lee County Association for Women’s Lawyers. She is a member of the Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club Board of Directors and Chair of the Social Committee. Schmucker received her undergraduate degree from Florida International University and her law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School (cum laude).