Lee County/Horizon Council now accepting applications for the 25th annual Industry Appreciation Awards honoring local businesses

HC 25 Anniversary logoTo salute excellence in Lee County’s business community, the Lee County Economic Development Office and the Horizon Council are seeking submissions for the 25th annual Industry Appreciation Awards. The honorees will be recognized during the Industry Appreciation luncheon on Thursday, Aug. 25 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Estero. Networking begins at 10:30 a.m. and the program is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Horizon Council will honor businesses in four categories:

  • the LocalLee Grown Business Award will be awarded to a company that was founded in Lee County and is distinguished by its operational excellence and commitment to the vibrance of Southwest Florida’s business climate;
  • the Business Citizenship Award honors a company whose financial, volunteer and active involvement in organizations and programs have helped create a better quality of life in Lee County;
  • the Emerging Business Leader Award will be awarded to a relative newcomer to Lee County that is experiencing marked growth while introducing inventive products, services or business practices;
  • the Bruce T. Gora Legacy Award has been added to honor the 25th anniversary of the Industry Appreciation Awards. It recognizes an individual who during the last 25 years has established a history of distinguished service and contributions to the betterment and growth of Lee County’s business community.

Applications for the 2016 Industry Appreciation Awards are now being accepted online at LeeCountyBusiness.com. The deadline for submissions is Friday, May 27.

The Horizon Council is a public-private board established in 1991 to advise the Lee County Board of Commissioners on economic development issues. The Council has over 70members representing six cities; chambers of commerce; economic development and trade organizations; community, business, and education organizations; along with various officers and at-large members.  TheLee County Economic Development Office works to attract new and diversified businesses to the area, and improve the overall business environment in Lee County. For more information, visit www.leecountybusiness.com or call 239-338-3161.

KOVA Partners appoints Patrice Heatherington as controller

Patrice HeatheringtonKOVA Partners, LLC has announced that Patrice Heatherington has been appointed to controller for the company. In her new role, Heatherington will be responsible for the direct supervision of all accounting and financial functions for KOVA Partners, and will assist in the creation and implementation of policies and procedures for accounting issues management and efficient and accurate closing and reporting processes.

Heatherington earned a Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality management from Ohio State University. She has 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, of which she served 11 years in accounting and 15 years in management. Prior to joining the team at KOVA Partners, Heatherington served as club controller for Vineyards Country Club in Naples, where she was responsible for the management of multiple departments, along with accounting and human resources.

About KOVA Partners, LLC

KOVA Partners, LLC is a privately owned, full-service real estate firm and real estate investment fund manager engaged in the development, financing, investment, managing, insurance and leasing of a wide array of real estate investment products and services. With offices in Naples and Bonita Springs, as well as numerous strategic partnerships with third party affiliates, KOVA Partners is comprised of KOVA Commercial, KOVA Property Management and KOVA Insurance Group, and prides itself on its ability to enhance profitability for all of its clients through strategic partnerships and effective solutions. For additional information about KOVA Partners, LLC, please visit www.KOVAPartners.com or call 239-261-2627.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida to host Nature Cat Day May 7

Conservancy Logo

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has partnered with WGCU to host Nature Cat Day, featuring PBS Kids television character, Nature Cat, on Saturday, May 7, at the Conservancy Nature Center.

Children are invited to leave their inner house cats behind and explore the natural world as the Conservancy of Southwest Florida presents a special day of activities and character appearances by PBS Kids newest television show, Nature Cat. Throughout the day, visitors will have the opportunity to learn and experience nature as they encounter animals and enjoy interactive children’s activities that are based on the popular PBS Kids show.

“Our goal at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida is to help our community connect with nature, enjoy exploring its many features and grow to love protecting the world we live in,” said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “Nature Cat Day offers our youngest members of the community the opportunity to have a blast learning with one of their favorite television characters, and we look forward to a day of fun and discovery.”

For more information on activities and experiences available at the Conservancy Nature Center, visit www.Conservancy.org/Nature-Center.

About the Conservancy of Southwest Florida:

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is a not-for-profit environmental protection organization with a 50 year history focused on the issues impacting the water, land wildlife and future of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Conservancy accomplishes this mission through the combined efforts of its experts in the areas of environmental science, policy, education and wildlife rehabilitation. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, world-class Nature Center and von Arx Wildlife Hospital are headquartered in Naples, Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, south of the Naples Zoo off Goodlette-Frank Road. Learn more about the Conservancy’s work and how to support the quality of life in Southwest Florida www.conservancy.org.

Pure Florida presents Sunset Music Cruises in Naples and Fort Myers Friday, May 20

Sunset CruisePure Florida will offer Sunset Music Cruises on Friday, May 20 at 7 p.m. departing from its Naples and Fort Myers locations. The 90-minute excursions will take passengers on a relaxing cruise featuring a live musical performance and the stunning Southwest Florida sunset.

Passengers cruising from Pure Florida’s Naples location will travel along the Gordon River and Naples coastline as the sun begins to set over the Gulf of Mexico. Aboard the M/V Double Sunshine, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking scenery while listening to live music performed by Sunset Steel.

Guests visiting Pure Florida’s Fort Myers location will cruise aboard the M/V Edison Explorer, drifting along the Caloosahatchee River. Guests will have the opportunity to explore the evening scenery of downtown Fort Myers on the water and the beautiful bird rookery accompanied by live music performed Jon Dunnicliff.

Aboard the vessel, guests are invited to relax, have a drink and enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings, showcasing the unique wildlife native to Southwest Florida. While Pure Florida cannot guarantee animal sightings in the wild, potential wildlife sightings include dolphins, eagles, manatee, native birds and more. Beer, wine and soft drinks will be available for purchase on-board the vessels, and snacks will also be available for purchase aboard the M/V Double Sunshine. Once out to sea, the captain will stop the vessel as the sun begins to set so that guests can enjoy the famed Southwest Florida sunset and take advantage of this premier photo opportunity. Once the sun has dropped below the horizon, the vessel will begin its return voyage, providing the opportunity for guests to enjoy the rich colors in the sky and twinkling evening lights on the river, set to the tune of the evening’s musical performance. Upon returning to the Pure Florida dock, guests can conclude their experience by exploring the local shops and restaurants of Tin City or downtown Fort Myers.

The M/V Double Sunshine departs from the historic Tin City, located at 1200 Fifth Ave. S. in Naples and the M/V Edison Explorer departs from The Marina at Edison Ford, located at 2360 W. First St. in Fort Myers. Reservations are required. For pricing and registration for the Sunset Music Cruises, contact Pure Florida’s Naples location at 239-263-4949 or Fort Myers location at 239-919-2965. For more information on Pure Florida and its cruises, visit www.PureFL.com.

About Pure Florida

In 2009, father-and-son duo Captains Lance and Harry Julian acquired the Naples-based Double Sunshine and Lady Brett fishing vessel, and have grown the company to include 19 vessels and two locations providing a variety of unique eco-excursions for its visitors that incorporate maritime history, tourism, sightseeing and entertainment. With locations in Naples and Fort Myers, the water attraction company offers sunset and specialty cruises as well as boat and Jet Ski rentals, fishing charters, group events and educational field trips for schools and students. In addition to Pure Florida, the founders are also partners in Marine Team International and Pure Image Productions, providing professional marine consulting, television and video production and photography services. With a long history in maritime productions, Lance and Harry Julian have helped to create some of the most memorable water scenes in film production, with credits including “Titanic” and “Waterworld,” and television credits such as the reality show, “Survivor.” As the fifth and sixth generation working within the maritime industry, Lance and Harry Julian enjoy sharing their passion and expertise with fellow adventurers in the Southwest Florida area. For more information, visit www.PureFL.com or call its Naples location at 239-263-4949 or its Fort Myers location at 239-919-2965.

Red Sox, Twins draw record number of fans during Spring Training 2016

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Florida’s Spring Training Baseball reached a record high per game attendance this season, with the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins ranking No. 2 and No. 3 respectively, for largest crowds during the 2016 Major League Baseball Spring Training Games. Florida hosts 15 Florida Grapefruit League teams, and Lee County is the Spring Training home to the Boston Red Sox at JetBlue Park and the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.

In 2016, the Boston Red Sox played 15 games at JetBlue Park with a total attendance of 149,397, with an average of 9,960 attendees per game. The largest crowd tallied 10,103 on March 10, when the Red Sox played the Minnesota Twins.

At Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, the Minnesota Twins also played 15 games in 2016, and the total attendance was 121,005, with an average per game of 8,067 attendees. Their largest crowd peaked at 9,109, when the Twins took on the New York Yankees on Sunday, March 20.

Attendance figures are compiled by the Florida Sports Foundation from daily box scores of games, between Major League teams played in the State of Florida, and verified by each of the 15 teams in the Florida Grapefruit League.

The estimated total economic impact for the Red Sox and Twins spring training seasons in Lee County is $48 million annually. That’s according to a 2009 study, the most recent for which such Lee County data is available.

Lee County Sports Development was created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for sports development in Lee County, and is recognized by the Florida Sports Foundation as one of the state’s 25 Regional Sports Commissions. The Lee County Sports Development office leads the recruitment and implementation of amateur and professional sports events and activities in Lee County, with the goal of providing economic impact to Lee County. Through local partnerships with Lee County Parks & Recreation and others, the Lee County Sports Development office provides services designed to address the needs of local, national and international sports entities including housing, access to venues, event management, transportation assistance, event promotion, marketing and local sponsorship opportunities. For more information, call 239-533-5273 or visit www.leegov.com/sports.

PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar donates $1,000 to support Fort Myers Beach Fourth of July firework celebration

Pierside-Grill-Logo-BFLeft[1]

PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar on Fort Myers Beach recently donated $1,000 to benefit the community production of the annual Fort Myers Beach Fourth of July firework celebration.

The Fort Myers Beach community is working hard to raise $25,000 to fund the annual production of the Fort Myers Beach Fourth of July firework display, and their goal is within reach. The charge is led by the FMB Fireworks Fund, a committee of business owners and residents on Fort Myers Beach who have stepped forward to assist in offsetting the expenses for the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve fireworks shows on Fort Myers Beach.

PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar has supported the community’s fundraising efforts throughout the year by hosting several fundraisers and offering fundraising drink specials to benefit the annual firework production.

“The biannual firework displays are a special tradition that the Fort Myers Beach community enjoys on the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve,” said Martin York, managing partner of PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar. “We are happy to take part in supporting this community effort, and we encourage others to join the cause to help keep this firework show alive on Fort Myers Beach.”

For more information, or to donate to the FMB Fireworks Fund, visit www.gofundme.com/fmb-fireworks-fund.

Located on Fort Myers Beach directly next to the public pier in Times Square, PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar is a family-friendly restaurant featuring award-winning food, drinks and sunsets. Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar serves lunch and dinner daily, and happy hour from 3 – 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information, visit www.PierSideGrill.com.

Cape Coral BMX Eagle Classic returns to Lee County April 30 – May 1

Cape Coral BMX Race-Parker Trombley

Lee County will host the Cape Coral BMX Club’s Cape Coral BMX Eagle Classic April 30 through May 1 at the Strausser BMX Park, 1410 SW 6th Place in Cape Coral. Sanctioned by Florida BMX Association, this year’s event will be the fourth year held in Lee County, bringing a total of 800 riders to compete in Cape Coral, with 500 participants traveling to the area and 300 from Southwest Florida. The Cape Coral BMX Eagle Classic is free and open to spectators.
Cape Coral BMX-Parker Trombley

Last year’s event resulted in approximately 1,000 hotel room nights, $5,000 in resort tax and $300,000 in direct economic impact.

“This is a unique sporting opportunity for the Southwest Florida community to come out and enjoy, and we are looking forward to an exciting event,” said Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development. “Our community is a great destination for a wide variety of sports activities and competitions, and the Cape Coral BMX Eagle Classic is a great example of the many spectacular events that are held right here in Lee County.”

Cape Coral BMX Track

Lee County Sports Development was created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for sports development in Lee County, and is recognized by the Florida Sports Foundation as one of the state’s 25 Regional Sports Commissions. The Lee County Sports Development office leads the recruitment and implementatCape Coral BMXion of amateur and professional sports events and activities in Lee County, with the goal of providing economic impact to Lee County. Through local partnerships with Lee County Parks & Recreation and others, the Lee County Sports Development office provides services designed to address the needs of local, national and international sports entities including housing, access to venues, event management, transportation assistance, event promotion, marketing and local sponsorship opportunities. For more information, call 239-533-5273 or visit www.leegov.com/sports.

 

Pure Florida presents Eco-Cruise to Picnic Island Saturday, May 14

Edison ExplorerPure Florida’s Fort Myers location will present an Eco-Cruise tour to Picnic Island on Saturday, May 14 from 8 – 11 a.m. The three-hour eco-adventure includes a narrated cruise along the Caloosahatchee River and a guided tour of Picnic Island, a natural, uninhabited island located between Sanibel and Pine Island.

During the Eco-Cruise to Picnic Island excursion, guests will have the opportunity to bask in the sunshine and experience the natural beauty of Southwest Florida. While discovering the island, explorers can enjoy leisurely walking amidst black and white mangroves, playing in sand, shelling and fishing. Visitors will also have the opportunity to observe wildlife native to the Caloosahatchee River and Picnic Island. While Pure Florida cannot guarantee animal sightings in the wild, potential wildlife sightings include dolphins, eagles, manatee, native birds and more.

Eco-Cruise tours are guided by Coast Guard-certified captains and master naturalists and highlight the history of the Caloosahatchee River and the accomplishments of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford during their time spent at the nearby Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. Registration for the tour is $44 per person, and the M/V Edison Explorer departs from The Marina at Edison Ford, located at 2360 W. First St. in Fort Myers.

The Eco-Cruise to Picnic Island is a popular attraction for voyagers of all ages. Guests are encouraged to bring bottled water and snacks aboard, soft drinks and alcohol are prohibited. Reservations are required. For more information or to book your ticket, call 239-919-2965, email FortMyers@PureFL.com or visit the website at www.PureFL.com. 

About Pure Florida

In 2009, father-and-son duo Captains Lance and Harry Julian acquired the Naples-based Double Sunshine and Lady Brett fishing vessel, and have grown the company to include 19 vessels and two locations providing a variety of unique eco-excursions for its visitors that incorporate maritime history, tourism, sightseeing and entertainment. With locations in Naples and Fort Myers, the water attraction company offers sunset and specialty cruises as well as boat and Jet Ski rentals, fishing charters, group events and educational field trips for schools and students. In addition to Pure Florida, the founders are also partners in Marine Team International and Pure Image Productions, providing professional marine consulting, television and video production and photography services. With a long history in maritime productions, Lance and Harry Julian have helped to create some of the most memorable water scenes in film production, with credits including “Titanic” and “Waterworld,” and television credits such as the reality show, “Survivor.” As the fifth and sixth generation working within the maritime industry, Lance and Harry Julian enjoy sharing their passion and expertise with fellow adventurers in the Southwest Florida area. For more information, visit www.PureFL.com or call its Naples location at 239-263-4949 or its Fort Myers location at 239-919-2965.

Matanzas on the Bay to host third annual Bluegrass, Brew and BBQ May 28

Check Presentation-Chef David Chetwin, Jennifer Shannahan, Captain John 'Giddyup' Bunch, founder of Operation Open Arms, and Glen PetrarcaMatanzas on the Bay on Fort Myers Beach will host its third annual Bluegrass, Brew and BBQ event on Saturday, May 28 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. to benefit Operation Open Arms, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care and treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in military personnel and veterans.

The event will feature live music from the Bugtussle Ramblers from 1 to 4 p.m. and the Cooter Creek Bluegrass Band from 5 to 8 p.m., craft beer from Fort Myers Brewing Company, face painting for children, a 50/50 raffle and a $15 barbecue buffet featuring ribs, smoked pork shanks, potato salad and corn on the cob, offered from noon to 8 p.m. Free car parking and boat dockage will be available for guests traveling by land or sea.

Last year’s Bluegrass, Brew and BBQ event raised more than $7,500 for Operation Open Arms, more than dBluegrass, Brew and BBQ-2oubling the proceeds from its inaugural event in 2014. This year, 50 percent of proceeds from the barbecue buffet, 10 percent of all restaurant proceeds and 50 percent of the 50/50 raffle will benefit Operation Open Arms.

“More than 900 people joined us last year in supporting a great cause, and we l ook forward to another day of great food, phenomenal entertainment and spectacular waterfront views, all while honoring members of our military and supporting a great cause,”Bluegrass, Brew and BBQ-1 said Glen Petrarca, general manager of Matanzas on the Bay. “We invite the community to join us in supporting Operation Open Arms’ invaluable contribution to our U.S. military and veterans, and to learn more about what this organization has to offer the many men and women who have and continue to serve our country.”

For the past 11 years, Operation Open arms has continued to make a difference in the lives of military personnel and veterans, facilitating $12.2 million in direct tangible benefits for more than 3,000 U.S. troops. For more information about the organization and its cause, visit www.OperationOpenArms.org.

Matanzas on the Bay and Petey’s Upper Deck are best known for waterfront views, fresh seafood and old Florida ambience and is located at 416 Crescent St. on Fort Myers Beach on Estero Bay. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, as well as caters to special occasions and private parties. As part of its commitment to use as Bluegrass, Brew and BBQ-5many locally sourced products as possible, Matanzas on the Bay offers fresh produce in partnership with Oakes Farm, rum from the Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery and draft beer from Fort Myers Brewery. Its upstairs sports bar, Petey’s Upper Deck, is popularly known for its Dave’s DocksiBluegrass, Brew and BBQ-4de Pizza, named the best pizza on Fort Myers Beach. The restaurant is located adjacent to the Matanzas Bayside Inn waterfront accommodations, just steps away from the Fort Myers Beach entertainment district. Free car parking and boat dockage is available. To book your party or for more information, call 239-463-3838 or visit www.MatanzasontheBay.com.

Southwest Florida wins big with Norman Love and Mark Loren’s EGGStraordinary Giveaways

Norman and Jo Champion

Chocolatier Norman Love Confections and jeweler Mark Loren Designs recently partnered to hide 36 “EGGStraordinary” prizes throughout Lee and Collier counties between March 19-27. In addition to the special giveaway, prize winners who posted their discoveries on social media sites using the hashtag #LoveLorenEggHunt were entered into a grand prize drawing, and Norman Love Confections and Mark Loren Designs have announced Jo Champion as the grand prize winner.

Champion discovered one of Mark Loren Designs’ prize bags at the Mercato in Collier County on her birthday, and as the grand prize winner of the EGGStraordinary Giveaway, her birthday celebration continues. She will receive a Norman Love Confections All Our Love Gift Tower, valued at $385, and a $400 gift certificate to Mark Loren Designs.

“I found the Easter egg from Mark Loren Designs on my birthday, so that was a nice surprise,” said Champion. “Then to learn that I was the grand prize winner and will receive two very special prizes from both companies, well, it feels like a never-ending birthday celebration!”

Prize bags from Norman Love Confections and Mark Loren Designs were placed throughout Lee and Collier counties at businesses, events and other high-traffic areas. Norman Love Confections and Mark Loren Designs took to social media, revealing special daily clues to help followers determine the whereabouts of the day’s prize. Both Southwest Florida residents and visitors were winners throughout the giveaway, and while many prizes were discovered unexpectedly, many people challenged themselves to be the first to interpret the daily clues in order claim the special prize. Prizes were discovered in wide variety of locations throughout Lee and Collier counties, some of which included Hammond Stadium, Matanzas on the Bay and Health Park in Lee County, and Artis, Waterside Shops and aboard a Pure Florida cruise in Collier County.

Inside eggs in the Norman Love Confections gift bag, winners found a prize voucher for Love’s internationally recognized chocolates or other offerings from Norman Love Confections. Inside eggs in the Mark Loren Design gift bag, winners discovered a gemstone, along with a gift certificate to have the stone set into a custom-designed piece from the award-winning jeweler. Love and Loren added something “EGGStra” to some of their prize bags: golden eggs with a high-valued prize for the winners. Two golden egg prizes from both Love and Loren were hidden in both Lee and Collier Counties, and were discovered at Edison National Bank and Citygate Ministries in Lee County and FineMark Bank and North Naples United Methodist Church in Collier County.

Loren is nationally known for offering unique and rare gemstones, innovative diamond rings, exceptional engagement and wedding bands and expert jewelry design and repair; all services are done on-site at the Fort Myers and Naples gallery locations. From celebrities to clients who appreciate wearing exclusive jewelry designs, Mark Loren Designs assures the finest one-of-a-kind sentimental jewelry pieces for lasting enjoyment. For more information, visit www.marklorendesigns.com.

Founded in 2001 by Norman and Mary Love, Norman Love Confections creates and distributes handcrafted artisanal chocolates from its corporate headquarters at 11380 Lindbergh Blvd. in Fort Myers.  The award-winning Fort Myers-based chocolatier has been lauded more than a dozen times by a leading consumer ratings magazine, including recognition six times for producing the best ultra-premium chocolates in the nation. Forbes.com included Norman Love Confections BLACK line on its list of the nation’s top 10 truffles; The Huffington Post listed it among the six best U.S. destinations in its Chocolate Lover’s Travel Guide; and USA Today named Love as one of its top 10 entrepreneurs for 2014. Love has recently been named as the inaugural inductee of Dessert Professional Magazine’s Chocolatier Hall of Fame, partnered with local chefs to present a six-course meal at the James Beard House in New York and Norman Love Confections was ranked among the top 10 shops in the world for chocolate lovers by U.K. media outlet Daily Telegraph.

Norman Love Confections has Chocolate Salons in Fort Myers, Estero and Naples, and Artisan Gelato by Norman Love is next door to the Fort Myers salon, off Daniels Parkway east of I-75. Chocolates, gift baskets, sipping chocolate and Love’s book, “Artistry in Chocolate, A Story of Love,” also can be ordered online at www.normanloveconfections.com. In addition, Norman Love Confections chocolates and desserts are offered on 18 Princess Cruises’ ships through the “Chocolate Journeys” partnership and at independent retail locations throughout the U.S. For more information visit www.normanloveconfections.com or call 239-561-7215.