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.

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


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.

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.

Scott Wells joins Stevens Construction Inc.

Scott WellsScott Wells has joined Stevens Construction as senior superintendent, announced Mark Stevens, company president.
Wells joins the company with more than 20 years of construction experience with a specialty in senior care construction.  Prior to joining Stevens Construction, Wells served as senior superintendent for construction management firm where he completed more than $400 million in commercial construction, including the 400,000-square-foot Terraces at Bonita Springs, a SantaFe Senior Living Community.


Wells will manage the onsite field supervision of commercial and health care projects, specifically handling inspections, safety meetings, daily job reports, cost reports and all tasks that are instrumental to the success of the project.


With offices in Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando, Fla., Stevens Construction specializes in providing construction management, general contracting and consulting services to clients and design professionals. Other services include site and design team selection, budgeting, project scheduling, permitting, cost and quality control and warranty service. The company builds health care, commercial and hospitality facilities. For information, visit www.stevensconstructioninc.com or call 239-936-9006.

Tickets, sponsorships still available for May 3 Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida’s 2016 Business Hall of Fame, Lee County

Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida has announced that tickets and sponsorships are still available for the upcoming 2016 Business Hall of Fame, Lee County, to be held on Tuesday, May 3 with a cocktail reception at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs.

Junior AchievemeGary Aubuchonnt of Southwest Florida’s Business Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who serve as role models for youth through their professional accomplishments and commitment to the community. During the event, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida will induct Gary Aubuchon, president of Aubuchon Team of Companies, and Steve Marino, president and CEO of Home-Tech Consolidated, Inc., into its Business Hall of Fame, Lee County. Aubuchon and Marino will join a distinguished group of individuals who have been inducted into the Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida Business Hall of Fame since it was founded in 1999.

Business sponsorships are still available and include entrance to the event with premium diamond sponsorships at $10,000, platinum level sponsorships for $8,000 and gold level sponsorships for $5,500. These levels include eight seats, with an additional two seats reserved for students. Additional sponsorships available are silver sponsor level for $2,000, which includes eigh Steve Marinot seats with two additional seats for students, and bronze sponsor level for $1,000, which includes four seats at a reserved table. Individual seats are also available for $250 each.

Sponsors also are needed to support student admission, which is $125 per ticket. Junior Achievement students attending the event will have an opportunity to practice their etiquette skills while interacting with local professionals. Additionally, full-page and half-page advertisements are available in the event program book for $1,000 and $500 respectively. To reserve tables, individual tickets or to become a sponsor, call the Junior Achievement office at 239-225-2590 or visit www.JASWFL.org. Proceeds benefit local Junior Achievement programs.

About Junior Achievement USA® (JA):

Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA of Southwest Florida programs are delivered to students in Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties by corporate and community volunteers, and provide relevant, hands-on experiences that give students from kindergarten through high school knowledge and skills in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. Today, JA reaches more than 4.6 million students per year in 113 markets across the United States, with an additional 5.6 million students served by operations in 118 other countries worldwide. Junior Achievement USA is a member of JA Worldwide. Visit www.JA.org for more information. For more information about JA of Southwest Florida visit www.JASWFL.org, call 239-225-2590 or info@jaswfl.org.

Spearfishing tournament at Matanzas on the Bay reels in more than $800 for FGCU Spearfishing

Matanzas on thePhoto 1 - Ft. Myers Freedivers Bay on Fort Myers Beach recently hosted the FGCU Spearfishing Pelagic Rodeo to benefit the FGCU Spearfishing sports club. The freediving-only spearfishing tournament featured raffles and prizes, which raised more than $800 to benefit future FGCU Spearfishing events and tournaments.

The tournament aimed to promote safe and responsible freediving, while offering local spearfishermen the opportunity to test their skills and enjoy the sport of spearfishing. Divers competed within the Gulf waters stretching between Marco Island and Venice, and the tournament concluded with a weigh-in ceremony at Matanzas on the Bay.

Offering 100 percent payout, cash prizes were awarded to the biggest fish for each category as well as the top three overall winning teams. Overall winners included Ft. Myers Freedivers in first place, Saltwater Syndicate in second place and Red Tide Spearfishing in third place.

Category winners included:Photo 2 - Saltwater Syndicate-FGCU

Amberjack, 104.85 pounds

Team: Ft. Myers Freedivers


Africa Pompano, 9.4 pounds

Team: Stella


Barracuda, 31.85 pounds

Team: Redtide Spearfishing


Cobia, 48.30 pounds

Team: Shootin Seamen/NeriticPhoto 4_2


Snapper, 32.55 pounds

Team: Ft. Myers Freedivers


Permit, 31.90 pounds

Team: Stella

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 commitmentPhoto 3 - Red Tide Spearfishing to use as many 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 Dockside 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.



Retina Health Center awarded patents for eye drop imaging technology to monitor patient eye drop technique and compliance

Dr. Alexander Eaton

Retina Health Center has been issued design patents for a new eye drop imaging device developed by Eaton and his colleagues at Retina Health Center. The patents, No. D750773 and No. D751702 and were awarded on March 1 and 15 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The utility patents on the device are still pending.

Understanding patient ability to properly instill their eye drops and comply with a prescribed regiment at home is critical in helping eye doctors select the right treatment option for a patient.  Until recently, getting accurate data on patients’ at-home drop installation has not been possible.   Indirect measures of eye drop use have been used such as weighting the bottle to determine how many drops were used or electronic monitoring systems that can determine if the bottle was picked up or inverted, but existing systems have not been able to determine if the drop(s) actually got into the eye.  A patient can think they are complying but if they forget to take the top off the drop bottle, or they miss their eye and the drop lands on their lid or face, they may not be receiving the benefit of the medication they have been prescribed. To monitor patients’ eye drop technique and compliance, Retina Health Center physicians developed a new compact imaging device to allow physicians to monitor patient eye drop use at home, as well as during patient visits at Retina Health Center offices.

Using the newly developed imaging system created by Retina Health Center, the physicians have launched the first-ever at-home studies to evaluate the drop delivery and compliance of patients at home.  Prior to use at home, patients were trained on the use of the device in the clinic and then completed the in-clinic portion of the studyEye Drop Imaging Device-2.

A collaborative study between Retina Health Center and the Konowal Vision Center followed 37 post-surgical cataract patients in the clinic phase and 38 cataract surgical patients participated in the home study.  Following the videotaping, researchers compared the actual video to the patients’ reporting of the number of drops applied and how many drops landed in the eye.  Patients were found to consistently underestimate the number of drops they applied while trying to get a drop in their eye, and overestimated the number of drops that actually landed in their eye.

Retina Health Center also evaluated the number of patients that can properly apply a drop, which is to deliver one drop per application without the tip coming in contact with the eye lashes, the eye itself or the skin. Nearly 90 percent of patients were not able to properly deliver the eye drops at least once during the clinic phase. In the at-home phase, none of the subjects were able to perform proper drop applications for every attempt during their regimen.

“The results show that there is great opportunity to improve drop delivery with the direct feedback patients can get from our easy-to-use device,” said Eaton. “This pilot study has confirmed previous reports of difficulties that patients experience when administering eye drops, and has further shown that thePatent imaging device can provide a unique insight for physicians and patients alike. During drop administration, patients often blink and the drops may land on the lid and/or the conjunctiva, all of which happened quickly, making it very difficult to determine what exactly happened by the patient. Our study shows that the imaging system can provide physicians with an objective measurement of when and how many drops are getting into the patient’s eye. We are hoping that the imaging system will help physicians tailor therapeutic decisions more accurately for each patient and can help researchers evaluate new drop therapies. We are optimistic that much the way athletes view videos of themselves to improve their game, that patients, physicians and physicians’ staff will be able to use the videos to improve their drop technique and that this will result in better outcomes and less waste for people throughout the world.”

An Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved study is currently under way to evaluate if the system can be used to improve drop delivery in patients that have difficulties with drop installation and compliance.  In addition to helping patients, physicians and their staff, the device may help manufacturers improve their understanding of how the eye drop bottle shape and tip shape can affect a patient’s drop delivery and compliance, and can help them determine if medications they are evaluating Eye Drop Imaging Device-3for FDA approval are being used at the proper time and are actually properly getting into the patient’s eye.

Retina Health Center and the Macular Degeneration Research Center were established in 2002 by Dr. Alexander M. Eaton, a long-time Southwest Florida resident, who has been practicing ophthalmology in Lee and Collier counties for more than 20 years. Dr. Eaton has been the principal investigator for numerous studies to prevent and treat macular degeneration, and has invented numerous medical devices for use by patients and physicians that are used worldwide. For more information on the latest studies or to make an appointment, call 239-337-3337 in Fort Myers or 239-793-5200 in Naples, or visit www.retinahealthcenter.com.

Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest ranks fourth highest-grossing charity auction by Wine Spectator

Cheryl and Dave Copham cheering by Michael Shapiro PhotographyWine Spectator has released its top 10 U.S. Charity Auctions of 2015, and the 2015 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest ranked fourth highest in the nation. Held at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club, last year’s Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest raised $2.2 million through ticket sales and auction lots and brought in an additional $1.1 million through fund-a-need donations, bringing the total raised and donated to $3.3 million.


“We are honored that Wine Spectator has ranked the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest among the top-grossing wine fests in the country,” said Elaine Hawkins, board president of SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. “This was all possible due to the $350,000 contributed by generous trustees and sponsors to underwrite the cost of the event so that every dollar raised at the two-day festival serves our region’s children and students. To achieve this highly regarded ranking is a truly reflection of the generosity of the Southwest Florida community.”


The SWFL Children’s Charities Inc.’s annual signature fundraiser, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, has raised $15.6 million over the past seven years. The nonprofit, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. donates 100 percent of the event proceeds to three local beneficiaries. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida is the primary beneficiary of the event, and the money raised helps to fund the building of the new family-centered children’s hospital that will provide new and expanded medical services and subspecialty services to children from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. In addition to providing funds for the new state-of-the-art Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. supports pediatric health care programs and provides scholarships for students at Florida SouthWestern State College and Florida Gulf Coast University. For more information, visit www.swflwinefest.org.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida earns three ADDY Awards at 2016 American Advertising Awards ceremonies for AdFed Suncoast

Magic Under the Mangroves - InvitationThe Conservancy of Southwest Florida was recognized with three ADDY Awards at the 2016 American Advertising Awards ceremonies for AdFed Suncoast. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s marketing team earned two gold ADDY Awards under the Sales & Marketing category for Special Event Material with the Magic Under the Mangroves™ invitation and campaign. The Conservancy’s marketing team also received a silver ADDY Award under the Online Interactive category with the Magic Under the Mangroves™ web banner, featured on the Conservancy of Southwest Florida website. The team includes Director of Communications and Marketing, Catherine Bergerson, Graphic Design and Production manager Kate Kintz and Marketing Coordinator Greg Willette.

Since 2008, Kintz has won 28 ADDY Awards for her exceptional design work for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

Presented by the American Advertising Federation, the ADDY Awards are the industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting more than 40,000 entries each year in local AFF Club competitions. The local Ad Club competitions are the first phase of a three-tier national competition.

About tMagic Under the Mangroves - Save the Datehe 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, Fla., 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.