Priority Marketing’s Client Headlines Report recaps news stories that you should read, watch or hear before the month ends. As 2023 comes to a close, our award-winning Public Relations Team has compiled a special Year in Review that showcases the top stories of the year.
Year-round, our clients and partners earn notable media coverage in newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, and on blogs, social media and websites.
Below are just some of the many important stories that were published or aired in 2023.
New places to visit, stay
Southwest Florida’s economy remains on solid ground, and as Market Trends noted this spring, the region’s growth will continue into the foreseeable future. Notable grand openings in 2023 included:
TPI Hospitality’s Margaritaville Beach Resort opened in December on Fort Myers Beach, bringing 254 guest rooms and six restaurants to a community needing an economic jolt following Hurricane Ian.
- Fort Myers Beach Observer: Margaritaville ushers in new era on Fort Myers Beach
Seneca at Oak Creek, a new 55+ rental community in North Fort Myers developed by Sage Communities, opened with 184 one- and two-bedroom units.
- Cape Coral Breeze: Seneca at Oak Creek holds grand opening
The Jewish Federation of Greater Naples celebrated the opening of its Nina Iser Jewish Cultural Center, a 20,000-square-foot gathering place for the Jewish community.
New spaces to dine, drink
Southwest Florida continued its emergence as culinary destination for foodies and connoisseurs of all types. These brands joined the market in 2023.
Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, a winery, restaurant, artisan market and Napa-style tasting room concept, opened in Fort Myers.
- Sunny 106.3: Sneak Preview Of New Fort Myers Cooper’s Hawk
Savour Coffee, which offers locally roasted coffee, breakfast, lunch and pastries, opened in south Fort Myers.
- The News-Press: Savor every sip, flavor at new south Fort Myers coffee shop
Foxtail Coffee Co. opened a café in Naples that offers a full coffee menu, breakfast products, light lunch offerings and merchandise.
- Daily Coffee News: Couple Plans 10 Foxtail Coffee Locations in Southwest Florida
Still to come: Developments in the works
Numerous commercial projects broke ground in 2023 that will change the retail, restaurant and residential industries in Southwest Florida.
Bimini Square, a mixed-use development in Cape Coral brought by Crown Development, will include luxury apartments, health care, waterfront dining and a marina. GMA Architects is designing Deep Lagoon Seafood and Oyster House.
Slipaway Food Truck Park & Marina broke ground on a waterfront destination in Cape Coral that will feature music, food and outdoor fun.
Sunshine Ace Hardware confirmed it will open several new stores across SWFL in 2024 and 2025.
- Naples Daily News: Here are some of Collier and Lee County’s newer, hotter, growing retail corridors
Southwest Florida Proton celebrated the final pour of its foundation for a cutting-edge cancer treatment center being built in Estero.
- Florida Trend: South Lee proton therapy cancer center celebrates site foundation, Lee Health subsidiary partnership
The Island Cow on Sanibel Island announced plans to rebuild its restaurant, which will feature Florida-style details such as a metal roof with a thatched roof entryway, outdoor tiki bar, indoor/outdoor bar and vibrant colors.
Owners of the iconic Island Cow and Mad Hatter plan to open Wickie’s Lighthouse Restaurant and The Magic Bus Ice Cream & Caffeine on Sanibel Island.
- Sanibel Island Reporter: Island restaurateurs to open Wickie’s Lighthouse, The Magic Bus
Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm was purchased by local restauranteurs and will transition to Blossom & Brie Farmside Dining through a deal brokered by Worthington Realty and LSI Companies.
- North Fort Myers Neighbor: Rosy Tomorrows sold to longtime Southwest Florida entrepreneurs
One year later: SWFL’s hurricane recovery
Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in September 2022, continued to impact the region in 2023, when signs of recovery were plentiful across Southwest Florida.
Captiva Cruises’ Lady Chadwick, a 65-foot flagship vessel that can accommodate 148 passengers, resumed its cruise schedule.
Matanzas on the Bay reopened its upstairs bar, Petey’s Upper Deck, in Fort Myers.
The Charity Pros hosted a star-studded lineup for its Hurricane Heroes benefit concert, which recognized individuals and organizations that went above and beyond after Hurricane Ian.
- Beach Talk Radio: Charity Pros Announces Hurricane Heroes
Client awards and recognitions
Priority Marketing’s clients and partners are among the region’s leading organizations, frequently earning local, statewide and even national honors. Below are just some of the honors awarded in 2023.
Industry Appreciation Awards: Horizon Foundation, the Horizon Council and Lee County Economic Development (United Way of Lee County)
- Naples Daily News: Resiliency, innovation, leadership, among the traits of top Southwest Florida companies
Top 30 Nonprofit CEO Power Influencers of 2023: Community Foundation (ECHO; Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties; Child Care of Southwest Florida; Guadalupe Center; United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades; Jewish Federation of Greater Naples; SalusCare; and Community Cooperative
- The News-Press: Southwest Florida’s top 30 nonprofit leaders of 2023
Philanthropy Day Awards: Association of Fundraising Professionals (Avow Foundation, Guadalupe Center, Lee Health/Lee Health Foundation, Hope Healthcare and Community Cooperative)
Men & Women of the Year: Gulfshore Life (Sunshine Ace Hardware)
- Gulfshore Life: Men & Women of the Year 2023
40 Under 40: Business Observer (Lloyd Roofing, CRS Technology Consultants, The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, SalusCare and Chicken Salad Chick)
- Business Observer: 40 Under 40 class of 2023 are dreamers and doers
40 Under 40: Gulfshore Business (Pace Center for Girls, Lee; Pro-Tec Plumbing & Air; CRS Technology Consultants; Better Together; Guadalupe Center; United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades; Chicken Salad Chick; Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties; and Strayhorn, Persons-Mulicka & Fisher)
- Gulfshore Business: Meet the 40 Under 40 Class of 2023
Chamber Awards: Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce (Stevens Construction, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Fort Myers Brewing and Community Cooperative)
- Florida Weekly: Chamber celebrates businesses, leaders at awards dinner
Companies to Watch: GrowFL (Pro-Tec Plumbing & Air and Fort Myers Brewing)
- Business Observer: Seven companies in region make GrowFL top 50 list of fast-growth companies
Spirit of Community Awards: Florida Commission on the Status of Women (Guadalupe Center and NAMI Collier)
- Above Board Chamber of Florida: Spirit of Community Award Winners
2023 Inc. 5000: Inc. Magazine (Stevens Construction, MY Shower Door and D3 Glass)
- The News-Press: 22 SWFL privately held companies made Inc.’s top 5,000 this year
Top Entrepreneurs: Business Observer (Fort Myers Brewing and Priority Marketing)
- Business Observer: Business Observer celebrates six top entrepreneurs
Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year: Small Business Development Center at FGCU (Fort Myers Brewing)
- Gulfshore Business: Small Business Week brings big honors for 25 SWFL entrepreneurs
National stars lend voices to local causes
Local organizations saw their missions and causes amplified through influential leaders with national audiences.
Two-time national champion, first-round NFL draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow delivered the keynote address at the 2023 Southwest Florida Community Prayer Breakfast.
- Christian Television Network: More than 2,000 people attend Community Prayer Breakfast
Academy Award winning actress, producer, director, best-selling author and mental health advocate Goldie Hawn was the keynote speaker for David Lawrence Centers’ Sound Minds gala,
The internationally acclaimed rock band Matchbox Twenty joined other performing artists for The Charity Pros’ Hurricane Heroes benefit concert at Hammond Stadium.
- Happenings Magazine: Hurricane Heroes concert features Matchbox Twenty, Don Felder
Oscar-nominated actress Mariel Hemingway delivered a keynote address full of hope and inspiration at NAMI Collier’s Hope Shines Luncheon.
- Spotlight News Magazine: Mariel Hemingway offers hope and inspiration
NBC News Anchor Lester Holt was inspired by a Fort Myers teen whose nonprofit, BelieveNBooks, provides books to students at Guadalupe Center, devoting a four-minute segment to tell the story.
New faces land leadership roles
Businesses and nonprofits saw a surge of talent join their organizations in 2023, including a pair of individuals who were named presidents within their respective organizations:
Robert Goltz, Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce
- SWFL Business Today: Robert Goltz named new president and CEO of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce
Megan Marquardt, The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company
- Business Observer: $3.9 billion trust company names a Fort Myers office president
Southwest Florida celebrates the holiday season
Our clients and partners host a variety of events throughout the year, but they truly go above and beyond for the end-of-year holidays.
Holiday Season: Norman Love Confections
Thanksgiving: Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County
- Florida Weekly: Boys & Girls Clubs celebrate Thanksgiving with ‘club family’
Chanukah: The Jewish Federation of Greater Naples
- Naples Daily News: Hundreds attend Chanukah Festival of Lights in Naples
Christmas: Better Together
- Lehigh Acres Citizen: Better Together hosts holiday toy drive to support families in need
Notable passings of inspirational leaders
The end of a year offers a period to reflect on the lives of those who have passed away, including two individuals whose impact will be felt for years to come.
Frank Haskell, who co-founded Barbara’s Friends, worked tirelessly for three decades to help local children win their battles with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders. Through his efforts, Barbara’s Friends raised $25 million that has supported more than 10,000 children at Golisano Children’s Hospital.
- South Florida Hospital News & Healthcare Report: Frank Haskell, 93, local hero for children with cancer, dies
B. Pat O’Rourke, who served 20 years as a business development specialist for the Lee County Economic Development Office, devoted his retirement to giving back. He was a donor and volunteer for United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties, Pace Center for Girls, Lee and numerous additional charitable causes.
- NBC2: Stories 2 Share: After passing, former Lee County leader surprises loved ones with act of generosity
Do you need a Public Relations Team to help tell your story? Please give us a call today at 239-267-2638 or send an email to LetsTalk@PriorityMarketing.com.