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Client Headlines Report: 2023 Year in Review

margaritaville ribbon cutting

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. 

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. 

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. 

Foxtail Coffee Co. opened a café in Naples that offers a full coffee menu, breakfast products, light lunch offerings and merchandise. 

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. 

Southwest Florida Proton celebrated the final pour of its foundation for a cutting-edge cancer treatment center being built in Estero. 

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. 

  • NBC2: Island Cow restaurant on Sanibel reveals rebuilding plans after devastating fire 

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. 

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

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. 

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

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 

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

40 Under 40: Business Observer (Lloyd Roofing, CRS Technology Consultants, The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, SalusCare and Chicken Salad Chick

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

Chamber Awards: Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce (Stevens Construction, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Fort Myers Brewing and Community Cooperative

Companies to Watch: GrowFL (Pro-Tec Plumbing & Air and Fort Myers Brewing

Spirit of Community Awards: Florida Commission on the Status of Women (Guadalupe Center and NAMI Collier

2023 Inc. 5000: Inc. Magazine (Stevens Construction, MY Shower Door and D3 Glass

Top Entrepreneurs: Business Observer (Fort Myers Brewing and Priority Marketing

Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year: Small Business Development Center at FGCU (Fort Myers Brewing

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

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. 

Oscar-nominated actress Mariel Hemingway delivered a keynote address full of hope and inspiration at NAMI Collier’s Hope Shines Luncheon. 

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 

Megan Marquardt, The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company 

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 

Chanukah: The Jewish Federation of Greater Naples 

Christmas: Better Together 

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. 

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. 

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