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Year in Review: 22 big news headlines in 2022

Each month, Priority Marketing highlights clients’ earned media coverage in newspapers, magazines, television, radio, blogs and social media. 

As 2022 winds down, our Public Relations Team compiled a Year in Review. The list includes 22 local news stories from 2022 to read, watch or listen to before the year ends.

Nonprofits, businesses respond to Hurricane Ian 

Although the storm dealt a devastating blow to Southwest Florida, the region’s nonprofits and businesses mounted an immediate, and equally incredible, response. So many businesses launched collections and so many nonprofits hosted distribution events that Priority Marketing developed a website to connect those who need help with those who can give help. The website even featured a job board. 


United Way takes leadership role in hurricane recovery 

Immediately after Hurricane Ian, United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades sprung into action to help residents with immediate needs – food, shelter, clothing and essential supplies. Its partnership with Collaboratory help establish the SWFL Emergency Relief Fund, which has raised nearly $5 million. United Way and its partners have distributed mattresses, blankets, furniture, appliances and other items to families in need. 


Southwest Florida Music Education Center opens 

After years of fundraising, Southwest Florida Music Education Center opened its temporary campus at Artis-Naples and purchased the Gaynor building on the former campus of Hodges University in Naples. SWFLMEC is a post-secondary center for musically talented, neurodivergent young adults. Plans for the campus include a student dormitory, performance site and additional program space. 


Housing Authority breaks ground on major development 

More than 200 housing officials from across America joined The Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers for a groundbreaking ceremony for the initial phase of HACFM’s Greater Dunbar Initiative, a comprehensive transformation plan for the greater Dunbar community. The first steps are developing a 90-unit housing development and revitalization of the 199-unit Southward Village. 


United in chocolate 

Southwest Floridians love helping others and they love chocolate. Norman Love Confections combined the two to create a limited-edition #SWFLStrong chocolate boxes filled with seashell-shaped, ultra-premium chocolates featuring five local flavors: Key Lime Pie, Florida Orange, Mango, Lemon and Coconut. The fundraiser generated $36,075 to support Better Together programs assisting families impacted by Hurricane Ian. 


Local brewer earns national and international awards 

Fort Myers Brewing Company was Lee County’s first microbrewery, and recent awards provide ample evidence that it’s also the best. Fort Myers Brewing won five medals and its second consecutive title of Grand National Champion at the 2022 U.S. Open Hard Seltzer Championship. Those honors came right after its signature Chocolate Stout earned gold medals at the 2022 Great American Beer Festival and 2022 World Beer Cup.  


Conservancy announces capture of record-setting python  

Wildlife biologists at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida captured a female python that measured nearly 18 feet and weighed 215 pounds. The news was event featured in National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine and international media, bringing worldwide attention to the Conservancy’s Burmese Python Radio-Telemetry Study, which uses radio transmitters implanted in male “scout” snakes to understand python movements, breeding behaviors and habitat use. 


New culinary options debut in SWFL 

Chicken Salad Chick, a fast-casual, Southern-inspired chicken salad concept, has opened locations in Fort Myers and Estero. A third will open in January in Port Charlotte. The restaurant offers more than a dozen original chicken salad flavors as well as fresh side salads, gourmet soups, signature sandwiches and delicious desserts. 


The Library Pizza & Pub at Gulf Coast Town Center offers pub-inspired dishes alongside classic American favorites. Its menu is filled with specialty pizzas and pub favorites like fish and chips, sandwiches, salads, bowls, burgers, wings and more. 


Nosh on Naples Bay, created by acclaimed Chef Todd Johnson and his wife and partner, Dana Johnson, opened an upscale, modern dining experience at Naples Bay Resort. The new waterfront restaurant has an open-kitchen concept and offers chef-driven, global cuisine featuring small, shareable plates. 


Cancer treatment center announces location 

Southwest Florida Proton announced Estero as the future home for its new cancer treatment center that will feature cutting-edge technology, innovative cancer care and world-class radiation oncologists. Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses charged proton particles to destroy cancer cells. 


SWFL rallies behind restaurant workers after fire  

An early August fire left The Island Cow restaurant, a favorite among locals and visitors, in ruins. The Sanibel Island restaurant will be rebuilt, but in the meantime, the community is rallying behind the cooks, servers and employees with fundraisers to help offset their loss of income. Fort Myers Brewing even released “Moo Crew Brew” to benefit employees. 


Sage announces new rental community for seniors 

Sage Communities announced its first 55+ residential community, Seneca at Oak Creek, that will feature one- and two-bedroom units with full kitchens, living rooms and private porches. The project will be completed in early 2023 and help address the region’s critical shortage of rental properties designed with seniors in mind. 


Better Together, Builders Care grab First Lady’s attention 

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced that two local nonprofits, Better Together and Lee BIA Builders Care, was receiving $400,000 through the Florida Disaster Fund. “We are excited to supplement the efforts of nonprofits that are on the ground helping Floridians navigate the challenges of rebuilding following Hurricane Ian,” she said. 


Familiar face chosen to leader chamber 

The Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce announced former journalist and current Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman as the organization’s new president and CEO. In this role, Hamman directs all business, programs, projects and events of the chamber and its foundation to promote the growth of businesses and the community. 


Boys & Girls Clubs purchases Fort Myers Event Center 

In anticipation of its 50th anniversary in 2024, Boys & Girls Clubs of Lee County purchased the 14,500-square-foot Fort Myers Event Center. After a multi-year renovation project, the Park Meadows Community Club will become a flagship campus that accommodates up to 600 members annually. 


Chocolatier, tourism leaders share insight with national audience 

Peter Greenberg, an Emmy-winning travel reporter and producer, visited Southwest Florida to record his weekly radio show for CBS, Eye on Travel. Greenberg interviewed local tourism, attraction and business leaders, including chocolatier Norman Love, whose fascinating discussions with Greenberg occupied 14 minutes of the two-hour broadcast. 


Golf, tennis event breaks fundraising record 

The Bobby Nichols – Fiddlesticks Charity Foundation was founded in 2002, but its 20th Pro-Am golf and tennis tournaments in 2022 raised a record $1.7 million to support programs for abused and at-risk children in Southwest Florida. Over two decades, the event has raised more than $15 million. 


Southwest Floridians united in prayer 

An estimated 1,500 individuals of all faiths gathered at Hammond Stadium for the sunrise Community Prayer Breakfast, which featured Dr. Ben Carson as the keynote speaker. Attendees packed the grandstands to hear a message of hope and unity that coincided with the National Day of Prayer. 


Roadside attraction undergoes makeover 

The Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, an 86-year-old attraction that offers up-close and personal encounters with rescued animals, announced a series of enhancements to improve the visitor experience. Additions include guided tours, animal encounters, education packs for children, youth summer camps and special events. 


Market Trends offers state-of-the-industry overview 

Market Trends of Southwest Florida tapped the expertise and insight of local real estate experts. The signature event offers those looking to buy or sell property an opportunity to hear about interest rates, sales data and economic conditions. 


United Way crosses halfway point of 2022-23 campaign goal 

United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades announced that its Pacesetter campaign and early contributions pushed the 2022-23 annual campaign past the halfway point before the drive officially launches. In mid-December, United Way was at 53.7% of its $11.2 million goal. Donations help support more than 260 partner agencies and community initiatives. 


Mighty Mussels win games, hearts of fans 

The Fort Myers Mighty Mussels won the Florida State League’s first half title and made it to the championship series before falling in three games. Off the field, though, the minor league team won over fans with food, beer, fireworks, concerts and celebrity appearances, including Carol Baskin, Brian Baumgartner and others. 


Priority Marketing named ‘The Best’ in Southwest Florida 

Readers of Gulfshore Business Magazine named Priority Marketing as the top Public Relations Firm and top Advertising Agency through its 2022 Best of Business Awards. The firm, which surpassed 50 employees in 2022, also earned dozens of awards through the Florida Public Relations Association, American Advertising Federation, Telly Awards, Davey Awards and other recognition programs. 


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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