Laura Ruane, Fort Myers News-Press Published 4:40 p.m. ET Oct. 4, 2018
Excellence in Lee County’s business community was celebrated Thursday at the Horizon Council and Lee County Economic Development annual Industry Appreciation Awards, presented at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs.
The five award categories and the seven winners were:
Business of the Year: FineMark National Bank & Trust
Since its founding in 2007, FineMark has become one of the fastest growing financial institutions in the country.
It has been awarded the Bauer Financial 5-Star Superior Rating for the past 28 consecutive quarters.
The locally owned and privately held financial institution employs 172 people who have an ownership stake in the company.
Employees at all levels serve in the community. Since the bank’s inception, total charitable contributions have surpassed $6 million.
Business Citizenship: Edison National Bank
(one to 50 employees)
Over its 20 years, the bank has given almost $2.5 million in sponsorships, donations and support to the community, including more than $200,000 last year alone.
Bank leadership gives generously of their personal time, talents and resources to benefit those in need through local nonprofits, serving as leaders who inspire other businesses, employees and customers.
Robbie and Geoff Roepstorff walk on stage to accept the Business Citizenship Award, small category, during the 2018 Industry Appreciation Awards on Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs.Buy Photo
Robbie and Geoff Roepstorff walk on stage to accept the Business Citizenship Award, small category, during the 2018 Industry Appreciation Awards on Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. (Photo: Amanda Inscore/The News-Press)
Business Citizenship: Pavese Law Firm
(more than 50 employees)
The firm is one of the largest legal practices in Southwest Florida.
It’s recognized for applying the law to such causes as preserving state lands, supporting important infrastructure projects and helping to establish major institutions such as Florida Gulf Coast University.
Attorneys and staff also donate generously to local charities, provide leadership on multiple boards and contribute about 600 volunteer and pro bono hours annually.
Diversity in Business: Lee Health
Since its founding 100 years ago in Lee County, when segregation was still prevalent, this Southwest Florida nonprofit health care system has transformed itself to better serve a diverse community.
Its diversity department, DiverseLee, champions inclusiveness, being culturally responsive to clients’ health needs, hiring the best employees from diverse backgrounds, and offering programs and training that better equip employees.
Nonprofit of the Year: Alliance for the Arts
(operating budget less than $1 million)
The alliance has worked to transform lives and improve Lee County through the arts since 1975. It recently added services for minority artists and performers, as well as audiences with special needs.
It coordinated data collection for the “Arts & Economic Prosperity 5” study in Southwest Florida.
Nonprofit of the Year: The Heights Foundation
(operating budget more than $1 million)
The foundation works to build strong, self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood south of Fort Myers, where the poverty rate is more than twice Lee County’s average.
The award-winning nonprofit’s 14,000-square-foot center offers educational opportunities for children and adults.
It’s an innovator, reaching out to new partners and creating new programs to enhance people’s lives.
Start-up of the Year: Testimonial Tree
This rapidly growing young business averaged more than 100 percent growth yearly since 2014.
It is based in Estero and serves more than 1,000 customers.
Testimonial Tree automates customer satisfaction surveys, spreading word-of-mouth referrals through a members website, social media and online review sites, using algorithms and patent-pending technology.
About the awards program organizers:
The Horizon Council is a public-private board established in 1991 to advise the Lee County Board of Commissioners on economic development issues.
The Lee County Economic Development Office works to attract businesses and improve the business environment in Lee. For information, visit leecountybusiness.com or call 239-533-6800.