March 2018

Cape Coral Technical College Celebrates 25 Years
Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson, director of Cape Coral Technical College (CCTC), hosted an event 25 years in the making as a large group, including Mayor Joe Coviello and Councilmember Rick Williams, gathered to celebrate CCTC's anniversary. With a mission statement to "prepare students for employment by providing a quality, technology-oriented education delivered by a professional, caring staff in a positive learning environment," the CCTC is well-positioned to educate and place its students in gainful employment.
CCTC offers 18 programs and has approximately 250 students currently enrolled. Its programs run throughout the year so students can enroll at any time to take advantage of course offerings. Students may qualify for financial aid to avoid debt after graduation.

There are great opportunities for the trades and tech-related jobs in Cape Coral. Those entering the job market for the first time or those who are switching career paths can get a leg-up at CCTC by taking targeted classes and obtaining a certificate in their field of choice.

CCTC is located at 360 Santa Barbara Blvd. N., Cape Coral. Find out more: Cape Coral Tech or (239) 574-4440.

Millennials: Largest Demographic

According to population estimates, millennials had overtaken the baby boomers as the largest living generation in the U.S. by 2016. Millennials are defined as people between the ages of 20 and 38 (this year) and this population segment is being fueled by an influx of young immigrants. The millennial population is not expected to peak until 2036.
Recently, the Brookings Institute did an analysis of millennials and their impact on cities. Surprisingly, Cape Coral is ranked No. 7 on the list of cities with the highest growth rate of millennial population in the U.S. Our city has gotten younger and it appears that this growing generation is beginning to make its mark on Cape Coral.

But, let's not start the celebration just yet. The same study also reveals that Cape Coral is in the bottom 10 for lowest share of millennials as a percentage of our overall population. That in itself is not surprising, given the amount of retirees here and the amount of baby boomers retiring and relocating to Florida on a daily basis.
What we need to do is to create an environment that welcomes millennials and the types of companies poised to hire them into our community. We want to combat "brain drain" and ensure that our younger people who go to college will have a good job and an environment that supports entrepreneurism locally, so they remain here to live, work and raise their families. This is not an easy task and it will take some time, but it's an important effort the city is making.

New Rankings:
We're Happy and We Know It

WalletHub just released its "2018's Happiest Cities in America" report, and Cape Coral came in as the top Florida city with a ranking of No. 37 out of 180 nationwide. Cape Coral topped 10 other Florida cities. Researchers have found the key ingredients behind the science of happiness include a positive mental state, healthy body, strong social connections, job satisfaction and financial well-being. To identify "happy" cities, they dug into 28 factors to come out with this year's findings. By the way, Cape Coral made the list in 2017, too.

In addition, Cape Coral ranked 22nd out of 186 in the 2017 Community Well-Being Rankings based on surveys conducted by Gallup-Sharecare. The "Well-Being Index" is based on Sharecare's nationwide Blue Zones Project to work with communities to improve the physical and emotional health of residents, with a focus on extending longevity and enhancing the lives of seniors.

Coming Soon...
4 Wed Biz Chat Logo
4th Wednesday Biz Chat
March 28
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
815 Nicholas Parkway
Public Works Building Community Room
In partnership with the Small Business Development Center, BizChats are informative and include a free light lunch with networking opportunities. Come early to get a seat at this popular event!

Food for Thought
Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce
April 5
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Cape Coral Technical College
360 Santa Barbara Blvd. N.

Network with other chamber members and learn from a guest speaker. The luncheon is for current and prospective members, in partnership with the Southwest SCORE Chapter, FSBDC, and the Cape Coral EDO. The cost is $15 for members; $20 for non-members.  

SWFL International Trade Forum

March 29
8:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Lee County Economic Development Office, 
2201 Second Street #500, Fort Myers
Cost: Free

Wondering if exporting your product is a good idea? Recent data show that small businesses that export their products to foreign markets are outperforming small businesses that don't. Strengthen your international strategy and position your small business to be globally competitive.

This free forum features five international trade experts and is co-hosted by the Florida Small Business Development Center at FGCU and Lee County Economic Development Office. 

Expand Your Business Contracts: Reverse Trade Show

Become a contractor with local government agencies at this free event on April 19.   


The deadline to apply for U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) economic injury/physical damage loans for Hurricane Irma has been extended. The new deadline to submit applications is June 11.  

Your business did not have to receive physical damage from Hurricane Irma to be considered for a low-interest disaster loan through the SBA. Some local businesses have had success in obtaining loans for "Economic Injury" related to work stoppage associated with the storm and its aftermath. If your business received physical damage, it is possible to receive loans in both categories.  

Visit  Economic Injury Loans for more information.

New Cape Coral Businesses
Business Card top  
154  new businesses registered for Cape Coral Tax Receipts
(Business Licenses)
in February 2018.
Click here to view new Cape Coral business reports. 
Get Involved: Taste of the Cape
Taste of the Cape is scheduled for Sunday, April 8, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. This annual community happening drew 10,000-plus last year, and applications for craft and business vendors are still being accepted.  

Taste visitors and revelers will sample an international array of great food from more than 20 local restaurants, plus a wide variety of craft beers, margaritas and wine.There will be musical performances from local bands throughout the day, followed by Symphony at Sunset, featuring light classical, pops and Broadway favorites.
Find out more about becoming a vendor at this popular event:



Join our mailing list

Message From Your EDO Manager
Addressing Our Future: Millennials Invited to Have a Seat at the Table
In this month's newsletter, you'll find an article about the growth of millennials in our community. This is an important subject that needs to be addressed because the millennial population is our future when it comes to business growth now. Here and across the United States, those born between 1981 and 1996 have become a significant force in the economic landscape - in the workplace, as consumers, and as entrepreneurs.

The Economic Development Office wants to hear from millennials about what's working and what's not in Cape Coral. The EDO is hosting and coordinating a Millennial Roundtable to gather insight and feedback. As we grow as a community, we want to make sure that we are addressing our future, so having an open discussion about how to support the millennial demographic is essential.

If you are a millennial living in Cape Coral and would like to participate in the roundtable, reach out to us directly. We will invite participants to have a seat at the table on a first-come basis. If you're interested or know someone who would be a good fit, please contact us at and provide a contact name, phone number and email address.

Dana Brunett
City of Cape Coral
Economic Development Manager
Successful Developer Building Big in Hometown

Joe Bonora, managing director, Aileron Capital Management 
Joe Bonora sounds like a familiar name, it's because the 1998 Cape High School graduate is making a mark in his hometown with major multi-family housing developments.
Bonora, 38, moved to Tampa 14 years ago and started a successful real estate financing company, Aileron Capital Management. He was in town in February for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for one of his latest local projects, Midtown Coastal Luxury Living Apartments on S.W. 17th Place off Veterans Memorial Parkway. The Class A, 90-unit complex offers one and two-bedroom floor plans and has several amenities, including a clubhouse, full-service gym and saltwater swimming pool.
"It's always exciting to see the product of your work from concept to completion. It's a lot of time invested in every project, up to four years," says Bonora.
He also attended the January groundbreaking of Atrium at Liberty Park, a 131-bed assisted living facility with memory care-part of a larger complex at Liberty Park being developed by Aileron Capital. Located at N.E. Pine Island Road and N.E. 24th Avenue, the project includes the 320-unit apartment complex Uptown at Liberty Park and retail sites fronting on Pine Island Road. The development of the Uptown at Liberty Park project was assisted by the City of Cape Coral through an impact fee deferral incentive. The deferral made the finances work and allowed Aileron to access other alternative financing programs to complete the project. The project will result in more than $65 million in new investment and $337,000 in new property taxes generated annually.
Bonora's family moved from New Jersey to Cape Coral in 1987, when Bonora was 7 years old. One reason for the move: Both sets of grandparents were living in Lehigh Acres. Another, says Bonora, "Waterfront living for a fraction of what it cost to live in New Jersey-I think that was compelling." He visits his mother in the Cape each week, and his brother, who works for the Lee County Sheriff's Department.
Bonora wasn't gung-ho on higher education and didn't finish college. Instead, he chose to follow his long-time interest in investing and finance. "I always knew what I wanted to do," he says, "and I started my own company." In 2000, he opened a mortgage brokerage company, then grew into a lender. When the Great Recession hit, he earned a broker-dealer license and became a niche lender for U.S. Small Business Administration and USDA programs, financing projects such as daycares, assisted living facilities and hotels. "We tried to focus on businesses that had a barrier to entry, and required expertise or capital, so we wouldn't be competing with a thousand other people," he explains.
When the federal programs under the Recovery Act expired in 2012, Bonora's company had earmarked capital freed to invest elsewhere. "We decided to buy land and invest in Southwest Florida," he says. He developed Lee County's first new, post-recession apartment complex. The 325-unit Channelside in Fort Myers was finished in 2015, and he sold it in 2016. Investing before others were ready was part of his strategy. "Knowing the market, I was comfortable building apartments here. Large developers from out of state weren't comfortable. They thought we were still in a depression, when we were in recovery mode. We are able to act more quickly."
Indeed, he is acting quickly to make a mark. Aileron Capital Management is developing the mixed-use Grand Central on U.S. 41 in Fort Myers and recently purchased a 7.8-acre flagship development parcel in downtown Fort Myers under the name City Walk Fort Myers LLC.

Sounds of Jazz and Blues...Hosted by the City of Cape Coral

Where: Tarpon Point Marina

When: Saturday, March 24

Gates open at 5 p.m., concert begins at 5:30 p.m. and headliner Jonathan Butler performs at 8:30 p.m.

General admission: $20 in advance, $25 at the gate

"Jazz Experience" tickets: $40 in advance, $45 at the gate
VIP tickets: $75

For more information or tickets: Advanced Ticket Purchase  or ( 239) 573-3128.
What's Your End Game?
Russ Winstead, Florida Small Business Development Center

Businesses are launched and built, then sold or closed. As with everything in life, businesses face the ultimate change in status.

With this in mind, you should plan for the eventual selling or closing of your business, even if your plans change over time.

As an example, I have a 65-year-old client who purchased his business five years ago. He purchased the business feeling positive about the market ahead. The business had been neglected and going downhill for a while because the former owner had lost interest in it. My client realized that, with some focus and determination, he could turn the business around and significantly increase its value. His plan was to build up the business for about five years and then look for the right time and situation to sell it and retire.

And this is exactly what happened. His five years of effort and planning is paying off: He's ready to sell, and the business is worth twice what he paid for it.
I tell this story in hopes that you think about the future. Many business owners can become overwhelmed with what needs to be done today, this week or this month. Be sure to carve out time to consider an end game.
Here are a few things to ask yourself as you look forward to selling someday.

- Are your books in order? Can you prove your business is worth what you say it is?
- Do you have your business procedures documented and updated so someone else (besides you) can run the business?
- Do you have the right people, in the right positions, with the right knowledge, so your business can run smoothly?
- Can your business run without you for a week or a month?
- How does your business physically look? Interior appeal and amenities affect the value. Look at your business from the eyes of the buyer. What would you want to see if you were buying your business?
As always, the FSBDC is here to help you with this and other business-related questions. If you would like consultation or guidance, contact me directly or attend our free Fourth Wednesday BizChats, held at Nicholas Annex, 815 Nicholas Parkway, at 11:30 a.m.

Florida SBDC at FGCU
1020 Cultural Park Blvd., #3
(239) 573-2737

Big Blue Brewery Makes Impressive Showing at State Competition

Big Blue Brewing in Cape Coral earned four medals in the 2018 Professional Brewing Competition held by the Florida Brewers Guild in Tampa on March 4. Big Blue Brewing, at 4721 S.E. 10th Place, earned Best Beer in Florida and a gold medal for its Lightest Thing Ya Got Cream Ale and Best Brewpub in Florida. Big Blue Brewing also brought home a silver for its Let It Be Honey Brown Ale.

"This is a huge honor for our team," says Big Blue Brewing owner Bob Elardo. "Our Brewer Alex Sarames has been coming up with some really great and innovative brews and we are excited to get them to our customers."

Judges called Lightest Thing Ya Got Cream Ale "a great introductory craft beer; very light and refreshing; smooth with a very slight hint of hops; a great beer to introduce an American pale ale drinker into the world of craft beer." As a brewpub, it was noted for its brewery tours, live music and indoor and outdoor dining.
Market Watch Shows Cape Coral Real Estate Going Strong

The  News-Press
Market Watch 2018 at Germain Arena showed that Cape Coral is still a strong real estate market on all fronts.

Affordability is the name of the game and the numbers show that central and North Cape have strong growth, which is projected to continue. The commercial market is also booming and the Pine Island Road commercial corridor is coming into its own.
Presenters included Randy Thibaut, Land Solutions Inc.; Denny Grimes, president of Denny Grimes & Co.; and Stan Stouder, CCIM, founding partner with CRE Consultants. They predict that "a hiccup is coming in the next few years," but nothing like what Southwest Florida experienced during the last economic downturn.

They believe that the Cape offers an affordable alternative in the market, as does Charlotte County. They say that, if home prices in south Lee County and Collier County rise sharply, retirees and millennials will seek deals in Cape Coral and points north. At the same time, the expansion of the water utilities will position North Cape Coral for continued growth over the next several years. Cape Coral also has the largest inventory of residential building lots in Southwest Florida and that fact will continue to make the Cape a strong player in the market.

Cape Coral Hospital Earns International Recognition

Cape Coral Hospital is the first facility in Southwest Florida to receive prestigious international recognition as a Designated Baby-Friendly birth facility from Baby-Friendly USA. Currently there are 493 Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers in the United States.

"The obstetrics team at Cape Coral Hospital has worked diligently to meet the challenges of attaining this recognition," says Scott Kashman, Lee Health Chief Acute Care officer. "This is another example of following the Lee Health vision to be a national leader for the advancement of health and healing."
The Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Studio Open: Get Creative

The Cape Coral Arts Studio has fully re-opened after recovering from extensive structural damage caused by Hurricane Irma. Located in Rubicond Park in south Cape Coral, the Arts Studio offers year-round classes and programming in the fine arts and fine crafts for all ages. To ignite your creative energy, check out class offerings in a wide range of mediums in the Parks and Recreation Guide: Arts Studio Classes
Bakery owners Bess and Jeff Charles

A Sweet Reputation

Cape Coral's LadyCakes Bakery was recently named No. 8 of the Top 10 Cake Shops in Florida by Best Things Florida (
Going into its fourth year of operation, LadyCakes Bakery is owned by Bess and Jeff Charles. It was the only bakery named in Southwest Florida in the rankings, and it has already earned several awards. "We were ecstatic, although we've always known we had something special - the long hours and hard work pay off when you are recognized like this," Bess, co-owner and head decorator.
According to Best Things Florida by Americantowns Media: " Locals love this place because of their high-quality cakes that lack no detail. They also have ready-to-go cakes on a regular basis alongside their fresh cookies, brownies, and cupcakes. This makes it easy for you to add a last-minute treat to any occasion."
LadyCakes Bakery 2924 Del Prado Boulevard South, Unit 7 *( 239) 549-2253 * LadyCakes Bakery

Manateeum Fundraiser
Have you bought your tickets for the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife's elegant gala on Friday, March 23? The evening includes a catered dinner, live music and a silent auction at the Cape Coral Yacht Club from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The Friends groups is raising funds to build an environment education center at the 8-acre Sirenia Vista Park, a popular place to view manatees, fish, stroll and launch a kayak.

Individual tickets and corporate tables can be purchased online at Manateeum Fundraiser  or in person at Rotary Park Environmental Center (5505 Rose Garden Road) during normal business hours. For more information , call Rotary Park at (239) 549-4606.