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Business, tourism celebrated at Chrysalis Awards

By Staff | May 25, 2016

It is always an honor for businesses to be recognized for the work they do, and Friday, at the seventh-annual Chrysalis Awards at the Harborside Convention Center, Lee County’s best got such recognition at a luncheon.

Businesses and individuals were nominated for and received awards for their impact on the local economy, proven ability to use our natural resources responsibly, or their efforts in the cultural arts, athletics, education and in marketing and promoting Lee County as a destination.

The event is a way to foster a better alliance between the tourism and business communities and is organized by the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau.

“People nominate folks in the community that have had an impact on the community in a positive way,” said Christine Davlin, training and development manager for the VCB. “Whatever they are doing to build their businesses.”

The nominees are judged on long-term sustainability, the ability to distinguish themselves and promote sustainability, efforts to promote the destination and contributions to business and tourism partnerships.

The winners were:

Business Development: Chico’s FAS

Cultural Achievement: ArtFest Fort Myers

Eco Innovation: Captiva Cruises

Education: Florida Gulf Coast University Colloquium

Sales & Marketing: Florida SouthWestern State College

Sports: City of Palms Classic Basketball Tournament

Junonia Award: Ellis Etter

The event began with a trade show, featuring more than 50 businesses. At the luncheon, Tamara Pigott, executive director of the VCB, and Coleen DePasquale, executive director of the Chamber, served as hosts.

The previous years’ winners in each category announced this year’s winners, with a video about each one before welcoming them up to receive their award.

Paul McCarthy, owner of Captiva Cruises, which was one of two businesses nominated in two categories, was thrilled by the honor.

“It’s a huge honor to win the eco-innovation award, especially here with all the people committed to eco-tourism. We’ve been in business for 30 years and we have an outstanding staff. Everyone has a strong commitment to the environment,” McCarthy said. “It gives us encouragement to move forward and continue what we do.”

Etter, general manager at the Wyndham Gardens Hotel on Fort Myers Beach, has been a staple in the Southwest Florida tourism community for decades. He was thrilled to be named among a select few individuals to receive the honor of the Junonia .

“It was a complete surprise. I always admired the people that have received this recognition. It represents what you do throughout your business career and that it’s made impressions on people,” Etter said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Many said it’s an honor just to be nominated. Many were. But there was just one from Cape Coral, Wicked Dolphin Rum, which was founded four years ago.

“We appreciate everything local organizations do for us,” said Joseph Termini of Wicked Dolphin. “We recognize the big names up there and we appreciate everything the community has done for us.”

Another nominee was the Shell Factory, which has been around a little while longer and was nominated for the first time, though owner Tom Cronin was among the first Junonia Award winners.

Wife Pam appreciated the attention.

“We’re always happy to be recognized in the community. We had some stiff competition like Chico’s. They are an amazing corporation,” Cronin said. “It’s a nice honor that people have to recognize and we’re pleased by it.”

Nominees, by category, were:

* Business Development Category:

Cape Spirits, Inc. / Wicked Dolphin Rum

Chico’s FAS, Inc.

Comcast B4B

Fleamasters, Inc.

Kelly L. Fayer, P.A.

Lizzie’s Lights, LLC

Painting with a Twist

REfrindly, LLC

The Hertz Corporation

The Shell Factory & Nature Park, LLC

* Cultural Achievement Category:

ArtFest Fort Myers, Inc.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc.

Gulf Coast Leisure Movement

Lee County Alliance for the Arts

Painting with a Twist

Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra & Chorus Association, Inc.

* Eco-Innovation Category:

Captiva Cruises, Inc.

Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane

Lovers Key State Park

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Inc.

Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm, LLC

Wright Construction Group, Inc.

* Education Category:

Denise Spence

Florida Gulf Coast University Colloquium

FutureMakers Coalition

Lee County Library System

Nicole King

Pure Florida Fort Myers

SWFL Regional Technology Partnership, Inc.

The Heights Foundation, Inc.

* Sports Category:

City of Palms Classic Basketball Tournament

Edison Sailing Center

Galloway Captiva Tri

Perfect Game, Inc.

* Sales & Marketing Category:

ArtFest Fort Myers, Inc.

Bruno Air Conditioning

Captiva Cruises, Inc.

Domain Realty Group

Florida Everblades, LLC

Florida SouthWestern State College

Fort Myers Miracle

VIP Realty, LLC