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Business, tourism celebrated at annual Chrysalis Awards

May 25, 2016
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

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 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."

Nominees are judged on long-term sustainability, 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 and Marketing: Florida SouthWestern State College

- Sports: City of Palms Classic Basketball Tournament

- Junonia Award: Ellis Etter

It began with a trade show, featuring over 50 businesses. Tamara Pigott, VCB executive director, and Coleen DePasquale, chamber executive director, 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.

"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 local tourism community for decades. He was 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.

The Shell Factory was nominated for the first time, though owner Tom Cronin was among the first Junonia Award winners.

Cronin's wife appreciated it.

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

Nominees, by category, were:

Business Development

- Cape Spirits/Wicked Dolphin Rum

- Chico's FAS

- Comcast B4B

- Fleamasters

- Kelly L. Fayer, P.A.

- Lizzie's Lights

- Painting with a Twist

- REfrindly

- The Hertz Corporation

- The Shell Factory and Nature Park

Cultural Achievement

- ArtFest Fort Myers

- Edison & Ford Winter Estates

- Gulf Coast Leisure Movement

- Lee County Alliance for the Arts

- Painting with a Twist

- Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Association


- Captiva Cruises

- Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane

- Lovers Key State Park

- Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

- Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm

- Wright Construction Group


- Denise Spence

- Florida Gulf Coast University - Colloquium

- FutureMakers Coalition

- Lee County Library System

- Nicole King

- Pure Florida Fort Myers

- SWFL Regional Technology Partnership

- The Heights Foundation


- City of Palms Classic Basketball Tournament

- Edison Sailing Center

- Galloway Captiva Tri

- Perfect Game

Sales and Marketing

- ArtFest Fort Myers

- Bruno Air Conditioning

- Captiva Cruises

- Domain Realty Group

- Florida Everblades

- Florida SouthWestern State College

- Fort Myers Miracle

- VIP Realty



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