Keeping tabs on Marco’s business pulse

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Book about Marco selling well

A new book chronicling the transformation of Marco Island from an alligator-infested swamp to one of America’s top travel destinations has become a No. 1 local bestseller.

“Over this past year no book, local or otherwise, has come close to selling more,’’ said Theresa Unsworth, owner of Sunshine Booksellers’ two Marco Island locations.

Ditto at the Marco Island Historical Museum.

“It’s not only our No. 1 best-selling book, it’s the No. 1 item sold this past year in our gift shop,’’ said Lori Wagor, the museum’s Enterprise Manager.

Author Michael Coleman, who produced Marco Island – Florida’s Gulf Playground, in conjunction with a collection of local writers and historians, describes it as “a compelling 110-page editorial and photographic narrative that was launched earlier this year in celebration of the modern era’s 50th anniversary.”

The Sun Times was a major sponsor/media partner, and more than 3,000 copies have now been sold.

“We anticipated the sales momentum to slow during the off season but that was not the case,’’ said Unsworth. “With season now upon us, we expect interest in the book to continue. “It’s quite simply the perfect island keepsake for locals and visitors alike.’’

From curses, a kidnapping and buried gold treasure to sun-drenched beaches, savvy global marketing and million dollar mansions on perfectly carved man-made canals, the book chronicles the island’s many novel-like twists and turns through present day.

“It’s almost impossible to fathom all that has occurred on Marco Island over the years given its small geographic size and remote location, ‘’ says Coleman. “Yet, its conversion from sacred Indian ground and backwater trading post to the posh resort/leisure community it is today is nothing short of miraculous.’’

The book is available at the following Marco Island locations: Sunshine Booksellers, north and south Collier locations; Marco Island Historical Museum; Marriott, Marriott Crystal Shores, Hilton and Marco Beach Ocean Resort gift shops; Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce; Marco Island Center for the Arts gift shop; Jo-Ann Sanborn's Sunshine Studios in The Esplanade; Beachworks, Town Center; Make A Memory; China Rose Florist; Keep In Touch Cards, Gifts & More, Shops of Marco; Shells by Emily; Rose Marina gift shop; Barry Howe Photography booth at Farmer’s Market; Hideaway Beach gift shop; Progressive Auto Center and Paradise Seafood & Gourmet Market.

It is also available on-line at: www.marcoislandbook.com

Contributing authors, writers and photographers were Elizabeth "Betsy'' Perdichizzi, Don Farmer and Chris Curle, Tom Williams, Marion Nicolay, Quentin Roux, Joel Gewirtz and Barry Howe.

Economic summit reflects optimism

A growing local regional economy, increased tourism, a positive real estate market and the promise of a major local “economic driver” in the form of the soon-to-be JW Marriott resort were the salient points coming out of a recent Marco summit.

It was hosted by the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors, attracting about 75 people.

Economist Christopher Westley noted that local regional leisure and hospitality employment had increased since the 2008 downturn, for example, and that optimism about the economy prevails at the moment.

Of interest, said Westley – who is Director, Regional Economic Research Institute & Professor of Economics at FGCU – is that economic growth continues to recover here more strongly than elsewhere in the United States.

“We are growing and optimistic while the national economy is a mixed bag,” he said.

Convention and Visitor’s Bureau director Jack Wert presented an overview of his expanding department, and reiterated that it is funded solely by tourist development tax, as are museum operations and beach renourishment in the county.

He said it’s encouraging that the “off season” continues to shrink, making Collier a close to year-round destination, and said a vital tier to regional development would be by encouraging “hi-tech, high wage” industries to relocate here.

On the real estate front, appraiser and consultant Cindy Carroll said that although Marco was a “difficult place to analyze statistically,” it is significant that cash sales on the island have been running at 67 percent as opposed to Naples’ 55.5 percent.

She said the island’s single family residence market was down 16 percent in 2015 over 2014, but that year-to-date condo sales are up 20 percent respectively.

“Water direct condos are the hottest market right now,” Carroll said.

Marriott GM Rick Medwedeff said additions to the resort, which included an extra wing as well as plenty of updates to the existing property, would turn out to be “an incredible economic driver for the area,” with more employment opportunities and ripple effects from corporate visitors familiarizing themselves with Marco and maybe showing interest in personally relocating at any given point.

Medwedeff said the recent 90-day closure (that saw a new kitchen installation, complete renovation of two restaurants, lobby improvements and the entranceway) ran about $1 million a day in expenses.

The eventual figure for the three-phase project that ends early in 2017 has been put at more than $250 million.

Tangible salute to Veterans

With Veterans Day on the horizon, at least two local law firms have pledged legal assistance to eligible military and other “heroes,” providing free wills and basic estate planning documents.

Legal Aid, in conjunction with the law firm of Cohen & Grigsby and other private pro bono attorneys, will be preparing basic estate planning documents such as Wills and Advanced Care Directives free of charge to Veterans (and their spouses) on Saturday, November 7, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the law offices of Cohen & Grigsby at the Mercato shopping center in North Naples. Cohen & Grigsby’s offices are located above the Bravo restaurant.

Any veteran interested in participating is urged to register in advance by completing the online registration form on Legal Aid’s website - http://www.collierlegalaid.org/wills-for-heroes. The event is open to all qualified “heroes” who can provide their military ID on November 7. However, due to the growing popularity of this event we ask that all who want to attend fill out the intake form in advance and email it to Legal Aid. For more information call 298-8138.

The initiative is also designed to assist police officers, reservists, first responders, emergency personnel and firefighters. Appropriate ID must be presented demonstrating service in these sectors. Retired Veterans can use their VA card. All of our local Heroes can participate and receive these free services.

Locally, the Law Offices of William G. Morris, P.A will do wills for veterans and active military during November. Call 642-6020 or visit wgmorrislaw.com.

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