Futurist Watts Wacker encouraged hospitality leaders to drum up like-minded tribes at the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau’s annual Team Tourism Summit Thursday.
They gathered at Estero’s Coconut Point Hyatt Regency -- itself a major destination.
As keynote speaker, Wacker talked about using niche marketing to facilitate neo-tribeing -- that is bringing like-minded people together.
As an example, he referred to a good friend who’s a passionate nature photographer.
“He was telling me how light is what makes photography and the light when you want it is at sunrise and sunset – but all of the local state and federal lands around here weren’t open at those times,” he said.
The point being the resort hotel has a private island but shuttle boats only run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Expand the hours, market to the right tribe and grow business, he concluded.
The Visitor and Convention Bureau also announced its new marketing partnership with MMG Worldwide.
Goals for the current fiscal year include increasing overall visitation by 1-1/2 percent.
The hospitality industry employs approximately one in five people in Lee County and has an annual economic impact of $3 billion.
Methods for saving energy ranged from simple to eclectic at the Charlotte County Economic Development Office’s third Annual Energy Options Conference Wednesday.
Participants shared unique ways of harnessing energy while learning about a program for fostering new ideas for saving energy.
Charlotte County has raised the thermostats in its buildings and installed sensors to turn off lights when people leave offices. This has resulted in significant savings.
But how about harnessing ocean energy to power offices and buildings? Dr. Stephen Wood with the Florida Institute of Technology is working on ways to do just that.
“Why is it that everyone is focusing on wind power and solar power when right here off the coast we have a tremendous amount of power,” he said. “When you think of the density of water versus the density of air you can have a much, much smaller propeller in the water to get the equivalent of a gigantic propeller in the air.”
Wood and his students have developed two prototypes they’re testing right now.
If ocean waves are abundant, so is sunshine in Florida. Regenesis Power has installed solar arrays around the state including at Florida Gulf Coast University and the Florida governor’s mansion.
But, Regenesis Vice President Dell Jones is touting a solar plan he says can create lots of jobs, reduce the average family’s electric bill by 20 percent and lead to a greener Florida. Jones said this can be done by paying the company $34.95 a month to install and maintain a solar water heater.
“If you give it to the electric utility – typically half of everyone’s electric bill is fuel. And what do you with fuel? You burn it. So literally we take what otherwise would have been given to the electric utility who will spend it on fuel and literally burn it, we keep that money in the local businesses and the local economy,” he said.
A strategy still in the development stage for increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles was also on the agenda. Darryl Keyes is the CEO of UK-based DieselMist Corporation. Its idea is to run vehicles off a mix of diesel and propane. Keyes said this kind of innovation is the path to the future.
“I think all new technologies gives sort of various opportunities. There are obstacles to overcome. And, I think if we think like we always did then we never progress. So, I think the key is to embrace these new technologies these new ideas, new patterns and harness them for mass market production,” he said.
And, Charlotte County is looking for more new ideas. It’s doing that through its Innovation2IndustryFlorida program. Inventors and others are invited to submit proposals for new, green technology to the county’s Economic Development Office between now and the end of the year.
Three winners will be announced in March. They will receive a cash prize plus free rent and maintenance on office space in Charlotte County for two years. The county’s Sharon Fumei said everybody wins.
“We’re in economic development. We want to bring business to this county. We want jobs for the people here. We want growth for the people here. This is our way of helping foster those new entrepreneurs out there,” she said.
Details about the Innovation2Industry contest are available at www.i2ifl.com.
Fall ushers in the beginning of flu season – which is also known as the ‘flu shot season.’
It’s hard to tell whether an easy or difficult flu season lies ahead. Most people get sick in December and January. However, public health officials are urging everyone to take protective action now.
Director of the Lee County Health Department Dr. Judith Hartner says the most effective way people can protect themselves from the flu by getting an annual flu shot.
“In years past, we just talked about people who were older than 65 or people with chronic disease,” said Hartner.
“But children can be very susceptible to influenza, pregnant woman… So if you’re six months or older, we recommend getting a flu shot.”
Less than half of Americans get the vaccine. Some believe getting the shot will give them the flu. Hartner says that’s a common misconception, because the viruses in the vaccine are not living.