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Business Expo is next week

The Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Business Expo is 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, at the Marco Island Charter Middle School gymnasium, 1404 Trinidad Avenue.

The event will feature more than 40 tables with information from local businesses, nonprofits, clubs and organizations. There will also be raffles, giveaways and hor d’oeuvres from Pinchers.

“We’re very excited that Pinchers is providing the food this year,” Katie O’Hara of the Chamber of Commerce said, “and there’s a grand prize of a $500 gift card to Sunshine Ace Hardware, which one of the event’s sponsors, so it’s going to be a great event.”

Tickets are free if picked up in advance at the Chamber Information Center or $5 at the door. Carpooling is strongly encouraged. Information: 239-394-7549.

Rice new Caxambas Republican Club president

In 2011 the Big Flag Campaign spawned from an idea to put a giant American flag on the Marco Island side of the Jolley Bridge.

A committee was formed, fund raising began, and on Memorial Day 2012, a 12’x18’ American flag was hoisted onto a 50’ flag pole at the base of the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge.

Dave Rice was quoted as saying “we will never take any public money for the operation or the upkeep of the flag. We’re going to get a big pile of money for replacement of flags and maintenance. Marco is a small island, but the massive banner will help put it on the map.”

Rice was the chairman of the Big Flag Committee from 2011 to March 2017.

Keith Dameron of Iberia Bank, took over as chairman of the Big Flag Committee on March 15 as Rice took over his new role as chair of the Caxambas Republican Club.

Rice has been a resident of Marco Island since 1987.

In 2016, Rice was chair of the Marco Island Center for the Arts 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration. He was also the past recipient of the Citizen of the Year award and Volunteer of the Year award and past president of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on the Caxambas Republican Club, contact Dave Rice at marcodave@comcast.net. – Maria Lamb/Special to the Eagle

Fusion Pointe, a no-cost mentoring program

Fusion Pointe, a nonprofit group, offers a no-cost mentoring program for high-tech entrepreneurs in Southwest Florida. The goal of the program is to produce more investor-ready businesses in the region.

Many of the mentees in Fusion Pointe’s program have developed health care-related services including DocCharge, a mobile medical billing efficiency platform founded by a busy physician, and Koala Healthcare System, a technology solution that designed to improve the delivery of care at home. They are finding a fit with the mentor pool, which includes a handful of health care industry experts.

“We are starting to attract entrepreneurs from other parts of the state,” said Rob Strandberg, Fusion Pointe's executive director.

He acknowledged most startups fail, but his organization wants to increase their odds of making it. Not every entrepreneur is accepted into the mentoring program, only the ones who appear to have the greatest chances of success.

There's a pool of about 25 mentors. Some are specialized experts who jump in to help when needed with everything from computer hardware to digital market strategy.

Mentors pick the companies they want to help, so it's not an automatic assignment, Strandberg said. The mentors are active and retired executives and others with expertise in a range of areas from consumer products to applications.

Information: fusionpointe.org.

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