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APRIL 2017

Southwest Florida BUSINESS TODAY

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Socially conscious investors fund pioneering company Investors are raising $250,000 in capital for Taste of Immokalee, a Florida corporation that is breaking new ground in socially responsible investing. In a special partnership between Naples-based Tamiami Angel Funds and the Community Foundation of Collier County, investors in Taste of Immokalee will know their investment will benefit underprivileged children in eastern Collier County who are learning to become entrepreneurs. Launched three years ago by Immokalee High School students, Taste of Immokalee sells hot sauces, spices, salsa and barbecue sauces in stores such as Publix and Winn Dixie. Under the mentorship of experienced Naples business leaders, the students from the socio-economically underserved area learn valuable hands-on business lessons such as developing social-media campaigns and

merchandising activities at local festivals, schools and retail outlets. Taste of Immokalee is a benefit corporation, a newly permitted Florida corporate structure that lets companies pursue both profits and community benefits. Traditionally, companies either had to register as for-profit or not-for-profit but the state approved this new hybrid structure in 2014. This hybrid corporate structure gives the company’s directors the ability to pursue both the community benefits and the profits as their mission. “Taste of Immokalee students pitched their company to our sophisticated investors and we were won over by their entrepreneurial drive to succeed,” said Timothy Cartwright, chairman of Tamiami Angel Funds, member-managed funds that invest in promising young companies. “They are at the vanguard of the trend of social investing, which consid-

What does favored status have to do with a star performer? Star performers (employees) are often given favored status because they generate significant revenues for a business (employer), are exceptional performers at getting their own job done while taking on additional assignments without complaining or are well liked by their boss or the owner of the company. Star performers are often envied by other employees and are perceived to receive preferential treatment from management by their coworkers. While perceptions are very difficult to change, perceptions can be managed by ensuring that workplace rules apply to all employees equally, including star performers. Star performers should never be allowed to bend or break rules and suffer no consequences for doing so. Why? First, a star performer who breaks work rules without consequences has an adverse impact on employee morale overall, especially if the star performer’s co-workers are disciplined when they violate the same work rules a star performer violated but was not disciplined. Secondly, allowing star performers to violate work rules without consequences can lead to liability, especially if the star performer sexually harasses an employee or when a protected-class co-worker is terminated for violating work rules that a nonprotected class star performer violated but was not terminated. While it is great to have star performers and all businesses need them,

rarely can a star performer perform all necessary roles in a business. What good is the revenue that the star performer brings in if the star performer is actually costing the business through BY CHRISTINA increased exHARRIS SCHWINN penses due to Guest Columnist employee turnover resulting from low morale? Turnover expenses are often overlooked, but have a real impact on a business’ bottom line. If your business is experiencing high turnover, there is a reason. Finding out the true cause of a high employee turnover rate might just save your business from an unwanted lawsuit or from bankruptcy. Revenue is good, but profit is more important to a business. Star performers who produce revenues, but not profit and create unwanted liabilities in the form of future employment claims filed by co-workers are not star performers. Rather, they are liabilities and should be shown the door

Favored status and star performers

Christina Harris Schwinn is a partner and an experienced community association, employment and real estate attorney with the Pavese Law Firm. She can be reached by email at

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ers both financial success and community benefits to create social change.” Cartwright believes this new initiative with the Community Foundation called the Tamiami Angels Impact Investing Initiative will create similar socially responsible investment opportunities in the future. Tamiami Angel Funds raised an initial $12,000 from their members, which will be deposited in a special account set up by the Community Foundation for the benefit of Taste of Immokalee. This allows investors to claim a tax deduction because they donated the shares in the company to the nonprofit Community Foundation. “This is the kind of groundbreaking endeavor that the Community Foundation was designed to facilitate and we hope this is the first of many such corporate efforts to benefit other causes such as

restoring the environment and improving human health,” said Eileen ConnollyKeesler, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Collier County. The capital that Taste of Immokalee raises will be used to bring the manufacturing and distribution to Collier County and boost sales to achieve profitability, said Steve Stolz, board member of Taste of Immokalee. The company has contracted with a Sarasota-based firm to produce and package the sauces and salsa, but long-range plans include production in Immokalee. The nonprofit 1 By 1 Leadership Foundation of SWFL helped the students launch Taste of Immokalee in 2014 with the help of grants from insurance giant State Farm. “This is all about the kids,” says John Lawson, executive director of the foundation. “They can build it to sustainability.”

Architects merge companies

Two vetty, fire stations, eran architects shopping centers, with more than government build60 years of ings, restaurants, combined ex7-Elevens and perience have much more from merged their Florida’s panhancompanies to dle to Naples. create CastellaLee County Tramonte nos + Tramonte Castellanos projects include Architects, a renumerous locagional architectural firm specializ- tions of Culver’s and Rib City, ing in commercial design. Orion Bank in Cape Coral, GasArt Castellanos serves as presi- troenterology Associates of dent of the newly created firm on Southwest Florida, Advanced Pain SE 46th Street in Cape Coral. Ja- Management and Spine, Neverson Tramonte caps a 37-year ca- mind Restaurant, Laguna Lakes reer in architecture as the founder Clubhouse, Time Warner Cable, and project manager. The firm cur- Providence Christian School, Asrently employs five people. sociates in Dermatology, Associ“Jason and I share the same ates in Digestive Health, Hope passion for designing facilities Methodist Church and others. that are creative, functional and Castellanos has more than 25 meet the needs of our clients,” years of experience in architecture Castellanos said. “We believe that working in both public and private having extensive working rela- settings. He served as the architionships with local, city, county tect for the Lee County School and state agencies is a large part District for 10 years and worked of the success of our projects.” in commercial enterprises such as A ribbon-cutting and grand WCI Communities and McGarvey opening reception for clients and Development prior to starting his the public is planned for Thurs- own architectural firm in 2014. day, April 6, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tramonte has a 37-year career at the Cape Coral office. in architecture and has been an Together, the team has designed owner or principal of a firm bearmore than 150 buildings through- ing his name since 1979. Prior to out Florida, including high-profile starting his firm in Cape Coral in projects on the Ava Maria Uni- 1992, he worked with architecturversity campus in Collier Coun- al firms in Florida and Louisiana.

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April 2017 Southwest Florida Business Today  
April 2017 Southwest Florida Business Today  

Southwest Florida's Business to Business publication