Finalists Named For 2021 Industry Appreciation Awards

Horizon Council, Horizon Foundation and Lee County Economic Development to honor businesses

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2021) – Superior quality, strong ethics and resiliency are at the heart of what makes this year’s Industry Appreciation Awards (IAA) unlike any other year. Twenty-one of Southwest Florida’s top companies have made the list of finalists for the event taking place at Caloosa Sound Convention Center in downtown Fort Myers. The winners will be recognized at the annual IAA luncheon hosted by the Horizon Council, Horizon Foundation and Lee County Economic Development on Friday, May 14.

Businesses will be honored in seven categories:

Business Resiliency and Innovation Award – Recognizes a business that successfully pivoted its operations, products or services to be resilient and respond to the needs of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has proven its resiliency by not only surviving but thriving during a crisis and may have shifted to focus on a different set of customers in a new horizontal or vertical market. The business embraced challenges, listened to customers and conducted careful research in order to successfully shift operations for the betterment of the company, employees and the community. The finalists are:

  • Fort Myers Brewing Company
  • Sanibel Captiva Community Bank
  • Sewing Boutique

Large Business of the Year — Awarded to a Lee County company that has been in business six or more years under the same corporate name and ownership. The company must offer high-quality products and services, provide superior customer service, demonstrate strong ethical standards, be community minded, actively support employee development, and exhibit exemplary leadership within its industry and with its clients, contributing to the economic growth and free enterprise of Lee County. The Large Business of the Year category is for companies with 51 or more employees. The finalists are:

  • NeoGenomics Laboratories, Inc.
  • Owen-Ames-Kimball Company
  • Stevens Construction, Inc.

Small Business of the Year – The same criteria apply as the Large Business of the Year, but companies may not have more than 50 employees to be eligible. The finalists are:

  • Architectural Metal Flashings
  • Iron Ridge Insurance Services
  • Stickboy Creative

Innovator of the Year — Recognizes a local business that develops innovative advanced technologies in its own business or industry and has had a positive economic impact in Lee County. The finalists are:

  • Cigent Technology, Inc.
  • Energy Harness Corporation
  • Metro Forecasting Models

Manufacturer of the Year — Awarded to a Lee County manufacturing business that exhibits excellence in leadership, performance, profitability and workforce relations. The finalists are:

  • Black Onyx World, LLC/Alikay Naturals
  • Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats
  • Storm Smart

Start Up of the Year — Awarded to a company founded in Lee County in the last three to five years that has overcome challenges and demonstrated continued growth in revenue and staffing to emerge as a business leader. The finalists are:

  • 239Work
  • Gather
  • Seed & Bean Market

Community Steward of the Year — Awarded to a company that partners with nonprofits, community organizations and programs to improve the quality of business and civic life in Lee County through financial or volunteer support. The finalists are:

  • Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida
  • Florida Repertory Theatre
  • The North Law Firm

The Lee County Economic Development Office provides business assistance to retain existing businesses, attract new businesses and encourage entrepreneurship to ensure Lee County has a strong economy, thriving communities and broadly shared prosperity.


The Horizon Council is a public-private advisory board established in 1991 to advise the Lee Board of County Commissioners on economic development issues. The council’s mission is to improve Lee County’s business environment, retain and encourage expansion of existing businesses, and attract new and diversified employers. It is the only public-private partnership of Lee County Government and business leaders.


The Horizon Foundation Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization established as a fundraising vehicle enabling people and businesses to actively support the program of work of the Horizon Council and the Lee County Economic Development Office. For more information, visit or call 239-533-6800.

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