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FORT MYERS, Fla. (Dec. 8, 2020) – The Horizon Council, Horizon Foundation and Lee County Economic Development Office (EDO) seek applications for the 2021 Industry Appreciation Awards (IAA), which celebrate the Lee County business community and recognize outstanding local businesses that have positively influenced Southwest Florida. The honorees and finalists will be recognized during the annual IAA luncheon on Friday, May 14, 2021, at Caloosa Sound Convention Center in downtown Fort Myers. Applications must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 31, 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Horizon Council, Horizon Foundation and Lee County EDO have added a special award category for the 2021 IAA event. The Business Resiliency and Innovation Award will recognize a business that successfully pivoted their operations, products or services to be resilient and help the community during COVID-19. These companies have proved their resiliency by not only surviving but thriving during a crisis and may be companies that shifted to focus on a different set of customers in a new horizontal or vertical market. These businesses 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.
Businesses will be honored in six additional categories:
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 its financial or volunteer support.
Innovator of the Year – Recognizes a local business that develops innovative advanced technologies in its own business or in its industry and has had a positive economic impact in Lee County.
Manufacturer of the Year – Awarded to a Lee County manufacturing business that exhibits excellence in leadership, performance, profitability and workforce relations.
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.
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.
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.
To access applications or for additional information please visit
The IAA will be part of a larger two-day celebration of business in Southwest Florida that will also include the Blue Chip Awards. For more information or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Horizon Foundation Chief Fundraising Consultant Dilman Thomas at 239-810-1948 or [email protected]
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 with the mission and purpose to support, foster, and encourage the economic development and diversity of business interests in Lee County. The Foundation provides financial, advisory and other support for the Lee County Economic Development Office and the Horizon Council as well as financial and other support to such other organizations and entities that the Foundation determines will promote and complement the interests and mission of the Foundation, the EDO and/or the Horizon Council.

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