Industry Appreciation Awards

Celebrating Lee County businesses that drive the local economy, employ our workforce and shape their industries.

Join us for Lee County’s 30th Anniversary of Industry Appreciation Awards ! This year’s awards ceremony will be held on October 27, 2023!! 

Superior quality, strong ethics and resiliency were at the heart of what made 2021’s Industry Appreciation Awards (IAA) unlike any other year. Twenty-one of Southwest Florida’s top companies made the list of finalists for the event that took place at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center in downtown Fort Myers. The winners were recognized at the annual IAA luncheon hosted by the Horizon Council, Horizon Foundation and Lee County Economic Development on Friday, October 22, 2021.

Businesses were 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 winners are:

  • Fort Myers Brewing Company

  • Sanibel Captiva Community Bank

The finalist is:
  • Sewing Boutique

Jen and Rob Whyte of Fort Myers Brewing accept the 2021 Industry Appreciation Business Resiliency and Innovation Award
John Wright Kyle DeCicco and Amy McQuagge accept the 2021 Industry Appreciation Business Resiliency and Innovation Award

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 winner is:

  • Stevens Construction, Inc.

The finalists are:

  • NeoGenomics Laboratories, Inc.

  • Owen-Ames-Kimball Company

Mark Stevens Dan Adams and Terri Sobeck of Stevens Construction receive the 2021 Industry Appreciation Large Business of the Year Award

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 winner is:

  • Stickboy Creative

The finalists are:

  • Architectural Metal Flashings
  • Iron Ridge Insurance Services
Matt Bernhardt and Felix Lulberes of Stickboy Creative accept the 2021 Industry Appreciation Small Busines of the Year Award

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 winners are:

  • Cigent Technology, Inc.

  • Energy Harness Corporation

The finalist is:
  • Metro Forecasting Models

Evan Lutz of Cigent Technologies accepts the 2021 Industry Appreciation Innovator of the Year Award
Michael Fischer CEO and Felicitas Tucker of Energy Harness Coporation accept the 2021 Industry Appreciation Innovator of the Year Award
Manufacturer of the Year — Awarded to a Lee County manufacturing business that exhibits excellence in leadership, performance, profitability and workforce relations. 

The winner is:
  • Storm Smart

The finalists are:

  • Black Onyx World, LLC/Alikay Naturals

  • Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats

Brian Rist Brian Cassell and David Erlechman accept the 2021 Industry Appreciation Manufacturer of the Year Award

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 winner is:

  • 239Work

The finalists are:

  • Gather

  • Seed & Bean Market

Konrad Proos of Two39 Work accepts the 2021 Industry Appreciation Startup of the Year Award

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 winner is:

  • Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Property Southwest Florida 

The finalists are:

  • Florida Repertory Theatre

  • The North Law Firm

Gary Tasman Michael Christopher and Heather Adams accepts the 2021 Industry Appreciation Community Steward Award
Click here to learn more about each award

IAA Introductory Video

IAA Event Photos