To the editor:
These days, it's challenging for local entrepreneurs to know where the Southwest Florida economy is headed. Economic uncertainty, particularly in our real estate-driven marketplace, has left even the most astute visionaries wondering what Lee County will look like 30 years from now. Truth be told, it can be hard to foresee where the market will be in five years.
It's comforting to consider the historical perspective. The uncertainty of today is nothing compared to what it was 30 years ago, when business leaders first began taking a chance on Southwest Florida. In the 1970s, few people outside of the immediate area had ever heard of Fort Myers, even as a vacation destination. The city certainly didn't have the notoriety of other Florida destinations such as Orlando, Miami or even Daytona Beach. It was unknown territory.
Only a few special people recognized the market's potential and took a risk by investing here in the 1970s and early 1980s. Among the first business leaders to enter the Southwest Florida marketplace during this time were Daniel Dosoretz M.D. of 21st Century Oncology and Tony Lapi of 'Tween Waters Inn.
In 1982, Dosoretz relocated to Fort Myers to establish Radiation Therapy Services Inc./21st Century Oncology. He is president and CEO of this company, which now has 98 practices serving cancer patients in 15 states. As general manager of 'Tween Waters resort, Lapi relocated here in the mid-1970s and has since transformed the resort into an internationally known vacation destination.
These two business leaders, who were recently selected to be inducted as Laureates into the Junior Achievement Lee County Business Hall of Fame, are perfect examples of the entrepreneurial spirit that has put Lee County on the map. As they continue to lead, innovate, achieve and give back, they will most certainly impact the area's future.
I would like to invite the business community, and anyone curious about these local pioneers of enterprise, to join us for the Lee County Business Hall of Fame event to benefit Junior Achievement programs on April 20, 5 p.m., at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Estero. We'll learn about these visionary men, celebrate their achievements and recognize them as outstanding role models.
By participating in this event, as a sponsor or as an attendee, you'll also support Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida and its mission to preserve free enterprise. To learn more about how you can help JA cultivate and inspire the next generation of business leaders, call the Junior Achievement office at 239-225-2590 or visit www.jaswfl.org .
Steve Pontius , Executive Vice President/General Manager, Waterman Broadcasting
Co-Chair, 2011 Business Hall of Fame, Lee County