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NFM Dine Local discount program unveiled

April 26, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The Lee County Economic Development Office wants people who drive through or live in North Fort Myers to become patrons of the area's restaurants.

That's why Develop North Fort Myers, a Horizon Council and Lee County EDO initiative, this past week launched a North Fort Myers Dine Local Discount program to promote locally-owned restaurants.

A dozen local restaurants are offering various discounts to cardholders through the end of the year. Cards, as well as a list of participating restaurants and discounts, were made available this past weekend at the Taste of North Fort Myers at the Shell Factory. They are now available at, and can be downloaded and used on Smartphones.

"This initiative gives us an avenue to market the many quality restaurants that exist in North Fort Myers and drive new business to them," said Dan Eveloff, Commercial Revitalization Task Force chair, in a statement.

Rachel Busch, of the EDO, said the idea was to stop the revolving door of failed restaurants that keep happening at certain locations throughout the area, especially in the commercial corridor.

"Some of these restaurants aren't doing as well as they could. They may be great at doing tacos but they aren't marketing themselves well," Busch said. "Many owners are working in their business but not on their business."

Busch said members of the Commercial Revitalization Task Force had seen how the dine local programs had worked well and that doing that could raise awareness. It's easy and cost-effective.

"We went to the restaurants and it was well-received. We focused on the locally owned ones," Busch said. "We wanted it to be easy with across-the-board discounts, but the restaurants wanted a different structure, such as 10 percent of their whole bill or just off an entre."

Busch also said some restaurants didn't want to discount for alcohol or tips, so the flexibility made it helpful for more restaurants to sign up.

The program was tried out last week by the task force at Las Brisas and everyone had a great time, Busch said. She hoped those restaurants that participated in the "Taste" would sign up if they hadn't already done so.

The hope is that members of the work force downtown, where the wait to get into restaurants can be long at lunchtime, will go across the river and take advantage of the options here, helping to further revitalize the area.

"We're marketing the assets already in North Fort Myers and bringing new business across the bridge and bringing the synergy from downtown," Busch said. "The more people you bring to North Fort Myers, the more opportunity you have to change the perception."

The program is under the Develop North Fort Myers umbrella, which is looking to stimulate development, promote investment, attract businesses and encourage higher wage jobs in three areas that have lagged in the economic recovery: North Fort Myers, the Dunbar section of Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres.

The Horizon Council is a public-private advisory board established in 1991 to advise the Lee County Board of Commissioners on economic development issues.

The Lee County EDO provides business assistance to retain existing businesses, encourage entrepreneurship and to attract new businesses.

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