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Visibility and financial heft don’t necessarily equal influence according to Florida Trend magazine, which spent a significant amount of time researching and compiling their list of Florida’s Most Influential Business Leaders, 17 of which reside right here in Southwest Florida.

According to the criteria set forth by Florida Trend, which includes categories used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the US Department of Commerce, these leaders love Florida, understand the issues our state faces, and are committed to not only their personal endeavors, but their communities as well.

Candidates for the list were asked a series of questions including what they considered to be the biggest issue that Florida currently faces, what personal challenges they have faced throughout their careers, and what their outlook is for the future of their respective industries. Some questions dug a little deeper to give us a more intimate peak at the men and women who are influencing Southwest Florida.

The fashion maven and Chico’s FAS CEO, Shelley Broader, has a side fascination with the medical field, reading medical journals and websites in her spare time. Garrett Richter, President, CEO & Director of First Florida Integrity Bank was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, a Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Phil Wood, CEO of the luxury real estate brokerage John R. Wood Properties, loves nature parks and has historically been known to collect antique bottles, some with beautiful patent medicine labels that claim to cure every disease known to man. Local Attorney Laird Lile has managed to see “Hamilton: An American Musical” 14 times, and Marketing and Public Relations guru Tina McCain Matte is hot on his heals counting 13 times at Hamilton.

“It’s an honor to be recognized in this list of impressive local business professionals,” said Phil Wood. “There are so many positive aspects to living in Southwest Florida and the people certainly underscore the value that can be found in our area.”

The list of 500 Floridians was broken out into 16 sections including agriculture, arts/entertainment/ sports, education, energy, finance/insurance, hospitality/tourism, information/tech/media, law, life sciences, living legends, manufacturing, philanthropy/non-profits, professional services, real estate, retail/wholesale, and transportation.

“It’s a misperception that Southwest Florida is strictly a retirement town,” adds Garrett Richter. “The community is full of vibrant business owners and investors who care about the success and enrichment of the area. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and to be included on this list of distinguished influencers.”

Florida has always drawn its fair share of celebrities like Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jimmy Buffett, and Governor Jeb Bush, all of whom made the list, but it is the local influencers right here in Fort Myers and Naples that should not be overlooked.


  1. Allen Weiss, President and CEO, NCH Healthcare System, Naples
  2. Bruce Sherman, Co-Founder, Private Capital Management; Majority Owner, Miami Marlins, Naples
  3. Caroline Beasley, CEO, Beasley Broadcast Group, Naples
  4. Don Huffner, President and CEO, Collier Enterprises, Naples
  5. Douglas Vanoort, Chairman and CEO, Neogenomics, Fort Myers
  6. Garrett Richter, President, CEO and Director, First Florida Integrity Bank, Naples
  7. Gary Tice, Chairman, First Florida Integrity Bank, Naples
  8. Kathryn Marinello, President and CEO, Hertz, Estero
  9. Laird Lile, Attorney, Laird A. Lile, Naples
  10. Mitch Hutchcraft, VP, Real Estate, King Ranch, Fort Myers
  11. Phil Wood, CEO, John R. Wood Properties, Naples
  12. Reinhold Schmieding, Founder and President, Arthrex, Naples
  13. Scott Lutgert, Chairman, Lutgert Cos., Naples
  14. Shelley Broader, President and CEO, Chico’s FAS, Fort Myers
  15. Timothy Cartwright, Chairman, Tamiami Angel Funds, Naples
  16. Tina McCain Matte, Partner, Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and Public Relations, Fort Myers
  17. Tom Grady, Founder and CEO, Gradylaw/Continental Equities Group, Naples

The Florida Trend’s Editor sets forth a challenge to readers: identify two people on this list that sound interesting to you, and make a point to meet them.


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