“Have you heard what’s happening in Immokalee lately?”

So proclaims the joyful editorial in the November 29 edition of the Naples Daily News

Yes, that's right: the Naples Daily News triumphantly boasted of all the advancements and growth occuring in today's Immokalee.  And Immokaleans are grateful for the shout out! 

You won't be able to read the full editorial unless you're a paid subscriber to the Naples Daily News but we'll quote for you a few passages and you'll get the idea how proud the newspaper seems to be of the progress being made in our community:

"It’s encouraging to see one announcement after another about big plans that could sustain Immokalee, a community that for a long time rose or fell on the success of its seasonal crops.

"As documented this summer by Daily News reporter Maria Perez, young adults who came from field labor or blue-collar families are returning to Immokalee with degrees and specialized training to pursue their adult lives where they were raised. The draw of professionals with degrees back to their hometown can help lead the way long-term in reducing Immokalee’s poverty, with about 4 of 10 residents living below the poverty line.

"2000 census data showed that 3.8 percent of Immokalee residents 25 and older had an associate, bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree. That rose to 6.1 percent for 2008-12, based on updated census data.

"A group of Immokalee High School students tinkered with their grandmas’ recipes to develop a line of food products with a taste of Immokalee. So far they have a spice mix, a fire roasted tomato and jalapeño sauce, orange zest chocolate chip cookies and an idea for an Immokalee hamburger. They recently debuted two of their products at Wynn’s Market in Naples.

"Not coincidentally, the theme of this year’s Immokalee Foundation event was Hope Grows, and sponsors say it set a fundraising record with more than $2 million in donations. Students who have emerged from poverty to pursue their own careers are helping give hope to today’s students assisted by the foundation.

"Yet other forms of excitement planned for Immokalee keep its agricultural and ranching roots in place. The Seminole Tribe of Florida plans to host a rodeo in late January. Fire Chief Paul Anderson, who is leading an Immokalee Fire Control District that is making strides to emerge from near-bankruptcy five years ago, planted the idea. He hopes it will help the district identify more volunteer firefighters. Under Anderson, the district has seen its fire insurance rating improve and is working toward catching up on building inspections that fell by the wayside with its budget crisis during the Great Recession.

"About six months ago, years of planning by the Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency came to fruition with a nearly $1 million public plaza and park at First and Main streets. The gathering spot has wood benches and a landscaped area next to a band shell.

"Another initiative in the works involving the CRA is a plan with the Safe & Healthly Children’s Coalition of Collier County and other organizations for Immokalee Ciclovia early next year. The event would feature families coming together weekly to walk, run and cycle the streets of Immokalee.

"Meanwhile, the Seminole Tribe is helping direct the community forward. Part of the vision is a new four-story hotel on the site of the Seminole Casino Immokalee.

"Other plans for major new projects emerged this year, including a Walmart at Westclox Road and North 15th Street that will add jobs and eliminate long trips for those in town needing to get to a discount outlet, now dozens of miles away."

Yes, ineed, have you heard what's happening in Immokalee lately? 

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