While you can get lost in the pictures from the RKOI site, or be inspired by the Millionaire Mentor’s Pinterest images on working hard to attain wealth, the original Millionaire’s Club was right in Fort Myers. As a post for the Civil War and the Seminole Indian War, the small territory wasn’t incorporated as a town itself. A gentleman who used to run mail in and out of the territory moved his family down there in 1866. In 1881 part of the Glades were dredged to make way for development and, just 4 years later, the town was incorporated. It’s location on waterways attracted Thomas Edison and he picked up a 12-acre parcel. When the railroad extended its line to include Ft. Myers, in 1904, it started gaining momentum in residents. During WWI, Edison saw the US’ dependence on foreign rubber supply and set out to establish a domestic alternative. He partnered up with Harvey Firestone (of Firestone Tires) and Henry Ford (of Ford Motors) to develop a rubber from plants that could be grown. This started the importation and sampling of thousands of tropical plants. The trademark palms that line McGregor Avenue were planted by Mr. Edison from his project. His massive botanical garden was the base of operation in FL, which sent samples to his second lab in NY. Being such close friends, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone both bought parcels of land adjoining Thomas Edison’s and they would often vacation all together. This was the original Millionaire’s Club. After testing over 17,000 plants, Mr. Edison found a workable plant source, unfortunately, right near the end of his life. It was 1931, he was 84 years old. Upon his death, this project and research was turned over to the US Dept. of Ag. The three men have left their marks on the city, with statues, bridges and estates still named in their honor (although the estates have been passed over to the city for historical preservation and tours). Something you don’t hear a lot about are Sister Cities. This was an initiative set up by Eisenhower in 1956. His intent was to have international cities “sister” with one another, in an effort to promote similarities abroad and promote tourism by the mere fact of people feeling familiar with a foreign territory. He figured international diplomacy started on a people to people basis and wasn’t to be solely the responsibility of government heads to heads. Fort Myers has a Sister City in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Their climates, agricultural development and prominence of athletes (Fort Myers boasts many hometown football, baseball and golf talents and Santiago; baseball) make them similar enough. Fort Myers is keen on investing in businesses and has grants available for interested entrepreneurs. It’s tradition of “bright minded” locals will carry on long after Mr. Edison’s light.


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