Lee County has been named to the list of Forbes’ best cities for job growth. The projected annual rate of job growth through 2016 for the city of Cape Coral is 3.7%, placing it sixth on the list. The overall job growth for Lee County is slightly higher at 3.95%.
Florida’s economy saw a huge boost in the early part of the 2000s, with rising home prices and businesses moving to the area. Even during that time, the unemployment rate was only 3.3%. Still recovering from the recession, the current unemployment rate is now at 5.40%, which is .90% lower than the national average.
The Lee County Economic Development Office’s initiative to strengthen key growth industries in Lee County will only help further the projected job growth for the area. Medical technologies, aviation, information services and the distribution/logistics industries are all industries to watch over the next few years.
For information on the Lee County Economic Development Office, please visit http://www.leecountybusiness.com/.
The Lee County Economic Development Office recently released a migration study report analyzing the trends in population in the area. Based on data collected by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and Statistics of Income Division, the trend is positive for Lee County.
There are more people than ever moving to Lee County. The annual population growth for migration is 31,549 as reported in the 2011 findings. Even more interesting is the number one county that influences this number. Collier County loses an average of 3,426 residents a year to Lee County, while on average only 3,277 Lee County residents move to Collier County each year.
The report also investigated the migration of people moving to Lee County from other counties within Florida. The findings showed that Florida residents on the east coast show steady migration to Lee County year-over-year. Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties showed the highest concentrated migration of all east coast Florida counties.
The annual average move from east coast counties to Lee County:
“The results of this research are significant,” said Rick Michael, director of the Lee County Economic Development Office. “They confirm many of the key points we promote to businesses looking at relocation and prove that Lee County is a great place to live and do business.”
To review the entire migration study, visit http://leecountybusiness.com/images/Mreport.pdf
For more information on the Lee County Economic Development Office, please visit http://www.leecountybusiness.com
The Lee County Economic Development Office (EDO) is continuing its focused efforts in developing the manufacturing/logistics industry to become one of the top industries in Lee County. This is part of a larger plan to develop industries that would create high paying and highly skilled jobs in the area.
Entertainment Metals, a high-tech production facility that focuses on fabricating live sound equipment, is a great example of the benefits of moving their business to Lee County. The business was started in Gainesville about five years ago, but CEO Kevin Kirchner and his business partner saw growth opportunities in Fort Myers, and with the help of the Lee County EDO decided to move them here.
Now just over two years later, the business is flourishing and has brought more jobs to the area. Some of the benefits that Entertainment Metals saw in Lee County were the easy access to shipping services through the Lee County Port Authority Southwest Florida International Airport, the available land space and the proximity to international markets.
“Working with the EDO has helped our business thrive in Lee County in several ways other than financially,” says Kirchner. “They’ve strengthened our relationships within the community to allow us to continue to grow in the way we had always envisioned.” Entertainment Metals currently works with several local companies, like Hertz corporate headquarters, the Fort Myers Miracle Stadium and the SWFL Performing Arts Center in Bonita Springs.
The manufacturing capabilities for Entertainment Metals are vast, including audio, video, broadcast, touring, theatrical, systems rental and installation services for many industries. They handle custom manufacturing needs for businesses large and small, filling a niche in between the large manufacturing areas of Miami, Tampa–St. Petersburg, Ft. Lauderdale–Hollywood, and Orlando.
Currently Kirchner is excited to be working on their expansion of the in-house anodizing process. Anodizing is a process used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of metal parts to reduce corrosion and wear of the metal. It also provides better adhesion for paint primers and glues. As well as receiving more specialized jobs from high-end industries, like aerospace and medical, he plans on needing additional employees within the next year. “Since we are using the products ourselves, we pay attention to the small details and that makes a difference to our customers.”
Lee County isn’t the only one getting behind the growth of the manufacturing and logistics industry in Florida. Governor Rick Scott recently made a stop at Entertainment Metals during his “Jobs for the Next Generation” tour to discuss his determination to continue giving the manufacturing industry tax breaks on equipment sales. It’s estimated that this saves manufacturer’s more than $140 million annually.
For more information on why smart businesses have relocated to Lee County, what resources are available, and other business opportunities and incentives, please visit the Lee County Economic Development Office website at www.leecountybusiness.com or contact our Economic Development staff at (239) 338-3161.
Lee County provides a tax-exempt financing option for qualifying industry projects through the Lee County Industrial Development Authority (IDA). The IDA promotes business development in the Lee County area, encouraging both local and relocating companies to explore the use of Industrial Development Revenue Bonds to finance their projects.
Bonds may be issued at interest rates below the prime-lending rate for projects engaged in manufacturing, distribution, as well as research and development. Businesses meeting the program guidelines and requirements who wish to obtain such financing are encouraged to apply. Financing is also available to non-profit organizations seeking funding for capital improvement projects in Lee County.
"The IDRB funding can be used for land acquisition, building acquisition, new construction, renovation, as well as equipment and machinery. Additionally, businesses will be looking at a discounted rate - in some cases at 75-80% of current prime rates."
Rick Michael, Director, Lee County Economic Development Office
For more information about the Lee County Industrial Development Authority, The Lee County Economic Development Office, or other incentive programs available to businesses, please contact the Lee County Economic Development Office at (800) 330-3161. You may also visit the EDO website at leecountybusiness.com to start the application process.
While Lee County may not currently be considered the mecca for distribution, the area has some highly valuable characteristics that make it an ideal candidate for supply/product housing and distribution for large companies. And, as a part of a concentrated plan to attract high paying, high skilled jobs to the area, the Lee County Economic Development Office has selected the distribution/ logistics industry among the top of the target industry list. So what does Lee County have to offer companies in this industry? The following three natural alignments make it an obvious choice for some, even creating buzz at national tradeshows recently.
There are two indicators that drive the logistics industry to establish operations in an area, population and geographic location. Lee County is now paying close attention to both with target industries in mind, defining areas of opportunity. Lee County is growing quickly, and with that comes an increased work force; In Lee County that workforce is educated, either through traditional collegiate education or programs made available through partnerships with local schools and universities such as Florida Gulf Coast University. Geographically speaking, proximity is the key word. Lee County provides proximity to major seaports, the South America and other international markets, and even houses a free trade zone.
Speaking of shipping resources, Lee County offers strong air service including the Lee County Port Authority Southwest Florida International Airport. There are also eight additional airports in the county including Page Field, located just south of downtown Fort Myers. These resources fulfill the ‘just-in-time shipping’ needs of the industry, including small components shipped by air.
Opening a store and need a warehouse and distribution center? Considering whether existing distribution centers are close enough, as well as if they can handle additional demand is important. Sometimes building an additional facility is necessary. Lee County has an abundance of available properties and warehousing space. From Metro Parkway to the Bayshore Road distribution and warehouse corridor, land in Lee County provides close proximity to the tri-county area with quick access 1-75, U.S. 41 and State Road 80.
Lee County has much to offer the distribution and logistics industry. From prime location to transportation and available land, there’s something here for virtually every need. For more information on why smart businesses have relocated to Lee County, what resources are available, and other business opportunities and incentives, please visit the Lee County Economic Development Office website at www.leecountybusiness.com or contact our Economic Development staff at (239) 338-3161.
The Lee County Economic Development Office has announced plans to target four specific industries as part of a concentrated plan to attract high paying, high skilled jobs to the area.
Top on the list of industries are medical device/medical technologies, aviation, information services, and distribution/logistics. These industries are being sought after because of the natural alignment between their needs and the offerings of Lee County.
Medical Device / Medical Technologies
Lee County encourages innovation and fosters high-wage job creation. Local companies such as NeoGenomic Laboratories, Arthrex, 21st Century Oncology, and several others are experiencing tremendous growth and success. Naturally, our goal is to work with these companies as much as possible to help maintain their growth momentum, and attract complementary companies to help ensure even more success.
The aviation industry is soaring in Lee County. Businesses and residents are served by Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW), one of the top 50 airports in the U.S.
Facilitating 20 airline partners, RSW provides non-stop service throughout North America as well as international service to Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. The airport is also a designated Foreign Trade Zone; and ships more than 35-million tons of cargo annually.
Directly adjacent to RSW is a core component of future development in Lee County: Skyplex - one of the country's most premier economic development sites. Skyplex is home to 1,150 acres of prime aviation, multi-use commercial, and light industrial zoned real estate.
In a 2013 Microsoft issued Big Data report entitled, “Customers Rapidly Adopting Big Data Solutions – Driven By Marketing, Sales, and More,” it was estimated that 75% or more medium to large companies will be implementing a big data solution within the next twelve months. Businesses of all sizes are relying heavily on information – and this reliance is creating a wealth of new analytics companies, and positions. From local health care data needs, to competitive business analytics, information is now a key focus of all businesses. Training workforce locally, and attracting current analytics professionals and companies that support business information needs, stands to add tremendous value to both the local workforce, and the Lee County business community as a whole.
Distribution / Logistics
Lee County has the distinct advantage of being the most populous and strategically located area within the rapidly expanding southwest Florida region. Due to our prime position within a growing area of the state, and a generous supply of commercially zoned property and raw land, the Economic Development Office has already launched an in-depth data study on third party logistics companies, and big box retail distribution centers across the state. These strategic efforts will help the outbound recruitment team target optimal opportunities for companies looking to locate within our community for business related needs.
In addition to new research projects, the Economic Development Office has already commenced outreach efforts in the form of direct communication, trade show attendance and other recruitment focused activities. Among the services we can offer prospective businesses are site selection assistance, demographic and statistical information, employee training and recruiting, community tours, and various incentive packages.
As a part of this effort, we will be publishing regular blog posts on our website highlighting the various industries, why Lee County is an ideal selection for each, and examples of other similar businesses succeeding in the area. For information on the Lee County Economic Development Office, please visit http://www.leecountybusiness.com/ or contact our Economic Development staff at (239) 338-3161.
Focused on Lee Country Transportation Options, Event Recognized Two Teams
Lee County recently participated in the 2014 National Day of Civic Hacking, hosting a local “hackathon” made possibly by the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant. The local event focused on improving Lee County transportation and resulted inseveral concepts that show tremendous promise. The Lee County Economic Development Office will be working with the Metropolitan Planning Organization to see how they move forward as these initial concepts are considered for further development.
The event took place May 31 and June 1 in over 100 cities around the world. The events showcased local talent including software developers, computer programmers, project managers, and many others. The participants used publicly available data with the intent of both improving our community, and aiming to expand and improve multi-modal transportation options. The Lee County Economic Development Office offers access to virtually unlimited public data via tools such as SizeUp Lee and others.
Locally, five teams made up of approximately twenty-five participants joined together to develop a solution. The event participants included Dunbar High School, Fort Myers Institute of Technology, Chicos, KeyedIn Solutions, and Binary Structures. Chicos was chosen as the most focused solution, and Dunbar High School’s plan was chosen as the most innovative concept.
For more information about the Lee County Economic Development Office, please visit www.leecountybusiness.com. Business may also contact the Economic Development staff at (239) 338-3161 or by email to wbaucom@LeeGov.com.
The Lee County Economic Development Office (Lee County EDO) was presented with the prestigious “2013 Deal of the Year” award by the Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC) during the Annual FEDC Conference in Tampa recently. Gray Swoope, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. made the announcement and presentation. The award was made on behalf of Lee County’s successful recruitment of The Hertz Corporation.
The Lee County EDO was one of several nominees statewide to be considered for the highest award issued annually by the FEDC. In what was a very successful year for new business recruitment in Florida, Governor Rick Scott made several major corporate announcements including major projects like The Hertz Corporation, Amazon, USAA, Covidien, Northrup Grumman, Siemens and Johnson & Johnson’s Vision Care.
To learn more about business opportunities, visit the Lee County Economic Development Office website at www.leecountybusiness.com or contact the Economic Development staff at (239) 338-3161.
Did you know the terminal building for Southwest Florida International Airport sat approximately 1,000 yards to the north of where it currently sits today? Due to incredible growth in the region, a new terminal complex opened in 2005. At that time, the previous terminal was torn down, but the location is open and ready for business as Skyplex, with more than 1,000 contiguous acres of prime commercial and aviation real estate. Skyplex will support a variety of investment types and is located in an area that boasts a strong economic demographic profile.
The Lee County Economic Development Office is dedicated to supporting existing businesses and bringing in additional organizations in key target industries to further enhance our economy. One such target industry is aviation and Skyplex offers a shining example of what this area has to offer.
Facts about Skyplex you may not know:
•800+ acres of land zoned for commercial use
•200+ acres of land zoned for aviation use with roadways, parking and many utilities in place
•35 acres of aircraft ramp
According to Mark Busalacchi, director of business development at Southwest Florida International Airport, “In real estate terms, it really is beachfront property for the aeronautical industry. There is an existing, well-maintained aircraft ramp with infrastructure and all the essentials to build, which will save a company considerable time and money.”
Conveniently located in southern Lee County at a world-class airport, Skyplex offers aeronautical businesses an ideal setting with a strong local workforce and convenient access to nearby residential and commercial developments, as well as higher education and entertainment venues, including Florida Gulf Coast University and JetBlue Park, spring training home of the Boston Red Sox.
If your business is looking to relocate and Skyplex is of interest, please contact Mark’s office at 239.590.4586. If you are a local business owner or someone interested in opening a new business here in Lee County and want more information on the resources offered by the Lee County Economic Development Office, please visit the resources page of our website. Also, be sure to visit SizeUp Lee, a local business intelligence resource and informational database on the area.
The Horizon Council recently held their annual meeting and released information on our organization’s performance in 2013, including our annual report, as well as plans for 2014. From performance of last year’s economic indicators to the introduction of Rick Michael, our new Economic Development Director, and the new officers and task force members, the future looks bright for our local economy.
Signs of a Bright Future
Reporting on the numerous activities from the last fiscal year, outgoing Horizon Council Chairman, Bob Koenig, referenced the many strides Lee County has taken in becoming more business friendly. Most notable, the Foundation Task Force raised a record $385,000, $35,000 more than their goal. At the meeting the 2014 goal was announced with aspirations of $400,000. A brief summary of work completed in 2013 by task force includes:
About the Horizon Council
The Horizon Council is a public-private board established in 1991 to advise the Lee County Board of Commissioners on economic development issues. The Council has up to 80 members representing five cities; 10 chambers of commerce; 16 economic development and trade organizations; 14 community, business and education organizations; along with various officers and at-large members. To learn more visit the Fort Myers Regional Partnership website.
Plans for 2014 were also announced at the annual meeting. The 2014 Business Plan presented gave an overview of our goals, along with strategies for obtaining them. Goals discussed included:
· Enhanced services for existing businesses
· Better utilization of technology to improve recruitment and expansion efforts
· Partnering with complementary organizations