EDO Admin

EDO Admin

Florida is the home of international trade, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. Southwest Florida businesses play a huge role in that success. In fact, Enterprise Florida states that over the last decade, the total value of Florida’s merchandise trade has nearly doubled, surpassing $158 billion in value in 2013. With such a “robust trade infrastructure,” it makes sense that collaborative partnerships be forged to harness this movement.
The Gold Key Program is the latest development to promote export manufacturing. This financial assistance program is for small and medium sized businesses to identify overseas growth strategies aimed at marketing to overseas clientele. Lee County businesses are eligible to receive reimbursement for business exportation trade missions.

Target sectors eligible for Gold Key grants include:

Aviation & Aerospace
Defense/Homeland Security
Information Technology
Life Sciences
Marine Industry
Other Manufacturing
Professional Services
Software Development
Research & Development

Enterprise Florida will vet EDO applicants from Lee County, and grants up to $500 will be awarded for pre-investments costs including a customized international marketing plan and travel.

There are more than 70 participating international markets including Asia and Latin America. Examples such as Panama, Columbia, Peru, Mexico and Chile all have forged partners with small to medium sized U.S. companies for the exportation of goods and services. Your company could be next!

There are a few requirements, such as the company must be in business for at least two years and headquartered in Lee County, or producing its product in Lee County. Sounds like something of interest? Well, act now as this program will not be around for long. (The program is a collaborative partnership between U.S. Commercial Services, the Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University, Enterprise Florida and the Lee County Industrial Development Authority.) 

For more information, contact the Lee County Economic Development Office at 239-533-6800.

Monday, 16 February 2015 21:38

Become a Lee County Digital Ambassador!



Speak for Lee! Become a Lee County Digital Ambassador


The Lee County Economic Development Office (EDO) is launching a new marketing campaign to position the county as a prime location for business growth, new investment and talent attraction and retention. Aimed at site selection consultants, C-level executives, entrepreneurs and skilled professionals, the campaign will focus on telling Lee County’s story to these important audiences.


According to a recent survey by Development Counsellors International, corporate executives with site selection responsibilities report that online marketing strategies, including social media, are one of the most influential ways to reach executive decision makers.


To help spread the word about why Lee County is a great place to live and do business, EDO is launching a Digital Ambassadors program. Lee County is calling on the region’s digitally networked professionals, entrepreneurs and other leaders to share business announcements, media coverage and other information that reflects well on Lee County.


Great things happen every day in Lee County. Whether its news that Lee Memorial ranks among the top hospitals in the nation, a story about the growth of a local small business, or another win for the FGCU Eagles, there’s no one better than our local business professionals to share this news and how it makes Lee County a great place to live and do business.


Digital Ambassadors are able to connect their social media accounts automatically to receive updates and news from Lee County. Ambassadors can post on their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with one simple click. Digital Ambassadors always have the option to opt-out of posting content.


How can you speak for Lee? To become a Digital Ambassador:


1. Sign up at ambassadors.leecountybusiness.com
2. You’ll begin receiving emails with information and suggested social media content to post on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
3. With one simple click, Digital Ambassadors can either opt-in or opt-out of sharing the content.
4. The buzz about Lee County continues to grow and ignite interest in our region.

Thank you for joining the movement to share the good news about why Lee County is a great place to both live and do business.


Fort Myers, FL, Jan. 13, 2015 – The Horizon Council and Horizon Foundation will host the 2015 Annual Meeting at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 30, at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. To register online, visit www.horizoneventsite.com.

The luncheon program features keynote speaker John Boland, vice president of business development for Hertz Equipment Rental (HERC), a division of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. that is slated to spin-off into a stand-alone company. Recently tapped to lead strategic growth and corporate development efforts for HERC, Boland will provide insight into HERC’s operations, why they selected Lee County, and the organization’s anticipated impact on Southwest Florida’s job market and economy.  

“Lee County has excelled during the economic recovery due in part to the Horizon Council’s efforts to help the Board of County Commissioners build a vibrant business climate,” said Denis Noah, incoming chair of the Horizon Council. “Big job announcements in 2014 by Gartner, Comcast and Alta Resources prove our efforts are succeeding,”

Lee County Economic Development Director Glen Salyer said, “We are thrilled to have played a part in helping great companies join the Lee County business community last year. We extend a warm welcome to Hertz Equipment Rental, Universal Trailer Corp., Camuto Group and all of the businesses that now view Southwest Florida as a first-class business destination.”

In addition to Boland’s presentation, Andy Levine, president/chief creative officer of Development Counsellors International, will present the findings of “A View from Corporate America: Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing,” a survey of 356 corporate executives with site selection responsibilities. 

According the “Winning Strategies” survey, Florida ranks No. 2 in U.S. state rankings as having the most favorable business climate. In addition, survey respondents report that online marketing strategies, planned visits, public relations, special events and trade shows are the most influential strategies for reaching executive decision makers.

“It’s a powerful tool to have this insight from key decision makers,” Salyer said. “As we look to grow and strengthen relationships with site selectors and influence corporate executives’ decisions on where to locate, invest and create jobs, we are leveraging this data and building upon these strategies to help guide our 2015 strategic marketing plan and enhance our position.” 

“Economic prosperity requires public commitment, private involvement and financial investment, and we are fortunate to have all three in this community. I salute the Horizon Council and its Foundation for contributing so much time, talent and treasure to enhancing economic development in Lee County,” said Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker, the liaison for the Horizon Council from the Board of County Commissioners.

The Horizon Foundation continues to engage the local business community and provide new opportunities to strengthen Lee County’s business climate. The foundation is dedicated to enabling individuals and businesses to actively support the program of work of the Horizon Council and the Lee County Economic Development Office.

“The achievements of 2014 are due in large part to the support of the local business community, represented by the Horizon Council,” said Bob Koenig, outgoing President of the Horizon Foundation. “We are very pleased with the this year’s successes, and we hope to build upon that as more Lee County businesses see and realize their full potential to influence economic growth this year.”

Those interested in Horizon Foundation “PaceSetter” Investor/Sponsor opportunities and recognition at the Annual Meeting, please contact B. Pat O’Rourke at bporourke@leegov.com

The Lee County Economic Development Office offers numerous resources for businesses considering relocation and site selectors, in addition to incentives, including statistical data, demographic information, custom property locator tools and other research. Current target industries for major growth in Lee County, Florida include medical technologies, aviation, information services and distribution and logistics. For information on the Lee County Economic Development Office, visit LeeCountyBusiness.com.

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’s mission is to improve Lee County’s business environment, retain and encourage expansion of existing businesses, and attract new and diversified employers. It is the only public-private partnership of Lee County Government and business leaders. The Horizon Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c) (3) organizations established as a fundraising vehicle enabling individuals and businesses to actively support the program of work of the Horizon Council and the Lee County Economic Development Office. For more information, visit www.leecountybusiness.com or call 239-338-3161.

Additional Media Contacts:

Teri Hansen, APR, Priority Marketing, teri@prioritymarketing.com, 239-267-2638 or 239-849-3300

Holly Boldrin, APR, Priority Marketing, holly@prioritymarketing.com, 239-267-2638 or 239-887-9335


Annual Meeting Registration is now Live!

With another great year coming to a close, the Lee County Economic Development Office has just released an informative newsletter capturing the highlights of our accomplishments in 2014.  

Additionally, our office is happy to announce that registration is now live for our Annual Meeting, to be held January 30, 2015 at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre.  You can access the newsletter, and registration site here


Economic Development 2.0

The Lee County Economic Development Office is using PoweringFlorida.com, a comprehensive online resource created by Florida Power & Light (FPL), to encourage business growth in Lee County. 

This innovative tool was launched in 2013 using GIS Planning to provide resources for anyone looking to expand their business or start a new one in Florida. It includes a comparison of Florida communities, labor force statistics, consumer spending, geography, demography, available site data and links to local economic development offices.

“Powering Florida is the only one of its kind,” said Crystal Stiles, Economic Development Project Manager at FPL. “It gives the local economic community the power to enhance their competitiveness.”

FPL also teamed up with Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) and OneSource to create an additional resource center available to economic development organizations in Florida to market their community and target companies for recruitment.

“Having access to the Powering Florida tool and additional Resource Center has helped the economic development office by providing us access to more customizable and in-depth data to help strengthen business growth in Lee County,” said Brent Kettler, Business Intelligence and Technology Manager at the Lee County Economic Development Office.

PoweringFlorida.com was a finalist for the H. Bruce Russell Global Innovator’s Award, which recognizes excellence and innovation in corporate real estate.

For more information on Powering Florida, email PoweringFlorida@FPL.com or call 1-888-488-7703.

For information on the Lee County Economic Development Office, visit www.leecountybusiness.com

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 02:05

Another Corporate HQ Relocates to Lee County

Lee County has landed yet another new corporate headquarters, adding to the robust economic development landscape that’s evolved since Hertz announced its corporate relocation in 2013.

Universal Trailer Holdings Corp. of Cincinnati (UTC) recently confirmed that it will be relocating to Lee County. This comes after the Lee Board of County Commissioners approved an incentive package of $63,000 from the Lee County Job Opportunity Program.

In addition to relocating its headquarters, UTC plans to expand, creating 21 new jobs at an average annual wage of more than $90,000. UTC has grown rapidly in the past 12 years through the acquisition of several smaller companies located throughout the United States. The company selected Lee County over other locations in the Southeast for its strong growth trajectory.

Lee County is favorable to companies looking to relocate for many reasons:

•         A well-educated historically underemployed workforce. Many people have moved for the lifestyle or with a spouse and are working jobs not within their field of expertise;  

•         No personal income tax;

•         A comparatively lower cost of living than many other major markets across the country;

•         An international airport with 19 major carriers and 44 non-stop destinations including Canada and Germany;

•         10 universities and colleges along with two high tech centers in the region;

•         An active lifestyle year-round due to the favorable climate.

“We are excited to be part of the Fort Myers-Lee County business community. Lee County met all the key requirements in our search for a new corporate headquarters location, and I’m confident the location will serve our business and employees effectively. I appreciate the broad support of the Lee County Economic Development Office, as this was an important part of the process,” said Jim Galeese, chief financial officer of UTC.

The company’s new headquarters is designated to meet, train and communicate with a national dealer base of more than 800. The Lee County office will be the main location for the Senior Management Team and related support activities. With nearly $230 million in revenue last year, the company is an industry leader, designing and manufacturing seven trailer brands.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about UTC’s relocation and the synergy emerging in our market as more corporations look at us as a relocation destination,” said Lee County Commissioner Cecil L Pendergrass, who serves as the Board’s economic development liaison to the Horizon Council.

The Lee County Economic Development Office offers numerous resources for businesses considering relocation and site selectors, in addition to incentives, including statistical data, demographic information, custom property locator tools and other research.

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’s mission is to improve Lee County’s business environment, retain and encourage expansion of existing businesses, and attract new and diversified employers. It is the only public-private partnership of Lee County Government and business leaders.


The Lee County Economic Development Office is a supporting partner of Enterprise Florida and their export trade mission to Peru. More than $2.8 billion in Florida products were exported to Peru last year, and Peruvian imports totaled $2.6 billion. Peru is currently Florida’s eighth largest trading partner and forecasts for the market remain strong, which is why the Economic Development Office supports an upcoming educational seminar on opportunities in Peru.

Local business owners are encouraged to join Enterprise Florida and their trade partners from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13 at the Airport Training and Conference Center for a free seminar on business opportunities in Peru. Rebecca Armand, Senior Commercial Officer of the Tampa Bay Export Assistance Center, will be the guest speaker for the event. Attendees will have the chance to learn more about the economic, political and social environment of Peru, available export opportunities, and how to participate in the export development trade mission.

Businesses owners are encouraged to preregister, as space is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. The registration deadline is Nov. 12; please visit FortMyersPeruSeminar.Eventrbrite.com. Attendees interested in a one-on-one session after the seminar are asked to email Stephanie Pavolini at spavolini@enterpriseflorida.com to coordinate. The Airport Training and Conference Center is located at 15924 Air Cargo Lane, Fort Myers and directions are available online.

Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is a public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. EFI’s mission is to expand and diversify the state’s economy through job creation. In pursuit of its mission, EFI works closely with a statewide network of economic development partners and is funded both by the State of Florida and by private-sector businesses.

To learn more about additional business opportunities, please visit the Lee County Economic Development Office website at www.leecountybusiness.com or contact the Economic Development staff at (239) 338-3161.

The Lee County Economic Development Office offers numerous resources for businesses considering relocation and site selectors, in addition to incentives, including statistical data, demographic information, custom property locator tools and other research. 



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:

  • Miami-Dade County: 2,136
  • Broward County: 1,175
  • Palm Beach County: 513

“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.

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