Lee County, Florida ranks No. 3 best place for small-business vitality

Looking for a great place to follow your entrepreneurial dreams and start a new business? Look no further than Lee County, Florida.

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area, which includes all of Lee County, has been ranked as the No. 3 best place for small-business vitality in a study conducted by the American City Business Journals (ACBJ). The study used a 16-part formula to analyze the small-business climates of 106 major metropolitan areas across the nation. Cape Coral-Fort Myers scored high marks in five vital qualities that make a great place for the development of small businesses, and came in No. 3, just behind Austin and Miami.

Lee County Economic Development Office | Lee County, Florida ranks No. 3 best place for small-business vitality


Here’s a breakdown of some of the key qualities that make Lee County a great place for small-business vitality:

1. The local count of small businesses is increasing.

An increase in the number of small businesses is the clearest indicator of a positive climate for entrepreneurs, according to the ACBJ report, and Cape Coral-Fort Myers saw a 5 percent increase over the recent three-year period.

Florida also has an attractive, pro-business climate and there are plenty of resources in Lee County that assist local entrepreneurs with getting their feet off the ground, such as The Lee Entrepreneurs’ Assistance Resource Network.


2. The population is growing rapidly.

ACBJ referred to the chicken-and-egg proposition here, “Does an increase in the number of small businesses (and hence in the number of jobs) attract more people to an area? Or does an upswing in population create more opportunities for entrepreneurs?”

While we may not know the answer, one thing is certain—the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area is growing, fast. Recall recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates, which showed a 3.3 percent population increase between 2014 and 2015 — the third-highest in the nation.


3. There is an abundance of budding entrepreneurs.

ACBJ reported an estimated 8,739 nonemployer businesses (firms that have no paid employees) per 100,000 residents in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area. While these small businesses lack payrolls, they have the potential to blossom and create jobs in the future.

An ample pool of entrepreneurs can be found at Fort Myers-based The RocketLounge and Endeavor Innovative Workspaces. Both accelerators provide startups budget-friendly office space and other resources that help maximize their potential.


4. Key economic indicators are trending in a positive direction.

The analysis found a strong correlation between small-business vitality, growth in private-sector jobs, and gross metropolitan product. Cape Coral-Fort Myers led the nation in this category, with a three-year job-growth rate of 15.9 percent.

Florida also posted the highest private-sector job growth rate of the 10 most populous states in February.


5. There is a strong concentration of small businesses.

There are more than 16,000 small businesses in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area, according to the ACBJ report, which also noted that “warmer parts of the country tend to be the most promising regions for entrepreneurs.”

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