It’s not all about the Sunshine, Beaches and Baseball…
When businesses envision the extraordinary efforts that go into marketing Lee County as a destination to start, expand or move your business, it’s a lot more than pretty pictures of our glorious sunshine, breath-taking beaches and championship baseball.
The research is continually being conducted and the fashion in which it is being calculated in our region is astonishing. I was recently sitting in a meeting with the amazing staff from Lee County’s Office of Economic Development when one staff member stated a startling fact. She said Florida is experiencing a growth of 1,000 new residents PER DAY and Southwest Florida was experiencing a growth of 3,000 new residents PER MONTH!
I challenged the staff member, asking how the count was justified. The standard DOT (Department of Transportation) answer was provided for major highways coming into our great state, followed up a myriad of airline statistics for one-way flights and real estate sales stats. But one statistic blew me away: U-Haul dead-head travel. Basically, calculating the number of U-Hauls that specifically have Florida as the drop-off destination. Yes, there is much more formal research our Horizon Council members also have access to via LoopNet, FGCU and other avenues, but dead-head U-Hauls made me pause and think of one of our most famous residents, Thomas Alva Edison, and his often-quoted statement: “There is only one Fort Myers in the United States, and there are 90 million people who are going to find it out.” Remember, the great visionary and inventor bought a winter home in Fort Myers on the banks of the Caloosahatchee in 1885, and the famous family returned for six decades. He publicly professed his love of the community often.
I recently attended the Lee Business Industry Association’s Market Trends event and came home with a publication of statistics from this event that touted record breaking land sales, home sales and commercial construction land and building transactions. Single family housing permits are up more than 24% than the prior year, and the interesting fact is that it is not the usual suspects moving in. In an area usually dominated by retirees moving in, Lee County is seeing a good share of in migration of working age people. According to U.S. Postal Service data, the largest feeder states have been New York, California and Ohio. Presently, Lee County ranks as the 12th highest “in migration” county in the U.S. according to CoreLogic, a data analysis company out of Irvine, California. Interestingly enough, Cape Coral was the No. 1 city in the U.S. for relocations, according to U.S. Postal Services address-change data. The in migration of working-age residents is important throughout the county, but especially to Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres, which house much of our workforce in the County. What caught my eye on the commercial front was the variety of construction exploding in our region. The skyline, the traffic patterns, the time for traveling in Lee County is changing in a very rapid fashion. Are you paying attention for your business and is your business ready?
-Christopher Spiro, Spiro & Associates Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations and Brand Architecture, Chairman Horizon Council 2020, and because I can’t say no, 2021.