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2017 Business Climate of Southwest Florida

Sweltering summer days haven’t deterred the job market in 2017. Southwest Florida is on the rise, as you’ve probably read in the headlines of every media outlet from Marco Island to Fort Myers. The success of southwest Florida in the last decade isn’t unfounded. In fact, it’s proven.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates are close to 2005 lows resting at 4.7% in Lee County and 5.0% in Collier County. These closely-tracked percentages are a glimpse into the future. After all, the past is our greatest teacher.

The Upward Trend of Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida is center stage in the United States with one of the fastest growing job markets in the country. Late last year, Forbes highlighted the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area as the best city for future job growth. The Lee County area is expected to add jobs at a 3.9% annual rate compared to the 1.4% national average, a promising figure for southwest Florida.

The real estate and hospitality industries remain the center focus of job creation due to the retirement popularity that’s always surrounded the Sunshine State. However, emerging industries are a close second and third.

The IT, aviation, and aerospace industries are expected to grow at a commensurate rate and with their success comes more jobs, and global companies are taking notice.

There’s a reason that Fortune 500 companies like Hertz, chose to nestle their headquarters in southwest Florida. Florida has continuously ranked #1 for business climate. Paired with a decreasing unemployment rate and increasing job growth rate, there’s more incentive than ever. The beaches certainly help as well.

The Florida economy is on such an upward trend, University of Florida economist Sean Snaith predicts that Florida is on track to reach a trillion dollar economy as early as 2018. Snaith attributes the growth to the strength of the housing market and ascending job growth.

Lee County, in particular, has skyrocketed within the last two decades. An economic overhaul and the opening of Florida Gulf Coast University has increased and improved development in the area.

The upward trend is slated to continue, too. The Lee County Business Climate Report includes several figures that show promise.

Expectations are high in 2017. We are expecting this incredible growth to continue, positively impacting local companies, improving our global reach, and leading to new business incentives.

Planning for the Future

Moving forward, the Alliance will be focused on several goals as we evolve with our continued growth:

  • Expanding our outreach via industry events
  • Hosting top site selectors for one-on-one visits to the region
  • Targeting specific business sectors that match the industry clusters thriving in southwest Florida.
  • Strengthening our communications to key stakeholders, including our investors and the public

“The alliance is supported by a strong group of both public and private sector organizations whose visionary leadership is critical to our success today and in the future. We are grateful for their support and for the genuine dedication to the alliance’s mission.” Wrote Alan Reynolds, chairman of the board for the SWFLEDA.

If you’re a site selector or business owner looking to bring a new business to Collier County or a nearby location, the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance (SWFLEDA) is here to help you take advantage of the many benefits available. Contact SWFLEDA at or call 844-707-SWFL for more information.