Business Florida 2014 - The Regions
Estero, Fort Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda
Demographics for the Southwest Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
• Ave Maria University
• Edison State College
• Florida Gulf Coast University
• Hodges University
• Naples Municipal
• Punta Gorda
• Southwest Florida International
Southwest Florida has, for years, quietly attracted the attention of businesses in such diverse industries as technology, retail, manufacturing and healthcare. In 2013, this region began making headlines.
First came NCAA "March Madness" with its Cinderella story of the players from little-known Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, who beat some of college basketball’s biggest names and advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen." Two months later, came Hertz — the world’s leader in car rentals — announcing the relocation of its corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Estero.
It seems as though the outside world is learning what businesses in this three-county region already know: With affordable sites, an educated workforce and a dynamic quality of life, Southwest Florida is a good place to grow.
Globally minded companies here enjoy ready access to markets through Tampa and Miami via I-75, and Foreign Trade Zones at two sites, Southwest Florida International Airport and Page Field. And now that Allegiant Air has added eight new destinations at Punta Gorda Airport, 19 mid-sized cities are just a flight away. With connections like these, it’s no wonder that Cheney Brothers Inc., the nation’s 11th largest food distributor, chose to site its newest distribution facility here.
WHO LIVES HERE
Expanding workforce Employers looking to grow in this region can be assured of a workforce to match. Projections show an increase of 5% in Southwest Florida’s 18-54 age group by 2015, compared to 1% across the entire state.
Significant Latin influence At 26%, Collier County has the highest percentage of Hispanic population of any county along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Sixteen percent of Collier’s total businesses are Hispanic-owned compared to 14% in Lee County.
Educational partners In addition to a winning basketball team, Florida Gulf Coast University offers 51 undergraduate and 28 graduate degree programs, plus workshops and one-on-one-counseling for entrepreneurs at its Small Business Development Center. Edison State College, which opened as a junior college in 1962, today serves 17,000 students, awards close to 2,400 associate and 300 bachelor’s degrees annually and in 2012 opened its first on-campus dormitory.