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April 20, 2018

Business Florida 2018 - The Regions

Going Strong

| 9/22/2017

Southwest

LIFE & LEISURE

Be lively or laid-back
It’s your choice. Florida’s southwest has the right combination: quaint shops and galleries to explore in Fort Myers, Bonita Springs and Naples; symphony orchestras, theaters, festivals and museums; non-stop adventure on 22 miles of ATV trails at Florida Tracks & Trails in Punta Gorda; natural wonders like Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Ten Thousand Islands, Big Cypress Preserve and Everglades National Park; and, of course, the ultimate luxury get-aways — Captiva and Sanibel Islands.

Kayaking in Charlotte County

Educational excellence
Florida SouthWestern State College — ranked one of the nation’s “50 Best Community Colleges” by College Choice in 2017 — offers baccalaureate, associate and certificate programs at four sites across the region. And at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, 53 undergraduate and 26 graduate programs are offered as well as workshops and counseling for entrepreneurs at its Small Business Development Center. Also in southwest Florida, two private universities: Hodges, with campuses in Naples and Fort Myers and a class-size average of just 14, and Ave Maria, a Catholic university and surrounding town just outside Naples created by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan.

Staying healthy and fit
Named America’s healthiest city for the second time in 2016, Naples refuses to rest on its laurels. This city is Florida’s first to embrace the Blue Zones Project, a community-wide well-being improvement initiative to help make healthy choices easier. The concept originated from research by National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner who identified the common healthy-living traits of five “blue zones” – places in the world with the highest concentrations of centenarians. NCH Healthcare System launched the Blue Zones Project in Naples and, to date, more than 50 organizations and businesses across southwest Florida have joined the effort to make this already healthy region an even better place to live, work and play.

A place in the sun
Developer Syd Kitson’s bold plan to build a town in southwest Florida that would run on solar power is soon to be reality. Construction on homes is under way and the first residents are expected to move in before the end of 2017; a charter public school is taking shape. Already in place is Founders Square, in the heart of downtown, and the 74.5-megawatt Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center built by Florida Power & Light to power the community’s planned 19,500 homes and 6 million square feet of civic, commercial and industrial space.

Babcock Ranch rendering

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Florida Trend Video Pick

Celebrity Edge, where dining really is on the edge
Celebrity Edge, where dining really is on the edge

Le Petit Chef, a tiny animated chef who creates a whimsical dessert, is a key ingredient in what Celebrity Cruises calls an immersive fusion of entertainment and dining on its newest ship, Celebrity Edge, debuting in Fort Lauderdale.

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