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November 13, 2018
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Business Florida 2019 - The Regions

On the Fast Track

| 10/24/2018



With just three counties, Southwest is Florida’s smallest region by land size, but it carries a powerful demographic punch.

Lee County is home to three of “2017’s Fastest Growing Cities in America.” Collier County has Florida’s highest per capita income — $80,252 in 2017 — and Charlotte County, with its strategic location along I-75 between Tampa and Miami, is a logistics epicenter for its ready access to nearly 4 million potential customers within 90 miles. Not surprisingly, many corporate headquarters have found homes in Southwest Florida along with robust clusters of firms engaged in logistics, life sciences and technology/business services.

Global medical device manufacturer Arthrex, a fixture in Collier County since 1991, is expanding — again. Construction has begun on two of three buildings at the firm’s headquarters campus in Naples: the six-story Arthrex Event and Administration Building and the four-story INNovation Hotel to accommodate physicians who come to Naples for training in the use of surgical devices developed at Arthrex. A third building will house a medical clinic and fitness facilities for Arthrex employees and their families. The full expansion is slated for completion in late 2019.

Health care options for consumers are also growing here. The following facilities are either planned or currently under construction:

• Lee Health Coconut Point, an 82-bed facility in Estero with an anticipated opening of December 2018. Fort Myers-based Lee Health is this region’s largest health care provider.

• A yet-to-be named HCA 80-bed acute care hospital in Estero. Nashville-based HCA Healthcare currently operates 15 hospitals along Florida’s Gulf coast including Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte.

• Braden Clinic Hospital, a 25-bed facility planned for Ave Maria and the first hospital to be sited in eastern Collier County.

• A combination ER and outpatient medical center in Bonita Springs by NCH Healthcare System, operator of the largest hospitals in Collier County.

Globally minded distributors in Southwest Florida enjoy easy access to domestic and international markets via I-75, which puts five deepwater ports within a half-day’s drive. This ready proximity to customers far and wide is precisely the reason Cheney Brothers chose Punta Gorda as the site for its fifth distribution center in 2015. From a 250,000-sq.-ft. facility along I-75, Cheney Brothers is able to readily and efficiently meet the demands of foodservice providers throughout Florida and beyond.

Two commercial airports serve this region and both are busier than ever. With 12 airlines and 28 gates, Southwest Florida International Airport logged a record 8.8 million passengers in 2017 and recently added three German cities to its roster of destinations. And coming soon: a $160-million renovation and expansion project to include new security checkpoints and additional space for concessions.

Punta Gorda Airport — with just one airline, Allegiant — logged nearly 1.3 million passengers in 2017 for a 16% increase over the previous year. In June 2018, Allegiant launched non-stop service to Nashville, bringing to 41 the number of mid-sized U.S. cities it serves. The airport also hosts many aviation-related businesses and flight schools, including Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation, which in fall 2017 opened a campus here for its bachelor’s program in aviation flight science.

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