By Dana Brunett, Director, Business Development, Lee County Florida Economic Development Office
The Lee County Market is experiencing unprecedented commercial growth and it is projected to continue into the future. This growth was expected to occur over time but the pandemic has accelerated development. At the same time Lee County is seeing a major in migration of new residents, which is also having an impact on commercial growth.
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.
Further evidence that Lee County’s workforce is evolving is EMSI’s most recent scorecard. According to the 2020 EMSI Talent Attraction Scorecard, Lee County was ranked No. 10 in the U.S. and the highest-rated county in Florida. While many counties in Florida see positive migration numbers due to retirees, Lee County’s job growth of 11% and skilled occupation growth of 16% indicate its migration includes working-age adults. We are also seeing an increase interest from remote workers as they can live and work anywhere and many are choosing to take advantage of Florida’s sunshine and friendly tax environment.
Gartner – Florida Campus – global research and advisory firm providing information, advice, and tools for leaders in IT, finance, HR, customer service and support, communications, legal and compliance, marketing, sales, and supply chain functions
Manufacturers, technology and medical-related firms seek these populations and the fact that Lee County is growing their population of skilled labor is not going unnoticed. Demand for space and new construction by out-of-market companies has increased tremendously over the past few years and we’re seeing signs of that trend continuing. Another aspect to our growth in these areas is the relocation of companies from up north and out west to Florida. Lee County is experiencing this element as well as small and medium sized companies are seeking a more favorable tax environment while moving to an area that they can transition more easily into retirement.
Lee County and our educational partners are not leaving this growth and the skilled labor force development to chance. There is a concerted effort to increase the skill levels of existing residents through access to schooling and training, development and expansion of technical colleges and certificate completion programs are being introduced. There is a special emphasis on credential stacking, including micro and rapid credentialing in all the skilled trades.
All-in-all, Lee County is well positioned to entertain more manufacturing related businesses and we are preparing our existing workforce for the future. While tourism is still a large part of our local economy we are bringing more balance to our economic make up, which is good for all of us as we continue to grow.
More information on manufacturing, tax advantages, a vast talent pool and robust infrastructure in Florida.
Reprinted with permission from SWFL Business Today ®