Lee County EDO looks to collaborate with Cape leaders
Opportunities for economic development in Cape Coral may be fewer and farther between now than they were during the heady days of the boom years, but they still exist.
That was the message of Lee County Economic Development Director Jim Moore when he spoke Friday at a meeting for the Cape Coral Council for Progress, a business advocacy group.
Moore urged business leaders in the Cape to help him identify businesses in the city that are ripe for growth so that his office can help them progress.
“(Cape business leaders) are the ones in the Cape. They know more about the Cape than I ever will,” Moore said.
Council for Progress Executive Director Heather Mazurkiewicz said members were amenable to Moore’s approach and are already in the process of working with his office.
“He’s asking the business community to step up and help economic development in the Cape. It’s a grassroots way of doing economic development,” Mazurkiewicz said.
Attracting new businesses to the Cape and helping existing businesses grow is seen as vital to helping the city move away from its dependence on the construction industry for economic growth.
It would also help the city avoid what Moore called “the peaks and valleys” of the housing market in recent years.
Cape Coral gets 65 percent of its revenue from property taxes. Property values in the Cape have fallen nearly 50 percent in the past two years.
“If I lived in the Cape I would want to diversify the economy,” Moore said.
While the spirit of cooperation seems to have crossed the Caloosahatchee River, the $25 million Lee County set aside for incentives to help attract businesses to the county has not.
“None of the deals we’ve done have been in the Cape,” Moore said.
But Mazurkiewicz said bringing in business anywhere in Lee County benefits the Cape, especially in the current recession.
“While it may not do anything to affect the Cape directly, anytime we get a business to move here it’s a good thing. They have employees that live here, that spend money here,” Mazurkiewicz said.