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U.S. Census numbers are no surprise

By Staff | Mar 19, 2011

Population in the State of Florida increased nearly 18 percent over a decade, according to United State Census data released this week.
According to Census data, 15,982,378 people lived in Florida in 2000. In 2010, there were 18,801,932 residents.
Lee County saw a 40.3 percent population increase over that same period, with 440,888 people living here in 2000, and 618,754 residents in 2010.
Cape Coral saw a 50.9 percent population increase over the decade. The city had 102,286 residents in 2000 and 154,305 residents in 2010.
Local resident and activist Carlos Espendez said the large influx of Hispanic residents in the city will one day have to have their needs met by city government.
The one-time chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee and Planning and Zoning Commission member said the population demographic — which jumped from 8 percent of Cape Coral to more than 19 percent last year — will need true leadership at the city level.
“We are devoid of any true Hispanic leadership in the city … there is no representation at City Hall,” he said. “I’m not calling for new committees, but I’m thinking in terms of a liaison to the people who have not been heard in the best ways.”
Espendez said Hispanic residents in Cape Coral are proud of their community and have taken the steps to assimilate themselves into an American lifestyle.
“The fact is that Hispanics are here to stay. They are going to be part of the system, and they need to be thought about when things are done in this city,” Espendez added. “We have no formal representation in this city.”
Audie Lewis, business recruitment specialist for the city’s Economic Development Office, said the EDO has taken steps to stay involved with the Hispanic market, saying Hispanics make up a large percentage of local business owners.
While the city’s population has dropped since the boom six years ago, Lewis said the city has an abundance of affordable housing to go along with all the things that attracted people to Cape Coral in the first place.
Last year at this time the EDO has 16 projects in the pipe, Lewis said. This year, they have 80.
“The market place is starting to recognize there are good deals down here,” he said. “I think we’re rebounding faster than a lot of people thought we would.”
Lee County Commissioner and Cape resident John Manning said he wasn’t surprised by the numbers, and the “out migration” caused by the recession wasn’t a surprise.
“We’re growing at a slower pace now but our diversity is increasing,” he said Friday.