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U.S. Army Reserve deputy chief tours the city

By Staff | May 1, 2011

Cape Coral political and business leaders got the chance to spotlight what the city has to offer during a tour Saturday for the U.S. Army Reserve deputy chief.
Maj. Gen. Keith L. Thurgood was the keynote speaker at the 2011 Spring Convention for the Reserve Officer’s Association’s Department of Florida. The Cape was chosen for the locations of the convention, which was held Saturday night at Tarpon Point Resort.
Prior to the night’s event, Thurgood met with local leaders and was given a tour of the city by air, water and land. Vincent Cummings, president-elect of the Reserve Officer’s Association, said Thurgood asked for the Cape tour “to get a taste of the local flavor.”
“He has seemed to be very pleased with what he’s seen,” Cummings said during the group’s stop by the Iwo Jima Memorial statue at Eco Park.
The itinerary involved a trip to the memorial, a helicopter tour of the area for a more aerial view, a boat ride along one of the city’s 400-plus miles of canals, and a visit to the sites of the Veterans Administration Clinic, which is nearing completion, and planned U.S. Army Reserve Center.
According to Thurgood, the new Army Reserve Center is expected to cost about $14.5 million. Officials are hoping for the project to go to bid in September and anticipate that it will be completed by 2013. The center will house 300 soldiers and create 20-30 jobs.
“I think it’s going to be a great facility,” he said.
Thurgood added that the Army Reserve wants to partner with the community.
“Our soldiers are involved,” he said. “We want to be a part of an enduring operational force.”
The Army Reserve Center will eventually occupy 15 acres on Corbett Road in the northeast Cape, adjacent from the Veterans Administration Clinic. The surrounding area, about one mile from the clinic, has been dubbed the “Veterans Investment Zone.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” Thurgood said of the area’s potential.
According to Cape Coral Councilmember Bill Deile, who was present for the tour, the Veterans Investment Zone has caught the interest of some possible investors, including medical offices and a hotel. A mixed use development called Patriot Plaza also is anticipated.
The Veterans Administration Clinic is expected to be operational by 2012. Officials expect that it will employ about 300, increasing to more than 410 after a few years.
A Hope Hospice facility is already located in the Veterans Investment Zone.
Deile said Thurgood’s visit helps to raise awareness of the city and build its image.
“It gives us a presence now in Washington,” he said.
The tour also enabled local leaders to market the city and show what it has to offer.
“We’re building on creating a momentum,” Deile said. “We have a lot of room yet to grow.”