TO HIT 200,000 IN 2020
The City of Cape Coral has seen a steadily increasing population over the last 10 years and is expected to surpass the 200,000 mark before the end of 2020. Over 16,000 new residents moved to the City between 2017 and 2020, and more people are arriving in the Cape every day. On a county-wide level, as of July 2020, Lee County had an estimated population of 739,000, including Cape Coral, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

It is estimated that Lee County will be home to more than 750,000 people by the end of 2020 and will increase to nearly 1 million people by 2040 (University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research).

The Cape is now more populated than Fort Lauderdale and will soon surpass Tallahassee as Number 7 in the State. This rise in population in the Cape has resulted in the construction of more than 2,400 single-family units per year and hundreds of multi-family units represented by developments such as Cape at Savona, Spring at Cape Coral and Surfside Apartments. Population growth is resulting in drawing more investors and developers to build multi-family, mixed-use, commercial and industrial developments to serve Cape residents and a growing workforce.

Over the course of this year and expanding in to 2021, Cape Coral’s Pine Island Road will witness more than $300M in private developments.

“Despite the pandemic, the Cape’s Pine Island Road Corridor continues to be one of the fastest growing development areas in Southwest Florida. With hundreds of millions of investments under construction or in permitting, the corridor still has ample sites to support supply chain, industrial flex, office and mixed-use developments. Easy access to Interstate 75 makes this area ideal for supply chain companies seeking to locate near large populations and a readily available workforce,” shared Ricardo Noguera, Economic Development Manager.
What’s Under Construction?

Wisconsin-based Continental Properties is nearing completion of its 109-room Fairfield Inn by Marriott scheduled for completion by November, and a 292-unit multi-family development which should open in late 2021. Indiana-based Thompson Thrift, has broken ground on a 50,000 square foot retail and restaurant development at the northwest corner of Pine Island Road and Del Prado Blvd. There is also an Enterprise Car Rental facility under construction about ½ mile east of Santa Barbara Blvd. Heading further west, Tractor Supply has broken ground on a new retail store just west of Chiquita Blvd. and across from the German American Club.

What’s in the Works?

An independently-owned farmers market is scheduled to break ground in early 2021 with a 48,000 square foot market across from Aldi’s just east of Chiquita Blvd. Island Pearl is also in the planning stage at the northwest corner of Pine Island Road and Burnt Store Road. There’s plenty more projects in the works, so stay tuned for more exciting updates and development announcements. 
What’s Left to Develop and What do We Desire?

The vast majority of lands available for new development are either located west of Chiquita Blvd to Burnt Store Road or east of Northeast 24th Avenue. With less than 300 acres of undeveloped sites remaining, the City’s Economic Development Team is eager to work with developers seeking to deliver industrial flex, supply chain industry, office, mixed-use and retail centers to the Corridor. For more information on available properties, please visit the City’s Economic Development page at Potential financial incentives are available for developers delivering permanent and above-average wage jobs to the Cape. Our goal is to create and expand industry to support the 200,000 residents in the City of Cape Coral, which boasts the largest workforce between Miami and Tampa.
Family-operated Businesses Highlight Growth and Success in the City of Cape Coral.
There are an estimated 5.5 million family-owned and operated businesses in the U.S. These businesses employ nearly 63% of the workforce in this country and continue to rise. While working with family can be both rewarding and challenging, multiple Cape Coral family-owned businesses have found that keeping it in the family and in the Cape are the keys to success.

Ecological Labs, established in Cape Coral in 1998, was originally founded in 1976 in New York by brothers Michael and Barry Richter. When it came time to expand the company and focus more on what the future of Ecological Labs could be, the brothers decided Florida was the best next step. After meeting with Lee County and Cape Coral officials at a convention, the family settled on Cape Coral as the perfect new home for their headquarters. Matthew Richter, son of Michael Richter and current Vice President and Chief Information Officer, shared why his family decided specifically on the Cape.

“The Cape offered the ability to find large amounts of space to grow, where there were very few options in New York due to the taxes and lack of space. Cape Coral is a blank canvas that allows people to structure the area to their business needs. We started with one small to medium-sized building and since then we have added on five additional buildings on the land we bought. It was extremely cost effective compared to other cities. The Cape gave us the opportunity to grow. Plus, benefits like no state income tax made it easier to convince our workers in New York to relocate to Florida. We could provide the same salary, but no state income tax, and homes twice their current size were half the price. Overall, it provided a much better lifestyle.”
Today, Matthew and his family including Gail Richter, Abby Richter, Brett Richter and Rachel Reichman, are looking forward to continuing to work together towards even more expansion in the City. Matthew Richter explained that there are many reasons the family-business has stayed in Cape Coral for over twenty years. Continued support from City and County government, and a place to grow their families as well as their structures, were all huge contributing factors. Additionally, at nearly 200,000 people and featuring the largest workforce between Tampa and Miami, Cape Coral has a readily available workforce that is a contributing factor for why family-owned businesses in the Cape plan to stay.

Richter also shared future goals stating, “Ecological Labs is currently in the architectural stage for building the last and final piece of property on our campus. Our goal is to have the sixth building completed in the next year to year and a half. This structure will include a new laboratory, new bio-technology manufacturing equipment and add much-needed space. These improvements mean we will need to hire even more local Cape employees.”
Another local Cape Coral company, Architectural Metal Flashings, is also a family owned and operated business which has called the Cape home since 2016. Husband and wife team Jeff and Darla Bonk chose Cape Coral for their business headquarters due to an abundance of local contractors and strong relationships with distributors throughout Florida. When asked to give advice on starting a family-owned and operated business, Jeff Bonk replied, “Pray a lot. If you are starting your own business, you need to have determination and the word ‘no’ cannot be in your vocabulary.”Architectural Metal Flashings was honored at the 2019 Horizon Council Industry Appreciation Award for Startup of the Year.
Jim Gaubeart of local favorite Cabinet Genies started in the kitchen and bath business over 40 years ago and has been proudly serving the Cape Coral area during that time. Roughly ten years ago, Nate and Jordan Gaubeart, both born in the Cape, joined the company. And just a few weeks ago, the family team broke ground on a brand-new showroom in South Cape. It is a 5300 square foot facility with a 1300 square foot outdoor event space. Slated to complete in early 2021, their goal is to make the showroom a destination location for anyone in the area interested in transforming their home into a beautiful space.

Cabinet Genies could have expanded and built their new showcase in almost any city, but to the Gaubeart family, Cape Coral is more than home; it’s smart business. Jordan Gaubeart shared, “At its heart Cape Coral is a blue-collar town that values honesty and directness. As a family-run business our reputation means everything and our clients word-of-mouth has been the number one reason we continue to grow and maintain our status as a trusted firm in the community. The city has also been seeing an ever-increasing amount of high-income professionals and retirees that expect high-quality products and reliability. The City is continuing to grow at a rapid pace and with the recent mass exodus from large cities to smaller towns, Cape Coral is highly desirable to a lot of these individuals, providing a happy medium of a smaller town feel with all the amenities a larger city can provide, including our beautiful waterfront.”
The City of Cape Coral has been a perfect location for family and small businesses for years. More family-owned businesses equate to job growth, population growth, support for local establishments and provide a foundation for economic growth. As the City continues to grow, the families who call Cape Coral home are growing with it and reaping the benefits of this quickly advancing community.

While working with family may not always be easy, family business owners like Gaubeart know it’s worth it. “We are incredibly fortunate to be working on our goals together. The challenges we face, we face together. The achievements we reach, we reach together. We are not alone trying to figure out how to overcome obstacles. We have someone we can trust without a shadow of a doubt and lean on for support. We all have our individual strengths that we bring to the table and make us stronger as a company. It is not easy, but is definitely worth it.”

Gator Mike's Family Fun Park Introduces a NEW Escape Room and Paintball Course. Visit Gator Mike's for tons of activities for all ages like Axe Throwing, Mini Golf, Go Karts, Zipline and more! Plus, enjoy excellent food and refreshing drinks at Latitude 78 Bar & Grille.

La Motta's on Pine Island Road is NOW OPEN! Stop by this unique Italian eatery featuring items like duck wings, keto-friendly dishes, gluten-free pasta options and the Swamp Pizza. La Motta's is located on Pine Island Road at 303 NE Third Ave. Indoor dining, take-out and delivery available.

Two Meatballs in the Kitchen opened with a bang in South Cape! The highly anticipated outlet features meatballs (of course) and other traditional Italian items made with high-quality ingredients and served in a lively atmosphere in the heart of Cape Coral. Grab Two Meatballs and then hit the town to explore all of South Cape’s dining and retail outlets.

Now, more than ever, all cities should maintain a pro-active “Business Retention & Expansion Strategy”; a key component of economic development. Such a strategy consists of establishing and maintaining a database of key employers within the local jurisdiction; conducting periodic business visits; if necessary utilizing a survey instrument to gauge the economic health of individual companies such as employment counts and revenues, growth or reduction issues, permitting, neighborhood challenges, key contacts, and providing them with news updates related to the surrounding community. Economic Development staff utilize this information to lay the groundwork for policy considerations such as potential economic incentives; permitting; site selection assistance; etc. Ultimately, the most important aspect of any local economic development strategy is “retaining and growing” your local businesses. It is normally far easier to retain and grow local companies than recruit new ones to an area.

Here in the Cape, the Economic Development Team pro-actively conducts business visits with several key employers generally on an annual basis. For those seeking to expand, recruit workers or undergoing building improvements through the City’s Permit process, the EDO’s Team will play a more active role and conduct several visits with the company serving in an ombudsperson role. Most recently, our team assisted two key employers with expansion support to help them hire more workers and grow their operations here in the Cape. The companies include:
  • Mercola.Com Natural Health Resources. This supplement company is located along Pine Island Road and relocated its headquarters from the Midwest to Cape Coral approximately 4 years ago. Company officials reached out to the EDO Team shortly after arriving to discuss plans for expansion and hiring more team members. With help from EDO, the company received an “economic incentive grant” to hire and relocate new workers with salaries well above $60,000. The City’s employment incentives are paid out annually after the employees have been on the job for a minimum of one year. As a result of the economic incentives received, this company now employs more than 120 employees and continues to grow locally.
  •  Insite Managed Solutions. This management services company was first established here in 2007 and has continued to grow for the past 13 years. The average salary of the workforce is $76,000; almost double the Lee County average of $44,000! The EDO Team has been working with company executives for the past few years with a goal to help them find a larger headquarters facility to support their growing operations. Earlier this year, the company secured a new building in the CRA and the City and CRA were able to assist with financial incentives for the acquisition, renovations and hiring which will result in a doubling of their workforce over the next 2-3 years.
In the coming months, the EDO team plans to work with other existing companies and ultimately developers and builders to help grow our economy. With limited office and industrial inventory available, it is crucial that the City establish a pro-active Economic Development Incentive Program to support the continued growth of existing businesses throughout the Cape. For more information on Business Retention & Expansion, please contact Nita Whaley, Business Recruitment & Expansion Specialist at 239-574-0443 or email