December 2018

Cape Coral: Safe City Ranking

Cape Coral was included again in WalletHub's "25 Safest Cities in the U.S." The study examined 182 American cities and used 39 key indicators to compare their home and community safety, natural disaster risk and financial safety. Cape Coral came in No. 24.
Great Place to Retire

Cape Coral landed in the 2018 edition of the popular "America's 100 Best Places to Retire" guidebook. For the list, the editors of "Where to Retire" magazine ranked 800 U.S. towns after 11 months of research and 670 retiree interviews. Cape Coral has ranked high on other retirement lists, but it's the first time the city made it on this one. There are 35 states and 18 Florida locales on the list. The cities vary in size, climate, amenities and lifestyle, and each falls into one of 10 categories that focus on the city's defining feature, such as beaches, mountains, low costs, four seasons and appealing downtowns. The magazine and book told a local newspaper that Cape Coral's Southwest 47th Terrace amenities and proposed Village Square development helped the city rank high this year, as well as its proximity to Sanibel and Pine Island. Find out more: Where to Retire
The Best of 2018: Economic Development Highlights

Photo taken during construction of Atrium at Liberty Park along Pine Island Road.

Readers may know that the Cape Coral metro area ranks No. 9 in Forbes' "2018 America's Fastest-Growing Cities." As Terri Hall notes in her message this month, 2018 has been a good year for economic growth in Cape Coral. Here is a select list highlighting more impressive strides that keep moving the Cape forward:
* The Pine Island Road corridor is booming. It saw the opening this year of the Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership , Burlington, Five Below and others. And the corridor will continue to grow: An estimated 400 acres of commercially zoned land worth a combined $100 million are for sale on both sides of the road.

* Midtown Coastal Luxury Living Apartments opened, and several other large multi-unit projects, including senior care facilities, such as Thrive at Four Mile Cove, are on the rise. The apartment complex, Uptown at Liberty Park, opened its first building in July with a second under construction.

* Myriad Luxury Motorcoach Resort recently broke ground on its long-planned, high-end motorcoach lifestyle destination at 4100 Burnt Store Road and Durden Parkway in Cape Coral. Located one mile south of Burnt Store Marina, t he centerpiece of the 188-acre resort is a 90-acre lake.

* The city welcomed 1,579 new businesses in Cape Coral from January through November. We also welcomed several new eateries and breweries to our growing menu of gastronomic goodness.

* Several existing companies are in expansion mode, such as Keltour Controls Inc, Insite Managed Solutions and Coral Ridge Funeral Home and Cemetery.

* The Westin Meeting & Events Center marked its first year in operation, reporting $3 million in expanded revenue.

* Cape Coral's first no-kill animal shelter broke ground with a goal to complete the approximately 6,500-square-foot structure in one year. The Cape Coral Animal Shelter will be located next to Sun Splash Family Waterpark.

* Creighton Commercial Construction & Development completed the redevelopment of a 13,301-square-foot, multi-tenant building at 1625 Cape Coral Parkway East. Creighton also broke ground on 8 acres at the southeast corner of Santa Barbara Boulevard and Veterans Parkway, which will be anchored by Lucky's Market.

* The Cape Coral City Council approved a formal partnership to find developers for the Seven Islands project in Northwest Cape Coral. The city is working with CBRE, the world's largest commercial real estate services and investment firm.

Rev Your Engines: Charity Car Show

Mark your calendar and promote your business at the Cape Coral Charity Car Show on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Jaycee Park.
This annual fundraising event is sponsored by Cape Coral First United Methodist Church and benefits the Cape Coral Caring Center, with a goal of raising $30,000 at the 2019 event.
Here's how you can participate: Enter your truck or car (there are 200 spaces), become a sponsor, and find out about being a vendor. The day includes food, raffles, lots of vendors and information booths, trophies, and music this year by D.J. Tommy Tunes.
Get involved and promote your business while having a fun-filled day. For more information or to register, call Phil Deems at (239) 822-1101 for details or visit Register: Car Show

New Cape Coral Businesses
Business Card top  
113  new businesses registered for Cape Coral Business Tax Receipts
in November 2018.
Click here to view new Cape Coral business reports. 
Free Government Contracting Workshop


Learn how you can grow your business in the new year by winning federal contracts. CareerSource Southwest Florida and the Florida Small Business Development Center have partnered to offer a free, three-part course that covers the basics, from understanding the solicitation and crafting a proposal to subcontracting. It is presented in an open-question format by Florida Gulf Coast University Lutgert College of Business Procurement Specialist Daniel Telep, Jr.

The workshops will be held on Friday afternoons: Jan. 4, 11 and 18, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Location: CareerSource in Fort Myers. Call 239-745-3700 or register online: Workshop Registration

Prepare for a New Job in the New Year

Do you have a teenager or college-age child striking out into the workforce for the first time? Have you been stuck in a rut with plans for switching to a new job, but haven't been in the market for a long time?
Audrey Mayrent, Southwest Florida Job-Link Coordinator for Goodwill Industries, is hosting a series of free Employment Workshop presentations at the Cape Coral Lee County Public Library in January that will cover all aspects of the job hunt. Each one will be held on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Jan. 2: Strategy vs. "Velcro" Most people look for work by sending out tons of resumes to see what will stick. Savvy job seekers set a plan for getting the job.
Jan. 9: Presenting...Me! It takes less than 30 seconds to make a great first impression. Learn how to dazzle the interviewers and present your best self.
Jan. 16:  Interview 101 Ever wonder why interviewers ask the questions they do? Do you struggle with how to answer these questions or prepare for an interview? Preparation equals confidence.
Jan. 23:  Resume vs. Application Why do you have to supply information on your application that you've already included on your resume? What skills should you showcase? Use these great tools to market yourself into your dream job.
Jan. 30: You Got the Job, Now What? You got a fantastic job. What can you do to ensure you successfully get the training you need to learn your position? How do you ace the introductory period? Make the most of your new position.
Cape Coral Lee County Public Library is located at 921 S.W. 39th Terrace. Call ( 239) 533-4500 for more information.


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Message From Your EDO Interim Manager

A Successful 2018: Year in Review

Terri Hall Looking at 2018 in the rearview mirror, the Cape Coral Economic Development Office is proud of many accomplishments that will continue to nourish the city's economic environment and benefit all of our local business owners and residents.
The November passage of the Parks GO (General Obligation) Bond by Cape Coral voters paves the way for the acceleration of upgrading and expanding parks and community amenities, the type of investment that improves our quality of life and helps fuel the economy. The Parks & Recreation Department and city officials plan to improve existing parks and develop seven new neighborhood parks and three community parks. Several longitudinal studies show parks and green space bolster the economy and increase property values, in addition to providing wellness and socialization to residents.
Another advancement occurred in late 2017, when the Economic Development Master Plan was adopted, so we have a solid blueprint for growing and expanding our economy. It includes initiatives, objectives, strategies and actions for diversifying and increasing the city's commercial tax base through the next five years.
The EDO team has also successfully crafted and implemented incentive programs to attract emerging sectors. These incentive programs have provided assistance in bringing to Cape Coral several projects, including the world headquarters for Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats and Liberty Village, as well as other mixed-use developments.
Like doting parents, we are pleased to note that our monthly 4th Wednesday BizChats have grown so popular that we changed the venue to accommodate the crowd of small and new business owners who take advantage of this opportunity to network. Another monthly outreach program was launched this year: BizWalks. Members of our team and representatives of other organizations meet with local business owners at their site to learn more about their operations, successes and challenges. This has been a fruitful and engaging initiative that is broadening and strengthening relationships throughout the business community.
There have been other successes. See "The Best of 2018" for other exciting developments in the city this year. We'd like to thank all of our partners for playing an important role in achieving these accomplishments this year and are eager to see the impact these partnerships will continue to have in 2019.

Terri Hall
City of Cape Coral
Interim Economic Development Manager
The Gathering Table Invites Community, Supports Social Enterprise

This combination coffee shop and consignment store sells artwork made by developmentally disabled entrepreneurs and local artists.

The Gathering Table in Cape Coral is a coffee shop and bakery with a consignment boutique featuring women's clothes, shoes and accessories and local artwork. And it's a whole lot more to the groups that gather for yoga, cancer, MS and memory care support groups, painting sessions and crafting.
It opened a year ago under a different name as a Grace Church thrift store but evolved in September into a multi-programmed space with a new mission and its arms opened wide to the community. Everything in the store is sold at "very discounted prices," says marketing associate and assistant manager Sherri Wambolt, to put the venue's focus on camaraderie and fellowship rather than revenue. "We're a safe place for people to gather and enjoy food and beverages at really reduced costs," she says.

Grace Church is a multi-site Methodist United congregation with five church campuses and other sites, including The Gathering Table. In 2013, the church launched its social enterprise program, Exceptional Entrepreneurs, to provide job skills training and employment opportunities to developmentally disabled adults over the age of 18. Exceptional Entrepreneur participants create a varied line of artwork and other products sold at The Gathering Place and at The Franklin Shops in downtown Fort Myers. Their products include garden art made from repurposed record albums, ornaments, centerpieces, body scrubs and coasters. Items such as lawn art can be customized with specific sports team colors and themes. Proceeds go back into funding the program.
When developmentally disabled teens age out of the education system, "there was no job placement or way to learn job skills, and they were falling through the cracks," explains Wambolt, a church member of 21 years. The entrepreneurs work three days a week in a group. "It's very empowering," Wambolt says. Exceptional Entrepreneurs currently has more than a dozen participants and is preparing to expand into the former space of Beach Brothers BBQ, which will provide an opportunity to also expand into culinary training. The program and The Gathering Table are located in the same plaza. 
Manager Sarah Davis, left, with Assistant Manager and Marketing Associate Sherri Wambolt
The Gathering Table sources its coffee locally from Java D'oro Gourmet Coffee Roasters in Cape Coral and from local bakeries, though most of the cupcakes and other goodies are made by Gathering Table Manager Sarah Davis. Wambolt invites all local groups seeking a place to meet up to consider the café and consignment. "The goal of our shop is to be available to the community in any way, shape or form," says Wambolt.

To volunteer or support Exceptional Entrepreneurs, contact Margaret Wear at (239) 292-3508 or

The Gathering Table * 601 N Del Prado Blvd., #14 * (239) 599-4780 Facebook Page
VR/Wesson Earns CareerSource Workforce Training Grant

Local businesses can apply for grant to train and retain employees

Front row from left: Ruth Buchanan, Director of Business Development, Lee County Economic Development; Steven Scott, Vice President of Sales, VR/Wesson; and Nita Whaley, Business Recruitment Specialist, Cape Coral EDO.  Back row from left: Tom Fliss, President/Owner, VR/ Wesson; Kevin Hawk, Cape Coral Technical College; Bill Welch, CareerSource Florida; and Neil Kagan, SWFL Manufacturers Association. The group gathered during a recent BizWalk.

Cape Coral-based VR/Wesson has been awarded a $30,375 CareerSource Florida Incumbent Worker Training grant to train its manufacturing employees to meet the requirements for international standards certification.
During the next year, VR/Wesson will focus on obtaining the latest version of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification as an advanced manufacturer for the aerospace and medical device industries. ISO certifications ensure that global specifications for products, services and systems are met to ensure quality, safety and efficiency on an international level.
VR/Wesson has been applying ISO standards in its operations since it opened, though it will be training it staff to achieve a specific ISO certification which will " expand opportunities to get more business," said Vice President of Sales Steven Scott, who's been with the company since 2004. Expanded global business will likely result in the need to hire more people and possibly expand its current operation, Scott said.
VR/Wesson manufactures standard cutting tool inserts, tool holders and milling cutters for a broad range of industries: automotive, steelmaking, agricultural, construction and mining equipment, marine, sport and recreational engines, and lawn equipment. The company, located in North Cape Industrial Park, employs a staff of about 30 who operate high-end, robotic manufacturing machines that can run 24-hours a day. Owner and president Tom Fliss was the owner of AGI, a similar type of company, when he relocated to Cape Coral in 1999. He acquired VR/Wesson in 2003.
The Cape Coral EDO team recently toured VR/Wesson's manufacturing facility during a monthly BizWalk, designed for the EDO team to personally meet local business owners and learn first-had about their operations, products, services and needs.
Strengthening the local workforce and expanding job opportunities are key goals of CareerSource. The Florida Incumbent Worker Training grant ensures small businesses can retain and train full-time employees. The grants reimburse Florida companies up to 75 percent for pre-approved training costs. Companies choose their training provider based on the skills needed.
Learn more about VR/Wesson:

Find out about CareerSource Florida:

Restaurant Round-Up

LadyCakes Bakery Earns National Award

For the third year in a row, Cape Coral-based LadyCakes Bakery has received an award for The Knot Best of Weddings, recognizing the highest-rated wedding professionals based on votes by couples in the throes of their nuptials. Only two percent of wedding professionals were selected for this distinguished honor. LadyCakes Bakery is owned and operated by Bess and Jeff Charles and is going into its fifth year of business.
2924 Del Prado Blvd. South, Unit 7 * (239) 549-2253 * LadyCakes

Maverick Grille Open

Maverick Grille held a grand-opening celebration in early November for its new location at 1402 Del Prado Blvd. The "build it your way" restaurant serves gyros and wraps, rice-and-beans bowls, salads and soup. It also opened two new locations in Fort Myers. Find out more at

Gather Open for Breakfast, Marks Anniversary

Gather at Tarpon Point Marina recently celebrated its one-year anniversary with a rooftop party that included teaming up with Pinchers, Nice Guys, Rollin' Raw Bar and Pink Taco. It also recently announced a return to serving breakfast. The waterfront restaurant is owned by Hoffman Group Holdings, the hospitality company that also owns Fathoms Restaurant & Bar, The French Press at Cape Harbour Marina and Black Salt Catering. Find out more: Gather