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Regional Economic Research Institute

The Regional Economic Research Institute (RERI) was developed to perform economic research, analysis, and forecasting for both the region and the individual economic development organizations in this area. The structure of the RERI includes partnership with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council and the area economic development organizations.

The director of RERI is Dr. Christopher Westley, Professor of Economics in the Lutgert College of Business.


August 27, 2015: Third Quarter Lee County Business Climate Survey - Report issued
View the report

July 25, 2014: Barriers to Small Business Growth - Report issued
View the report

Beginning with the first quarter of 2012, RERI has issuined the Lee County Business Climate Survey Report. This quarterly report is a result of a partnership between The Horizon Council and Florida Gulf Coast University. The Horizon Council is a public-private board established in 1991 to advise the Lee County Board of Commissioners on economic development issues.

The Report summarizes the results of the Executive Business Climate Survey. It provides a view of the local economy, based on responses from senior executives of companies from a broad range of industries across the county.

In addition to this quarterly report, RERI continues to issue a monthly report: Regional Economic Indicators, which analyzes a wide range of economic data from the 5-county region of Southwest Florida. It also includes National economic data of interest. The monthly Indicators report has been issued since early 2007.

Documents most recently issued by the Institute:
(For earlier documents, see the Archive page)

Our Quarterly Report
Lee County Business Climate Survey Report, Third Quarter 2015 pdf (25 pages)

Our Monthly Report:

Regional Economic Indicators, July 2015. pdf (23 pages)
The report was released by Dr. Christopher Westley, Director of RERI. Dr. Westley's comments at the release of the report on July 31, 2015:

It is my pleasure to provide you the July 2015 Southwest Florida Regional Economic Indicators Report. This report is provided by the Regional Economic Research Institute of the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University.

The U.S. economy grew at 2.3 percent in the second quarter of 2015, the Commerce Department reported on July 30. This figure, which is sure to be revised, fell below most economists’ estimates and follows a weaker first quarter growth rate of 0.6 percent, itself an upward revision from previous estimates that indicated contraction. While many economists project stronger growth during the remainder of 2015, a Federal Reserve staff forecast inadvertently released to the public in June predicted overall growth of 1.55 percent for the year. Nonetheless, the Fed hinted in its June policy statement it sees enough strength in the labor market to justify raising its short-term interest rate target. The decision to “remove policy accommodation” may yet be delayed by events in China and Greece, as well as trends in retail sales and oil prices.

Seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales for April 2015 were up seven percent ($126 million) over April 2014. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues for May 2015 were up three percent for the region encompassing Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. May 2015 passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports was four percent higher than the May 2014 figure. Another positive sign came from Realtor® sales of existing single-family homes, with the three coastal counties reporting an eight percent increase from June 2014 to June 2015, along with increases in median prices.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the five-county region dropped to 5.2 percent in June 2015 compared to 6.1 percent a year earlier, while unemployment for the state of Florida was 5.5 percent in June 2015, a decrease of eight-tenths of a percent in June 2014. The national unemployment rate in June 2015 was 5.3 percent, down from 6.1 percent in May 2014. The June 2015 national, state, and regional unemployment rates all showed improvement from the previous month.

The June Bureau of Labor Statistics Establishment Survey showed that national nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000 for the month, a decrease of 31,000 from May. Employment growth nationally averaged 245,000 per month over the last 12 months. The June employment increases included 64,000 in professional and business services, 40,000 in health care, 33,000 in retail trade, 22,000 in leisure and hospitality, 20,000 in financial activities, and 17,000 in transportation and warehousing. June decreases in employment included 4,000 in mining. Employment in construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, information, and government showed little or no change over the month.

Please see the rest of the report for more detail.

Our sincere thanks to the individuals and organizations who contribute to this report. These include the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, the Economic Development Organizations of Charlotte, Collier, and Lee Counties, the Convention and Visitors Bureaus of Collier and Lee Counties, the regional airport authorities, the Realtors® of Lee and Collier County, the University of Florida Survey Research Center, and the county and city permit offices.

Chris Westley

The most recently published study:

Barriers to Small Business Growth
July 25, 2014 pdf (44 pages)
The purpose of this survey is to better understand the factors that are limiting small business growth in the greater Lee County area. This survey provides insights about key concerns and issues facing small businesses.

Many additional documents that can be reviewed and downloaded are available on the Reports and Studies page.

Links to our partner organizations are available on the Links pagae.

To request more information, see the Contact Us page.


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