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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.

Highlights

April 3, 2015: Market Outlook 2015
RERI, in partnership with Christensen Financial and the Mortgage Bankers Association of Southwest Florida, presented an annual review and outlook for national and regional economies.
Presentations from the conference are linked below:

Economic Update: Dr. David Altig, Director of Research and Executive Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

The Economy Drags Housing Upward: Dr. Douglas Duncan, chief economist, Fannie Mae

The Southwest Florida Economy: Dr. Dr. Gary Jackson, Director, RERI

February 27, 2015: First 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, First Quarter 2015 pdf (33 pages)

Our Monthly Report:

Regional Economic Indicators, April 2015. pdf (23 pages)
The April report was released by Dr. Christopher Westley, Associate Director of RERI. Dr. Westley's comments at the release of the report on April 30, 2015:

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

While Lee and Collier posted unemployment rates among the lowest in the state, with 5.1 and 4.8 percent respectively, Hendry County's measure of 7.4 percent reflected an improvement of 1.7 percentage points from the previous year. Improved unemployment rates in the region also reflected positive seasonal effects that are expected to recede as summer becomes closer.

Such positive economic developments for Southwest Florida continue to contrast with less certain economic performance in the United States and Europe. On April 29, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a tepid real GDP growth estimate for the first quarter of 2015 of only 0.2 percent, following 2.2 percent for the fourth quarter of 2014 and a more robust 5.0 percent for the third quarter of 2014. U.S. real average weekly earnings increased by 2.3 percent from March 2014 to March 2015. Meanwhile, manufacturing indices released by the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Richmond, Dallas, and Kansas City suggested soft manufacturing conditions persist in much of the country. In Europe, while the European Central Bank is in the early stages of a new bond-buying program to thwart deflationary pressures and spur economic activity, negotiations between Greek and ECB officials continue to create uncertainty.

The Florida Consumer Sentiment Index reached its highest level in 10 years. Seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales for January 2015 were up 10 percent ($189 million) over January 2014. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues for the three coastal counties were up 15 percent in February 2015, compared to February 2014. Passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports in February 2015 was six percent above the February 2014 figure. Realtor® sales of existing single-family homes for the three coastal counties in March 2015 were up 20 percent over March 2014, along with substantial increases in median prices.

The national consumer price index (CPI) decreased in March by 0.1 percentage points. The shelter index (rental equivalence measure for homeowner costs) has risen 3.0 percent over the last 12 months. Medical care services increased 1.9 percent, and energy prices decreased 18.3 percent. Core inflation (all items less food and energy) increased by 1.8 percent. National housing prices increased 5.0 percent for the 20-city composite S & P Case-Shiller Home Price Index in the 12 months ending February 2015.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation 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.


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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