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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. Gary Jackson, Assistant Professor of Economics in the Lutgert College of Business.


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

It is my pleasure to provide you the March 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.

The Southwest Florida economy continues to show moderate to fast growth, often surpassing national averages of key economic indicators, suggesting that elements of the national recovery are currently stronger in our region. The relative strength of our economy was confirmed in part by a March release of population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau ranking Lee and Collier counties among the top 10 fastest-growing metropolitan areas from July 2013 to July 2014. A forecast released by the United States Conference of Mayors earlier this year underscores the role of employment in explaining such gains. It ranked Naples and Cape Coral-Fort Myers as No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, out of 363 markets in employment growth.

The fourth quarter U.S. real GDP estimate for growth was revised to 2.2 percent. The third quarter real GDP grew more rapidly at 5.0 percent, faster than the second quarter growth rate of 4.6 percent. The fourth quarter increase reflects positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures, exports, state and local government spending, and nonresidential and residential fixed investment, but these were somewhat offset by private inventory investment and changes in federal government spending. U.S. real average weekly earnings increased by 2.5 percent from February 2014 to February 2015.

The regional economy continues to improve. Seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales for December 2014 were up 10 percent ($180.4 million) over December 2013. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues for the three coastal counties were up 27 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014. Passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports in January 2015 was 10 percent above the January 2014 figure. February 2015 sales of existing single-family homes for the three coastal counties were up 16 percent over February 2014.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the five-county region declined to 5.6 percent in February 2015 from 6.1 a year earlier. Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent in February 2015 from 6.5 percent in February 2014. The national unemployment rate in February 2015 was 5.5 percent, down from 6.7 percent in February 2014. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or longer) remained at 2.7 million, which is 31.1percent of all unemployed.

The national consumer price index (CPI) was unchanged from February 2014 to February 2015. The shelter index (rental equivalence measure for homeowner costs) has risen 3.0 percent over the last 12 months. Medical care services increased 1.8 percent, and energy prices decreased 18.8 percent. Core inflation (all items less food and energy) increased by 1.7 percent. As reported last month, national housing prices increased 4.5 percent for the 20-city composite S & P Case-Shiller Home Price Index in the 12 months ending December 2014.

The Regional Economic Research Institute in cooperation with The Lutgert College of Business, and Christensen Financial are hosting Market Outlook 2015 on April 3, 2015, at the Cohen Center on the campus of FGCU. The speakers include David Altig, Director of Research and Executive VP of the Atlanta Federal Reserve, Douglas Duncan, Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, and Gary Jackson, Director of the Regional Economic Research Institute at FGCU. Conference information is available at www.mbaswf.org.

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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