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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, September 2015. pdf (21 pages)
The report was released by Dr. Christopher Westley, Director of RERI. Dr. Westley's comments at the release of the report on September 30, 2015:

It is my pleasure to provide you the September 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 Southwest Florida economy continued to exhibit strong growth, with the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the five-county region falling to 5.1 percent for August—a full percentage point decrease from August 2014. Similar patterns were observed for the state of Florida and the nation, as noted on page 12 of this report. Seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales were up 10 percent in June 2015 versus June 2014. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues for July 2015 were up six percent for the region encompassing Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. July 2015 passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports was four percent higher than the July 2014 figure, fueled largely by a spike in traffic at Punta Gorda Airport.

The August Bureau of Labor Statistics Establishment Survey showed that national nonfarm payroll employment increased by 173,000 in August 2015 compared to August 2014, a decrease of 72,000 from July and below the 12-month average job growth of 243,250. The state of Florida contributed 19,600 of these jobs, which is more than 11 percent of the national job gain for the month.

For the 12-month period ending in August 2015, the state of Florida added 261,500 jobs, led by jobs in Education and Health Services (59,700), Leisure and Hospitality (55,600), and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (55,600). This state-level data is seasonally adjusted. The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area recorded an increase of 6,500 jobs in August 2015 compared to August 2014, or 2.9 percent. The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metropolitan area reported 4,100 new jobs, or 3.2 percent. The Punta Gorda metropolitan area reported 1,700 new jobs, or 4.0 percent.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met on September 17, and decided that U.S. economic conditions were still too fragile to weather an increase in the Federal Funds target interest rate. Nonetheless, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen said in a speech the following week in Amherst, Mass., that based on labor market trends and expected inflationary pressure, the Fed intends to raise its benchmark rate by the end of 2015. “Achieving these conditions will likely entail an initial increase in the federal funds rate later this year, followed by a gradual pace of tightening thereafter,” Ms. Yellen said. “But if the economy surprises us, our judgments about appropriate monetary policy will change.”

Please see the rest of the report for more detail.

Christopher Westley, Ph.D.
Director, Regional Economic Research Institute
   and Professor of Economics
Lutgert College of Business
Florida Gulf Coast University

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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