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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.


May 22, 2015: Second 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, Second Quarter 2015 pdf (26 pages)

Our Monthly Report:

Regional Economic Indicators, June 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 June 26, 2015:

It is my pleasure to provide you the June 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.

A revised first quarter real GDP estimate indicated U.S. economic output fell 0.7 percent, and although there are concerns about data collection problems resulting in weaker-than-average first quarter measures for GDP in recent years, the general consensus is that the higher-than-expected trade deficit contributed to the revision. In the third and fourth quarters of 2014, GDP increased 5.0 and 2.2 percent, respectively. In contrast, the Southwest Florida economy continued to exhibit strong growth in June compared to last year. In general, the regional economic data suggest an economy still in a strong recovery mode as we move into a slower summer season.

While the second quarter GDP figures for 2015 are expected to show improvement, the national economy continues to exhibit conflicting signals, with strong monthly jobs reports and wage pressure associated with the boom phase of the business cycle, coupled with weak manufacturing output. Meanwhile, statements emanating from the recent Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meeting (see below) reiterated its intention to begin a slow, calculated process to raise short-term rates and inch away from the zero-bound interest rate policy it has maintained since December 2008.

Seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales for March 2015 were up 10 percent over March 2014. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues were up nine percent for the region encompassing Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. April 2015 passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports was four percent higher than the April 2014 figure. Continuing the positive trend, Realtor® sales of existing single-family homes for the three coastal counties in May 2015 were up two percent over May 2014, along with substantial increases in median prices.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the five-county region was 5.6 percent in May 2015 compared to 6.4 percent a year earlier, while Florida’s unemployment rate amounted to 5.7 percent in May 2015, down from 6.3 percent in May 2014. The national unemployment rate in May 2015 was 5.5 percent, down from 6.3 percent in May 2014. The May 2015 national, state, and regional unemployment rates were each 0.1 points higher than the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed in the U.S. (those jobless for 27 weeks or longer) was 2.5 million in May 2015, which is a 25.3 percent decrease from May 2014 and 28.6 percent of all unemployed.

The May Bureau of Labor Statistics Establishment Survey showed that national nonfarm payroll employment increased by 280,000 for the month, an increase of 59,000 from April. Employment growth nationally has averaged 251,000 per month over the last 12 months.

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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