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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, October 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 October 30, 2015:

It is my pleasure to provide you the October 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 registering at 5.2 percent for September - a marked improvement over the measure of 6.0 for September 2014. Similar patterns were observed for the state of Florida. Seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales were up 9 percent in July 2015 versus July 2014. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues for August 2015 were down 1 percent for the region encompassing Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. August 2015 passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports was 5 percent higher than the August 2014 figure, fueled partly by the 23rd consecutive record month at Punta Gorda Airport.

For the 12-month period ending in September 2015, the state of Florida added 235,700 jobs - a 3 percent increase. For some perspective, this number is second only to California's, which recorded 444,300 new jobs during the same period, and exceeded that of Texas, which recorded 224,800 new jobs. However, Florida's month-to-month job gain was quite low at 2,100, well below Texas' measure of 26,600 and even Georgia's 9,100.

The Leisure and Hospitality sector led the state with 58,100 jobs (an increase of 4.3 percent), followed by Education and Health Services with 50,200 jobs (an increase of 4.3 percent) and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities with 44,500 jobs (an increase of 2.7 percent). However, some of the traditionally higher-paying job sectors shrank in September compared to August, including Government, Professional and Business Services, Education and Health Services, Manufacturing, and Information. This state-level data, collected by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is seasonally adjusted.

Construction emerged as Florida's bright spot in September, according to a report issued by the Associated General Contractors of America (a trade group) on October 20th. Florida led the nation in construction jobs in September, adding 3,200 jobs for the month, exceeding Louisiana (3,100 jobs), New Jersey (2,800), and Texas (2,800). The report said that labor shortages hamper this industry which, if they persist, should contribute to upward pressures on construction wages over time.

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area recorded an employment increase of 5,300 in September 2015 compared to September 2014, or 2.3 percent. The Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island metropolitan area reported an employment increase of 4,200, or 3.3 percent. The Punta Gorda metropolitan area reported an employment increase of 1,400, or 3.0 percent. However, all three metropolitan areas recorded monthly declines in their labor forces, with 1,832 leaving the labor force in Cape Coral-Fort Myers, 68 in Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, and 116 in Punta Gorda.

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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