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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.


December 11, 2015: Fourth 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, Fourth Quarter 2015 pdf (20 pages)

Our Monthly Report:

Regional Economic Indicators, January 2016. 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 January 30, 2016:

It is my pleasure to provide you the January 2016 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.

Southwest Florida’s economy continued to exhibit strong growth when compared to the same period last year, with seasonally-adjusted regional taxable sales up 8 percent in October 2015 over October 2014. Seasonally-adjusted tourist tax revenues for the coastal counties climbed 8 percent in November 2015 compared to November 2014. Passenger activity for the three Southwest Florida airports was 8 percent higher in November 2015 than November 2014. Meanwhile, the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the five-county region was 4.9 percent in December—an improvement over the 5.6 percent figure for December 2014. Similar patterns were observed for the state of Florida.

Florida ranked third in the nation with a month-over-month increase in employment of 21,900, behind California’s 60,400 jobs and Texas’ 24,900 jobs.Most of the job gains in the state occurred in professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, trade transportation, and utilities, and construction.

Lee County recorded an employment increase of 6,449 in December 2015 compared to December 2014, or 2.1 percent. Collier County reported an employment increase of 341, or 0.2 percent. Charlotte County reported an employment increase of 541 or 0.9 percent. While Glades County reported an employment decrease of 193, or 4.0 percent, Hendry County reported an increase of 375, or 2.4 percent. For comparison, the state of Florida reported an increase in overall employment of 0.9 percent from December 2014 to December 2015. This employment data is seasonally adjusted by the RERI.

Lee and Collier counties recorded increases in single-family building permits in December 2015 compared to December 2014. Although existing single family home sales by a Realtor® decreased by 3 percent for those counties during the same time period, there were substantial increases in median prices. The Florida consumer sentiment index showed an increase over the prior year, despite a dip from the previous month.

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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