Economic Development, Industry & Business in SWFL

The most amazing discovery during the economic development segment of Leadership Bonita was the number of organizations in southwest Florida who offer advice, guidance and incentives for bringing business and industry to Southwest Florida, Lee County and the city of Bonita springs, Florida.

A day full of economic development experts speaking all day is overwhelming.  Since I didn’t have my tablet I jotted down URL’s in my smart phone and took every flyer or pamphlet anyone offered.

Boiling down economic development and the position of businesses or business owners is impossible after a deluge of information like that.  What I came away with is how important it is for a business owner or a person developing a business thinking of moving to the area to get in contact with the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce

Many of the available incentives have specific guidelines and deadlines.  For example, there could be grants, abatement programs or other financial incentives for business to move to Lee County or Bonita Springs but you may need to approach the right organization prior to the move, prior to purchasing or leasing real estate for the business to be qualified.

Sometimes you just need to know which area will have the most benefit for the bottom line of establishing your business, such as a storefront, medical office or office space.  The city of Bonita Springs currently offers an abatement program which can save tens of thousands of dollars in impact fees to a new business doing tenant improvements or improving the infrastructure of existing commercial real estate space.

Quite literally, the keys to information, clever ideas and incentives can all be found through the Chamber of Commerce representatives who know which programs can benefit business owners and who to put you in contact with. That being said, I’ll list the URL’s of importance so you can do some homework but I would urge you to contact the Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce.

  • www.BonitaSpringsChamber.comBonita Springs Chamber of Commerce
  • Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council -is fairly new and the website is in development
  • www.FortMyersRegionalPartnership.com – Fort Myers Regional Partnerships, Horizon Council, Horizon Foundation, Industrial Development Authority.
  • www.SWFLWorks.org – Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board – Employee screening, placement and training with tax incentives to businesses.
  • www.swfrtp.org – Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership - The SWFRTP is a Professional Technology Partnership whose goal it is to develop and sustain a vibrant community of technologically diverse professionals, establish an innovation and technology cluster in the  Southwest Florida area and be the leading resource to foster success for technology-oriented organizations and professionals in the Southwest Florida.
  • www.growfl.com - Initially funded by the Florida Legislature, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute and its GrowFL program helped second-stage companies statewide create 1,400 direct jobs over two years.
  • www.facebook.com/groups/edtodayEconomic Development Today Facebook
  • www.businessdirectory.leegov.com – Lee County Business Directory
  • www.gcvf.com - The Gulf Coast Venture Forum (”the GCVF”) is a Florida 501(c) 6 non-profit corporation, formed in 2001. The primary purpose of the GCVF is to promote the success of Southwest Florida’s new and emerging businesses by educating and bringing together the best entrepreneurs and Angel Investors.


This post is part of a series written over the 2011-2012 year documenting the Leadership Bonita Program.  Other chapters are below in chronological order: 

Leadership Bonita | Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce

Leadership Bonita | The Retreat

Leadership Bonita | Economic Development