Punta Gorda Airport Has Busiest Month in Traffic History

Plus: The future of Immokalee, a business partnership, spring training report, and multi-million-dollar recycling facility opens, in this week’s top news.



Need to catch up on business news in Southwest Florida? No problem. Here are the top stories of the week pulled from our daily newsletter, Gulfshore Business Daily

Friday, April 13

PGD Has Record-Breaking March Traffic

Punta Gorda Airport (PGD) experienced its busiest month in history in March, with a 36.07 percent increase in commercial passenger traffic over March 2017. At 192,947 total Allegiant passengers, PGD’s March 2018 passenger traffic exceeded any previous month, with 94,795 boarding passengers and 98,152 arriving passengers. The record for the busiest month was previously held by March 2017 at 141,802 total passengers. PGD has also experienced a strong increase in general aviation traffic, with its tower reporting a total of 8,282 takeoffs and landings in March 2018. Of that total, Allegiant’s takeoffs and landings totaled 1,266. The total number of passengers traveling through PGD via Allegiant in January, February and March 2018 was 455,924, compared with 356,856 during the first quarter of 2017, resulting in a 27.76 average quarterly increase. The first quarter of 2018 resulted in a 29.3 percent increase in passenger traffic over the final quarter of 2017. ​

Thursday, April 12

FGCU Researchers Examine Immokalee

Researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University are examining the future of Immokalee’s economy with a new survey targeting business owners and executives, with results published in the 2018 Immokalee Economic Overview report. Collectively, the initial respondents have an optimistic outlook when it comes to doing business in the Collier County community. Seventy-one percent of survey respondents said they expected improved industry conditions within a year. They also indicated having little problem finding qualified workers for openings. Forty-eight percent of executives believed that incorporation is very or somewhat important for Immokalee, while 39 percent believe it is unimportant. Roughly two-thirds of the people surveyed are also concerned about excessive costs related to change. The demographic findings point to a struggling community. Per capita incomes are less than half of those recorded for Collier County as a whole. Agriculture dominates economic activity, resulting in a seasonal and low-paid workforce. Only 31 Immokalee business leaders participated in the survey; the lack of participation creates a 10 percent margin of error, but the initial report may still serve as a baseline for future studies. To read the full report, visit https://fgcu.edu/reri.​

Wednesday, April 11

Baby Basics, The BirthPlace Partner

The BirthPlace of NCH Healthcare System will serve as a referral agency for Baby Basics of Collier County. Referral agencies help by identifying families that qualify for the Baby Basics program, including families with at least one working parent or guardian, families with a demonstrated financial need, or families who are not receiving federal or state cash assistance. For more information about Baby Basics of Collier County, visit www.BabyBasicsCollier.org.​

Tuesday, April 10

Spring Training Yields Strong 2018 Attendance

More than 276,000 fans attended Major League Baseball spring training games this year at Lee County Parks & Recreation’s JetBlue Park and Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex. The Boston Red Sox led all 15 teams in the Florida Grapefruit League with a total attendance of 165,688 at JetBlue. The Minnesota Twins drew 110,770 fans to CenturyLink, despite having one rainout. Both teams ranked in the top three in the state in average attendance per game. Statewide, about 1.5 million fans attended 237 spring training games, for an average of 6,318 per game, during the course of 33 days. The 2018 Florida Spring Training attendance figure accounts for all games between Major League teams played in the state. Attendance is compiled daily by the Florida Sports Foundation, the State of Florida’s sports promotion and development organization and a Division of Enterprise Florida, Inc., and is verified by each team. Lee County Sports Development, Lee County Parks & Recreation and The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau play an integral role in supporting spring training efforts. The county’s tourist tax covers the debt service (bond payment) and major maintenance on the stadiums.​

Monday, April 9

WM Recycling Opens $3 Million Recycling Facility

Waste Management Inc. of Florida has invested $3 million in the construction of the new WM Recycling Naples facility at 4475 Exchange Ave., Naples. The 14,000 square-foot building and site feature automated technologies to improve safety and efficiency in the management of Collier County’s 3,500 tons of single-stream recycling and 4,000 tons of construction demolition and debris generated each month in the county. With a self-service weigh station and multiple bays, both Waste Management trucks and local contractors will be able to offload their materials faster and more efficiently. The site’s layout has been configured to streamline the drive pattern to minimize turns and increase safety for the drivers. Additionally, there are multiple loaders to manage the recycling and construction and demolition material, which speeds processing and provides redundancy in equipment to ensure streamlined operations. For more information, visit www.wm.com or www.thinkgreen.com

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