The end of the year is a natural time to look back and take stock, perhaps even more so than usual in this landmark year of change.
Although it might be unusually difficult to remember the first eight months of 2022 given the events of Sept. 28 and the subsequent recovery from Hurricane Ian, as our senior editors David Dorsey and Tim Aten chronicled, it was overall a year of economic growth and change in Southwest Florida.
Small “mini-strip” retail centers saw major expansion, anchored by quick-service restaurants and wellness or experiential providers, while many big-box product-based stores either shrank their footprints or worked to diversify their businesses, and medical retailers continued to perform very strongly. The housing market, meanwhile, dropped substantially in 2022, and apartments and rental properties already were in high demand before the storm, signaling further difficulties for new and future arrivals to the area. To get caught up on their rundown, see page 28.
And while hurricanes tend to draw attention to the storms themselves and the devastation of their immediate aftermaths, an event of Ian’s magnitude also creates ripple effects that are less visible but felt for years—consider the rush to find cars and trucks to replace storm-damaged vehicles (see page 82), or the extra pressure on the affordable housing crunch given that many of the residences Ian destroyed were older and therefore cheaper but less likely to be up to modern codes (see the economic commentary on page 26). As John Guerra writes on page 40, the monumental property damage SWFL experienced during Hurricane Ian also adds yet more pressure to the already dangerously unstable state of home insurance. Insurers have taken a financial beating for years from an astronomical number of claims, many of which are exaggerated or outright fraudulent, forcing some companies into insolvency and leaving the survivors less able to provide reasonable prices for coverage. Efforts to bolster the system continue in the state Legislature, but all Florida property owners will be better off with solutions in place as soon as possible.
Of course, “soon” is very much on our minds at the moment, as we at Gulfshore Life Media are supremely excited to present The Naples Press, a new weekly newspaper covering our Collier County community that is set to launch next month—be on the lookout for the premiere issue in January.
With the holiday season upon us and the promise of a fresh calendar awaiting, we’re grateful for our readers and look forward to a spectacular new year with you.