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Heidi Rambo Centrella

While many of us were ardently looking forward to ushering in 2021 after the year that shall remain nameless (or possibly numberless), many, too, were disappointed to experience more of the same in terms of pandemic-related strife. Nonetheless, though they struggled to find workers, businesses did begin to reopen and rebound. Most people were given the green light to receive the coronavirus vaccine, however the Delta variant presented another spike in COVID-19 and health care systems were strained yet again. The local housing market saw unprecedented demand with so many more people moving to the area and paying a premium—mostly cash sales well above market value—to reside in paradise. Indeed, 2021 presented its own round of challenges in the wake of 2020.

Tim Aten and David Dorsey take readers down recent memory lane in our cover story “A Year in Review: Southwest Florida chronicles growth in 2021” (page 30). As you’ll find, the region did experience steady growth across all business sectors, from population growth—with the combined populations of Lee and Collier counties surpassing one million residents—to residential growth, record-setting air traffic into Southwest Florida International Airport, new corporate headquarters planned or underway, many local properties changing hands in million-dollar deals and tourism being on pace for a record-setting year.

One area that’s seeing significant growth is on and around Corkscrew Road, which not only has a road-widening project underway but also at least five new residential developments east of Interstate 75. And as the saying goes, retail follows rooftops. New commercial projects are being built on either side of I-75, with a new Publix supermarket anchoring The Shoppes at Verdana Village, east of the interstate, and Estero Crossings mixed-use development west of the interstate.  Learn more about construction and development surrounding Corkscrew Road beginning on page 44.

While celebrating new development, it’s also important to remember those who have gone before and are still here representing the local business community. We’re recognizing five longstanding family-owned-and-operated companies that have found success blending business with family—some entering the third or fourth generations of leadership (page 56).

Aside from all the growth, and change that comes along with it, ’tis the season for celebration and merriment. From all of us at Gulfshore Business to all of you and yours, we wish you a happy holiday season filled with peace and joy. See you in ’22!

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