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The mom-and-pop shops along the Gulf coast are essential to Southwest Florida’s economy—maybe more so than we thought. 

Small businesses account for about 24% of total employment in Southwest Florida, according to a new report from Florida Gulf Coast University’s Regional Economic Research Institute. For the sake of the report, small businesses were defined as companies with fewer than 20 employees. 

Employment in small business has ranged between 25.7% and 23.4% in the 2010s. Statewide, that number stood steady around 19%. 

The real estate and professional/tech services industries, in particular, consist largely of small businesses. For both, more than 40% of employment comes from businesses with fewer than 20 employees. 

Employment by industry (Percent of total employment from small businesses)

Other service industries* 56.1

Real estate and rentals/leasing 42.8

Professional, scientific and technical services 41.2

Construction 33.4

Mining, quarrying and oil/gas exploration 30.8

Finance and insurance 27

Administrative/support and waste management 26.5

Transportation and warehousing 25.1

Wholesale trade 22.7

Manufacturing 21.5

Educational services 19.7

Health care and social assistance 18.4

Retail trade 16.1

Utilities 15.8

Information 15.5

Accommodation and food service 14.9

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting 11.8

Arts, entertainment and recreation 10.9

Management of companies and enterprises 9.9

*Other service industries are defined as auto repair, homegoods repair, personal care services and others. 

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