Southwest Florida’s economy ‘still doing well,’ says FGCU economics professor

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The Southwest Florida economy appears to be quite healthy, 18 months after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, said Amir Neto, director of the regional economic research institute and an assistant professor of economics at FGCU.  Neto, the guest speaker Tuesday at the monthly Real Estate Investment Investment Society of Southwest Florida (REIS) shared robust economic indicators with the club. REIS, in its 40th year of existence, limits itself to 250 members and has 15 membership openings to those who are interested and involved in regional real estate trends. Information on the club can be found at

“We’re still doing well,” Neto said. “We’re doing better than expectations.”  

  • Air traffic into Southwest Florida International Airport rose 51% from July 2019 to July 2021.
  • Tourist tax revenues rose 69% from June 2019 to June 2021.
  • Taxable sales rose 36% from June 2019 to June 2021.
  • Single-family home permits increased by 64% from July 2019 to July 2021.
  • Single-family home sales also rose, by 28%, from July 2019 to July 2021, and prices of those homes rose between 38% and 56% during the same span. 
  • Unemployment rose just 1.3 points from July 2019 to July 2021.  

“We saw big-ticket items being purchased,” Neto said. “People are spending money again.  

“We need to continue to incentivize vaccinations for sustainable recovery.”  

The vaccination rates in the region were the biggest red flag to the economy Neto could find.  Only 55.8% of eligible females in the region and 48.8% of eligible males chose to protect themselves and those who interact with them by getting vaccinated, Neto said. The private sector needed to continue encouraging its employees to get the vaccine to avoid future economic issues related to the virus, Neto said.  Velocity Engineering sponsored the REIS meeting at the Osprey Club at Pelican Bay, near Colonial Boulevard and Treeline Avenue. Velocity president Christopher Pacitto used the opportunity to feature his eight-year-old company, based in Gateway.  Velocity recently did some of the site preparation, including the geotechnical engineering, for Topgolf, which is slated to open off Colonial and Interstate 75 in December. 


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