Southwest Region


South West Florida RegionPopulation:
    1,119,975
Labor Force:    501,691
Households:    476,389

Airports:
• Charlotte County
• Southwest Florida International
• Naples Municipal

Dominant Cities:
• Ft. Myers
• Naples
• Port Charlotte
• Punta Gorda

College Highlights:
• Florida Gulf Coast University
• Edison State College
• Ave Maria University

Cultural Features:
• Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall (Ft. Myers)
• Philharmonic Center for the Arts (Naples)
• Naples Museum of Art
• Edison & Ford Winter Estates  (Ft. Myers)
• Southwest Florida Museum of History (Ft. Myers)
• Naples National Archaeological Museum

 

In many ways the Southwest region retains the traditional attractions that large-scale growth has changed in the Southeast region.  Here the likes of Fort Myers, Naples and Punta Gorda deliver surroundings reminiscent of Ft. Lauderdale and Delray Beach on the other side of the peninsula before the Southeast Region’s explosive growth of the 1970s was underway.

The region’s largest population concentration is found hugging the coast from Fort Myers south to Naples. During winter an influx of seasonal residents and tourists significantly swell the area’s population.  This annual pilgrimage reflects the region’s economic mainstay of tourism as visitors gravitate to area beaches together with fishing and boating in the shimmering waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Supporting this dependency on tourism is a large collection of hotels, golf courses and picturesque white sand beaches throughout the region.

Fort Myers, a historic enclave that once served as the winter residence for Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, with nearby North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral form the core of the region.

Just off the coast of Fort Myers Beach you’ll find the barrier island with the towns of Sanibal and Captiva.  This island resort area offers tourists and residents a more isolated tropical island ambiance known among collectors for its shell-laden beaches. The island is also home of the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

About 30 miles south of this hub along I-75 is Naples.  Revered as one of the richest communities in the state, the locale offers a world of posh country clubs, boutiques and fine restaurants servicing affluent residents and visitors alike.  A favorite feature of the city is the grouping of chic shops and trendy restaurants that line “downtown” Fifth Avenue.

Directly off the mainland to the west of Naples you’ll find Marco Island with its beachfront resorts and grid of canal-front residences. While just north along the coast is Bonita Springs serving as the go-between stop to Ft. Myers.

At the northern extreme about halfway between Fort Myers and Sarasota are the towns of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. The area is popular among residents who delight in boating and fishing.

In addition to its water sports and country club recreation, the region caters to sport fans by hosting MLB Spring Training Camps for the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. You’ll also find college sports at Florida Gulf Coast University.

As the housing market continues to resurge, the Southwest Region will continue to grow as a popular choice among retirees and seasonal residents, including Europeans, craving a more subtropical Florida experience.

Sources: US Census Bureau; Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation; Enterprise Florida Inc.