Posted by: Wendy Harpp | November 14, 2012


The word of the night was opportunity.

On Tuesday leaders from across the Cape Coral shaded their eyes, figuratively speaking, in light of the brightness that they see coming in the near future. That was the motto at “Catch the Vision: A 2013 Real Estate Look Forward” to rally the masses.

Sunglasses were given to the hundreds in the crowd and a photo taken with everyone sporting the complimentary “Men in Black”-style lenses at Cape Coral First Baptist Church. PowerPoint presentations showed the slight upticks in the economy that signaled improvements within the commercial and residential real estate sectors.

A trade show featured more than 20 recession survivors and new small business owners.

Patty Holmes, owner of Tuffy Auto Service Centers, said it’s been tough, but her business has made a point to adapt and change with the times. In business for 16 years, it spent the last five trying to rebuild the customer base after people left the area.

“We’ve really used the Internet more than ever,” Holmes said. “We’ve gotten ourselves known and used search engines and have had more than one customer come in because they read our positive online reviews.”

The city is retooling its image with billboards calling in curious tourists and potential investors to take a look at what Cape Coral has to offer. Dana Brunett, the city’s economic development director, spoke of efforts to create quality jobs and destination-oriented projects that will draw people.

Wal-Mart and various other large corporations are just a few of the businesses looking into the city. He said he wants to make sure the city takes advantage of promoting itself as a waterfront community.

Michele Schafer, a Broker Associate at Miloff Aubuchon Realty Group, noted that there are 328 new building permits in the city for single-family homes and consistent improvement in the local housing market. The highest count for permits in the past 12 years was in 2005 at 7,894. The lowest count was in 2009 at 159 pulled permits.

“The evidence is clear and verdict is in, Cape Coral is back,” Schafer said.

The crowd was given a visual walk-through new development by Anthony Greco, Cape Coral Construction Industry Association president who snapped aerial pictures of numerous projects sprouting around the city.

During the boom, he said, the construction industry was making bread and raking in the dough. Then the bottom fell out and they were picking up crumbs during the recession. Now, Greco said, they’re finding slices and making loaves.

“We love to see foundations because that’s what keeps the construction industry going,” Greco said pointing at one of the pictures.

It’s comes down to basic economics, said Bobby Mahan, a local Realtor. The average house cost has gone up by 14.3 percent, he said.

According to Mahan’s statistics, there has been a 55 percent decrease in the number of actively available homes for purchase. New local business representatives such as the upscale motor coach resort, The Resort at Burnt Store Lake and a local distillery called Wicked Dolphin Rum also presented.

Buddy Smith, who began his garage door sales and service business On Track Doors over the summer, said it was an ideal night for a new business owner.

“I’ve had some great contacts with this,” Smith said.

written by Cristela Guerra

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