Each week through the primary, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. Week five question: Economic development is a common platform plank. What plan, if any, would you bring forward to foster this initiative?
Peter Brandt (I)
My plan is to follow and promote the existing plan! I refer to the DCD/EDO three point plan presented in late 2010. It articulates Cape Coral's identity and its business strengths and weaknesses. It further outlines 13 steps to enhance our ability to attract businesses. It identifies and prioritizes business types that we should pursue and presents projects such as our Customer Advocate and Customized Incentives programs with timelines extending into FY 13. Veteran's Investment Zone (VIZ) and Patriot Plaza are examples of what it can promote. It's a plan that I believe will be adopted with little, if any change by the new EDO Director who will be aboard in September. Another way to gain enlightenment about the activities and accomplishments of EDO is to check their website; click "business" on the city's site.
John Carioscia Sr.
It has been 3 long years since the EDO has had a full time Director and it is arguably the second most important job in City Government. First, I would appoint a full time Economic Development Director. A successful EDO addresses two large concerns, jobs and the need for residential property tax relief. I would establish an advisory board similar to the Financial Advisory Committee to assist the EDO such as doing a study to see the benefits of a moratorium on impact fees for light industrial venues. Targeted venues: Medical Sciences labs, research and the manufacturing of medical devices. "Green" industry venues such as solar manufacturers & algae based fuel research, Financial and Insurance Services. Incentives: Property tax waivers and cheaply leased land for starters.
In order to bolster economic development we need to be recruiting business both nationally and internationally in the areas of technology, medical, and light manufacturing. These efforts need to be in conjunction with keeping existing business doors open in the Cape. Cut through bureaucracy by streamlining the permitting and licensing process, lower impact fees along with customized incentives tailored to fit specific business needs. A three-pronged approach to economic development needs to involve citizens of this community, elected officials, and business leaders. Promoting a positive image of Cape Coral will expand our tax base by bringing more jobs and business here relieving some of the tax burden from the citizens.
Daniel Sheppard III
The oldest baby boomers will turn 65 this year. Around 10,000 will meet this milestone daily for the next nineteen years. Holding 65 percent of the aggregate net worth of all U.S. households, this market is the grand prize. We must retool our brand and reshape our amenities to accommodate this segment of the population. Public Private Partnerships can achieve results with minimal cost to the city as we have seen recently with beautification initiatives. Fostering an environment that appeals to boomers with their disposable income will broaden our tax base and increase demand for goods and services.
William Deile (I)
A program, the Pyramid Plan, has been in place since late December 2010, and is being continually improved. It identifies our weaknesses, strengths, economic identity; it targets industries with above average salaries in finance, life sciences, information technology, etc. and lays out a 36-month timeline. Status reports are issued monthly. Some of its components are: Patriot Plaza, the Veteran's Investment Zone, the Foreign Trade Zone, a Customer Advocacy Program, and a Customized Incentive Program. The program has been well received by the business community. By the end of the month we will have a full-time professional Economic Development Director, and he will no doubt continue to enhance the plan.
Leonard Nesta Jr.
The Economic Development Office needs to work with the community to foster economic vitality, quality of life and the environment. I am in agreement with the EDO that we need to tap into the International trade resources. The City has two Foreign Trade Zones. One in the North Cape Industrial Park and the other in the Med-Cape Industrial Park. We need to bring this International Trade Resources into our City. I believe we need to stay competitive with our Cash Incentive Program, Impact fee Deferral Program and the Road Impact Fee Waiver Program. We need to have a strong full time Economic Development Director with a vision for the future.
My understanding is that the EDO has been rather inactive for quite some time. First, I would reactivate this group, to have their valuable input ,in brainstorming ideas and plans for revitalizing our economy. I would also invite the expertise of successful members of our local business and financial community to participate. Most likely there is all overlap between all of these people. In addition to their innovative ideas ,toward supercharging our economy, such groups can recommend a recruiting process to obtain talented personnel who have proven track records in the areas of planning and economic revitalization. The City of Cape Coral has to be more proactive rather than reactive on stimulating the economy. Balancing the budget is not enough; greater sources and volume of revenue should be major goals!
I believe, the success of this community depends on jobs. If we have jobs, the people will come, the businesses will prosper. We need to bring more economic development to the city, and at the same time, we must be very sensitive, and not cause economic stress to the residents. I am aware that we have people in Cape Coral, who have been unemployed for years, and we must do everything we can to help get them back on their feet. This will take a considerable effort, but I am up to the job. I love Cape Coral, and I will do everything possible, to make this, the best community in the country.
The City needs to increase its economic base. I would like to entice businesses and their employees to make The Cape their home. I will work to eliminate impact fees to reduce the cost of relocating to this area. I will also work to promote a university center that will employ many people, increase the quality of workers in the area and foster research. The development of alternative energy sources is also an avenue that would make us a desirable city for different industries than we have previously pursued.
We have a ready workforce, wonderful weather, affordable housing/land costs and a safe community with many amenities - all things that are attractive to businesses. Hiring a full-time Director for the Economic Development Office is critical. The successful applicant needs to have the proven experience to map out and implement a sound economic growth plan for the City that builds on our current strategic plan. The Council will rely heavily on the EDO Director for advice on marketing our city, zoning and what investments the City must make in infrastructure, improvements or incentives to be a strong competitor for businesses to locate or expand here.
It is time we have a council that stands with the business community and not against it. My first acts will be to start networking right away with this community. Meeting with the owners and discussing issues that affect them and converse how we can move forward in the future. Council should also be ambassadors when it comes to the city and they should be working with the Economic Development Department to aggressively seek out new business to Cape Coral.
Specifically for District 5, a plan was brought forth to council to set up another Community Redevelopment District near Viscaya Parkway and Del Prado Boulevard and failed to move forward. I would like to revisit the plan and move forward with the same vision in mind.
I want to combine the efforts, talents and contacts of the Board of Realtors, the CCCIA and the Economic Development Department to promote our biggest assets, sunshine, warm temperatures, canals, quality of life and inexpensive housing. By marketing this to the world, people will research and then move to Cape Coral. If we can add people, we will decrease unemployment, which will allow a broader range of people to move here which will reduce the excess capacity in residential and commercial properties. As the population approaches 200,000 it will ignite the construction industry which will invigorate the economy even more.
Wm. "Scott" Morris
Make sure the Economic Development Office, (EDO) has the necessary resources to effectively market our city. One of the most important resources is to hire a qualified director of the office. I intend to pursue the creation of a volunteer advisory board of experienced and successful business people within our community, to meet on a regular basis with representatives of the EDO. The purpose of this board would be to brainstorm new and innovative ideas, to encourage businesses to locate to Cape Coral. We should also examine if the EDO should be a separate department of the city.
Economic development is struggling across the country. How do you bring families and businesses to Cape Coral? The best form of advertising is word of mouth. The City needs to take care of the current residents and businesses. We need to make Cape Coral a pleasant and comfortable place to live and work. Most Cape Coral residents are from somewhere other than Cape Coral. By making Cape Coral a comfortable place to live and work, citizens of Cape Coral will tell their family and friends, word will get out. Families and businesses will come to Cape Coral.
Derrick Donnell (I)
The role of a councilmember with respect to economic development is accomplished by three inherent tenets: A councilmember is an ambassador of the city and should present him/herself in a manner that is professional, courteous and inviting to anyone who is thinking about opening a business in our city; a councilmember must continue to vote for legislation that will ensure that the infrastructure (utilities) are available; and a councilmember must commit to both working with the city manager and supporting city staff in efforts to minimize obstacles that could potentially discourage a new business from opening in our beautiful city.
I would like to build upon what the EDO has already started. The city utilizes cash incentives, impact deferral program, facade grants for downtown cape, and rental assistance. These things are good for commercial development. Other things the city can do that I would like to add is re-examine our licensing requirements and procedures. Just this week, I was able to pin point an error in one of the scopes of a specialty contractor's license that may have hindered several new businesses opening up in the Cape for the past several years.
I would partner with Lee County Economic Development Office to work together to bring large employers with higher paying jobs to Cape Coral. Improve the image of Cape Coral by positively interacting with business leaders and other council members to foster an excellent business climate. I would lower impact fees and offer incentives to businesses to relocate here. For example, attracting a major employer or hotel/convention center to the city owned Academic Village Property. Advertise Cape Coral on a national level to bring in more tourism and potential businesses.
I would like to implement a short-term moratorium on construction impact fees. If we eliminated impact fees for a short, predetermined amount of time, we could attract new businesses with a sense of urgency to take advantage of the cost savings. I would also encourage research in finding additional revenue opportunities for the city. Additionally, I would hire a director for the Economic Development Office with the requirement of participation with Lee County and regional economic development programs to foster a sense of unity and cooperation.