Cape Coral officials will use a military official's visit to the area this week as a chance to showcase the city and its potential for economic development.
Maj. Gen. Robert Kasulke, the commanding general of the Army Reserve Medical Command, will be the keynote speaker for the Reserve Officers of America's annual convention Saturday. In the days leading up to the event, he will visit existing and planned military and medical facilities in the area.
Cape Coral Economic Development Director Dana Brunett said Kasulke will meet with city leaders Thursday morning before taking an air tour and a boat tour of the Cape. He will stop by the new Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic and the future site of the Army Reserve Center on Corbett Road.
"He's not from this area, and we want to show him what we've got here and what potential it here," Brunett said, adding that it's exposure for the city.
"It's good to get that exposure," he said. "Every little bit helps."
With the new clinic, and other anticipated projects in what is called the Veterans Investment Zone, or VIZ, Brunett explained that showing military officials like Kasulke around opens the door to any possible future plans.
Last year, Cape officials hosted Maj. Gen. Keith L. Thurgood, then U.S. Army Reserve deputy chief and the keynote speaker for the same convention.
"You really never know what can come back and help you," Brunett said. "You have to reach out, stay positive and let people know what you have to offer."
On Friday, Kasulke will attend the Horizon Council meeting, then tour the current Fort Myers VA outpatient clinic, which will eventually shut its doors in favor of the new Cape facility. He will also visit Lee Memorial Hospital.
The VIZ is intended to serve as a corridor of economic development.
"The Cape only has about 8 percent commercial revenue," he said. "We want to do whatever we can to create zones of opportunity for development."
Brunett explained that development positively impacts revenue and jobs.
"It's the ongoing multiplies effect of economic impact," he said.
The clinic, which is expected to completed by summer, will employ a staff of nearly 300 and provide services to more than 700 patients on a daily basis.
Patriot Plaza, at the corner of Corbett Road and Pine Island Road, will serve as mixed-use with retail and possible office space, and maybe a hotel. A gas station and convenience store, fast food eatery or full-service restaurant, and "service type businesses" were also being considered.
North American Properties has more than 100 acres surrounding the clinic that have been proposed as a HealthPark-style campus with medical, office, hotel and apartment components.
"That's a key area for us and our commercial development," Brunett said of the VIZ. "It's one of the largest concentrated areas of commercial land."
"It's essential that we get some other key elements in there," he added. "Development begets development."