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City: Cape better off than on-line ranking indicates

July 31, 2014
By JIM LINETTE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

While the city of Cape Coral rebounds from seven years of a nationwide economic recession, online studies keep popping up to rank cities in one or more categories. Most of the recent studies released over the past six to eight months have been positive.

All is not well by any stretch of the imagination, but construction of commercial and residential projects are growing out of the ground. The inventory of existing real estate is selling at an increasing rate.

One less-than-flattering study published online recently never made the news here because while the study claimed to be for Cape Coral, the data was proven to have included Fort Myers and Charlotte County. It was named Cape Coral because it was the largest city in the study area.

Now comes the study results from WalletHub that concludes Cape Coral has the sixth-worst post-recession recovery (No. 144) among the largest 150 U.S. cities. The study's goal was to identify those that have experienced the most and least improvement since the recession, which the website says officially ended five years ago.

Cape Coral ranked No. 9 in entrepreneurial activity, 118th in the number of new businesses growth category. Other categories included increase of college educated workers; public assistance rate decrease; violent crime rate decrease; unemployment decrease; ratio of part-time to full-time jobs decrease; poverty rate decrease; and median home price appreciation.

"How do you equate being No. 9 in entrepreneurial activity but 118th in new business growth?" questioned Dana Brunett, economic development director. "I know what they are trying to do, but it's just flawed. I think they are just trying to drive people to their websites."

Brunett also points out that Cape Coral's poverty rate generally is low, so in how many cities did the poverty rate decrease during those years?

"We are consistently rated low in the crime rate, too," Brunett said. "Same with unemployment. It was probably at it's highest in 2009 or 2010. Property appraisals have gone up the past two years by 6 and 8.6 percent. The data just makes me nervous."

"Using 18 key metrics we examined how each city has evolved economically in the past several years. By doing so, WalletHub can help consumers assess how their present financial situations might be affected by the economic health of their cities," wrote WalletHub's Raz Daraban.

Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral president Mike Quaintance also disagrees with the WalletHub survey results.

"I am very suspicious of it," said Quaintance. "I don't see where their numbers came from. Their data is from 2012 and farther back than that. I see this community grow every day. I see the increase on our properties."

City of Cape Coral spokesperson Connie Barron takes a similar track on the WalletHub results.

"I just found out about it earlier," Barron said. "A lot of the studies they used are a couple of years old, and things may have changed a lot since then. They're also comparing to how things were in 2007, when prices were still artificially high in this area in many cases."

Daraban confirmed, "We have used in our study the latest data available from all sources and compared these values against the ones registered in 2007 to examine how each city has evolved economically in the past several years."

Quaintance concludes, "If it was that bad here why would anyone start a small business here in one of the best places (No. 9 for entrepreneurial activity) to do so? I'm just very skeptical about a lot of these studies."



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