Bidding on the Future: Lee, Collier counties refocus economic development efforts amid changes

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(Credit: Gulfshore Business)

There was no confusing Odilon Almeida’s explanation about the decision last year to move ACI Worldwide’s headquarters out of Collier County to Miami. As head of one of the largest global digital payment firms, Almeida had just hired two key executives for a company always on the lookout for top talent.

“I can tell you that it was much easier to convince them to work in Miami than to be in Naples, and that is going to be very important for us going forward, because we will continue to need talent in this company,” Almeida, ACI’s president and CEO, told analysts last year during a conference call to discuss the company’s future.

ACI’s departure offers insight into economic development struggles facing Southwest Florida, which historically has relied on tourism, construction and hospitality to fuel its economy. Some well-known challenges, including affordable housing and a skilled talent pool, continue to affect the region’s ability to attract and retain business. But new challenges, such as fewer state incentives and the loss of a regional program, have forced the counties to rely on their own economic development efforts.

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