A Southwest Florida city is on a mission to get people to open up their businesses in the area. Cape Coral wants to keep things local and get those who live in the city to also work there.
The initiative hopes to keep people in the area and help Southwest Florida’s biggest growing city keep booming.
Tens of thousands of people make the trip from Cape Coral over the bridge to Fort Myers to go to work.
“Too many people have to go over the bridge to Fort Myers. So it’s easier to just be here. There’s enough space here,” said Kathy Murdaugh of Cape Coral.
There is enough space and now a possible solution. The city has proposed an ad valorem property tax exemption that aims to give new or expanding businesses limited tax exemptions.
Cape Coral’s leaders believe this one move will continue the city’s growth, create business enterprises, and bring new jobs.
The proposal is something Bob Witbeck, who’s been in the Cape for almost a decade, supports.
“Cape Coral has always been, I don’t know, a bedroom community if you want to call it or whatever. There’s never been a whole lot of business here,” said Bob Witbeck.
Other people in Cape Coral are not excited about the idea. Art Mulford spends a few months in the cape each year. He’s drawn there because it’s a relaxed place to live. Now. he is worried more development could change that.
“I kinda like Cape Coral the way it is now, and I don’t want to see too much development, but then it’s sort of like, I’m here let’s pull up the ladder attitude. But I realize things have to be done,” said Mulford.
One thing everyone can support is more jobs.
“We’re open here. We need it down here,” said Murdaugh.
Some of the eligible businesses mentioned in the city’s presentation include corporate offices, technology, and manufacturing.
Cape City Council moved to let the voters decide if this is something they want to see. It will be one of the items on the ballot in November.
Whether you’re in the city for a few months or year-round, everyone has their reason as to why they wanted to be in Cape Coral
“We love Cape Coral,” said Murdaugh.
“Everybody who comes down to visit they’re just so impressed,” Mulford said.
Now the city is trying to impress businesses too with proposed limited tax exemptions for those looking to invest in the city and bring new jobs so people don’t have to commute to Fort Myers for work.
“I don’t think anybody wants to go to Fort Myers anymore. It’s hard getting over the bridges,” said Murdaugh.
People like Art Mulford are all for more jobs, even if that means a change to his hometown.
“We thought it was an older community and most people were retired when we first got here. But we see it’s getting younger you know people have to work,” said Mulford.
If the city’s plan is approved, businesses can apply for up to ten years of exemptions, according to the city’s presentation. The duration will be based on the number of jobs, the amount of capital investment.
“I think it’s still a good idea. Bring more business in. Maybe a little less high rises and a little more business,” said Witbeck.
“It brings a lot of different people here. We have a variety of people here. So that just brings a little more diversity,” said Murdaugh.
If the voters approve the plans, the city says businesses who are new or expanding would be eligible for the exemptions. The tax exemption is an incentive tool available to cities through Florida’s constitution.