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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 6 years ago

Survey: Executives say what they really think

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In a recent quarterly Executive Business Climate Survey conducted by Florida Gulf Coast University, Lee County executives were asked for their insights on the area's business climate.

In a recent quarterly Executive Business Climate Survey conducted by Florida Gulf Coast University, Lee County executives were asked for their insights on the area's business climate.
The survey covered topics from the health care law to the executives' hiring and investment projections for the coming year.
It also prompted respondents to provide comments, suggestions or recommendations regarding the regional economy or their business. Below are their responses.

To read a recent article in the Business Review about the survey click here.

1. The real estate industry is improving in our area. Less than 20% of the sales are short sales or foreclosures. Our inventory is at an all-time low, which shows price increases for sellers and more opportunity for local builders.

2. The banks continue to not fund investor loans. No substantial activity increase will occur until investors who want leverage can get back into the fray. Pricing will increase with competition; the banks own a tremendous amount of properties and could help their position by funding leveraged investment properties.

3. Think a lot of questions (regarding) future economic improvement depend on the fall presidential election.

4. Get county government to be fiscally responsible like private business had to do to survive. What gives our BOCC the right to employ unnecessary staff just to maintain unsustainable positions at our expense, spending reserves which we cannot replace in a down economy? What business can survive by spending more than it takes in? Balance the budget, plain and simple.

5. Reduce government involvement in the regulating and micro-management of private business enterprise.

6. Working in three other states has rapidly made me understand this area is so behind when it comes to creating a good environment for business growth. We need a total education plan along with an environment that promotes innovation and business growth. Not more land deals.

7. It appears that moderate growth in the private sector activity will offset moderate contraction in public spending in SW Florida. Private investment in other markets (SE Florida, Central Florida) appears to be more aggressive than in SW Florida.

8. There needs to be fewer regulations from government permitting agencies as well as less regulation on the banking institutions.

9. “XXX” serves a decent burger, but their service is terrible. Sloppy employees, who don't seem to care, take way too much time taking orders, and the place stinks. Their food is good; it's the service that is holding them back. Ahh. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

10. NO GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION! This clouds the waters and makes it hard to make business decisions. Allow free market to work out the issues, it will happen. Cautiously go forward but be prepared for slow, unpredictable growth for the next three to five years.

11. The Affordable Health Care Plan, aka “Obamacare,” must be defeated. By not establishing state-sponsored exchanges, the plan should not have an opportunity to be enacted in Florida. Given the Supreme Court's favorable decision regarding the constitutionality of “Obamacare,” and the anticipated devastating impact on commercial health insurance plans, the quality of care, the national debt, the impact on jobs and new hiring in the private sector, and the inequitable exemptions given to select companies to opt out, this is not only bad policy, but it has little redeeming social value. Economic development organizations need to make business opinions known with one voice throughout Florida. The federal government has done more to discourage job creation than to establish a business environment that encourages entrepreneurs and existing businesses to invest in buildings, equipment and new hires. Dodd Frank alone has caused the layoff of several hundreds of thousands of higher-paying jobs.

12. Regulatory agencies lack any understanding of the impact of financing and market forces on the overall economy of SW Florida. Lee County has become a hostile environment for all development, with elected officials and staff lacking any commitment for maintaining employment or investment incentives.

13. Government spending on construction projects is down from prior years while private construction is not picking up in a significant way. Many are waiting to see the results of the election before committing to spend.

14. Only pockets of improvement. Overall economy is still struggling.

15. This survey needs to include Collier and Charlotte counties as we are a regional economy.

16. A healthy economy is based on a mix of industries performing well in an environment where the government does the minimal possible to intrude. Under these conditions, all who want to can prosper to their own interest and capability. At that point, those who are truly incapable of providing for themselves can be easily supported by those who are capable.

17. Anticipating minor recession in mid-2013.

18. Seeing small glimmers of hope. Will hire if we start to grow again. We have had no organic growth since 2007.

19. My own experience with the reaction of insurance companies when Hillary Clinton tried to reform health care in '91. For a couple years I actually got comparable quotes from multiple insurance companies that didn't require an actuarial degree to find the “best deal,” in what appeared to be the insurance companies' correcting some errors to avoid mandated regulatory changes. Maybe that will happen again. I can only believe greater transparency will allow a more informed customer to make a decision that's best for himself and his employees. Not ONLY the insurance company.

20. Regarding our three local ballparks — I would like to see some effort into attracting other minor league teams to occupy the other two stadiums during the summer. And, locating a minor league team here should be a bargaining chip when negotiating with a major league team for spring training and making huge investments into a park for them. Keeping the parks busy in the summer would generate more overall return for the community and help to grow the general baseball interest. We are already paying for the facilities.

21. We believe there is still too much supply and not enough demand for land development professional services here in SW Florida and would not be surprised to see more firms close their doors if economic conditions do not improve. Based on all the reports we are reading and others we are talking to, no one sees any improvement happening for at least five years.

22. Our business is growing at a 30% over last year's rate. Our customers are 99.9% out of Lee County and perhaps only 10% to 15% are in Florida.

23. Our economy will not improve until banks begin lending money.

24. I do not plan to hire any employees due to this new law. The regulations imposed by this law have convinced me that I can only grow my business by bringing on contract labor. In my business, I work with or lease to over 300 small businesses in Lee County. Without fail, all of the small business owners I have spoken with are extremely concerned about the new health care law. I have not heard from any business owner who supports this law and most of them will vote for whomever will work to appeal it. This is nothing more than a tax on small businesses and in my opinion; it will deter businesses owners from hiring additional employees. I have been told by three of my larger tenants (who have over 50 employees each) that they will either be forced to reduce their full-time employees to part time or lay off employees to compensate for the additional cost this new law will impose. This is a terrible law for small businesses and for the country.

25. Lee County needs to adopt the Horizon Council recommendations to help streamline the development process. This is just the first step in trying to correct our reputation and being unfriendly to business.

27. The economy rebound will be slow and dependent of the next election in order to establish direction for the future and hope for so many of our customers who are unsure about the future economy and do not dare make a decision until they have restored confidence in leadership.

28. The region still seems to be struggling to bring more jobs to the area. More needs to be done to expand employment and not just high income producing jobs.

29. Continue to leverage markets with common interests to Lee County like Minnesota (Twins) and Boston (Red Sox). More joint events should be explored to maximize the tourism aspect as well as seasonal residents.

30. Try and reduce government spending, we have less to work with to pay our bill with and taxes are a big part that has to be paid rather you have the money or not.

31. The private sector has slowed down from the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. Public sector is still reacting to reduced revenues from depressed tax base.

To read the full surveyclick here.

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