Economic news continues to be bleak for Southwest Florida.
The Cape Coral -Fort Myers "metro" was among the hardest-hit areas of the county last year related to the number of families falling below the poverty line, according to an Associated Press report released earlier this week. Specifically, we were one of five areas seeing the greatest gains in poverty, according to the U.S. Census.
Unemployment hit 13.7 percent in August and foreclosures continue to flood the market.
Cape Coral-Fort Myers remains the second worst area in the country for foreclosure rates with RealtyTrac, one of two national companies that track housing trends nationwide, reporting that in July we saw the greatest month-over-month increase in the country with a 21 percent jump.
Yet an anti-business bias continues to taint community conversations in the Cape.
Realtors, developers, builders and those in the related trades are the "special interest" bogeyman under the bed, this faction maintains. Only due diligence and a broom that sweeps clean will keep it there, we are told as taxes climb, more homes become vacant and too many children go to school hungry because food stamps don't feed a family too well by the end of the month.
Rhetoric is easy, reality bites.
And the reality is that the Realtors, the developers and those in the construction trades - those who are left anyway - are the neighbors among us who have seen paychecks plummet or who have lost their jobs, their homes, and who are seeing their families go without.
Reality is that the "special interest" monster that the still-existent anti-growth coalition uses for political target practice was our economic driver.
Perhaps we're a little old fashioned - we never have thought capitalism was a bad thing, we still think profit is the best motivator in the world, and we firmly believe that economic recovery lies within the private sector.
That's why we say it's time to lay down the firebrands and pitchforks and welcome the badly battered business community back into the fold, to the table, and into the discussions on how we can bring jobs back to a community that has not enough by far to go around.
Expertise is a terrible thing to waste.
And continued efforts to demonize the very neighbors on whom our economic recovery depends should be stomped out with a passion in a city where the road to recovery can only be paved with job creation.
We ask city council and the new administration to grab their respective bootstraps and take the first step.
- Breeze Editorial