To the editor:
Recently, I sat down with a local business owner and we discussed how revitalizing existing business areas can bring further economic growth to Lee County.
We can make our existing business districts/communities safe, walkable, bikeable with shady trees, flowers, native plants, and appeal to tourists and residents. By doing this we can attract more business and improve what we've already invested in. Parking should be easy so residents can spend their money in our local stores and restaurants without worry. Streets need to be easily navigated. We want business and traffic to flow easily. Complete streets can be the goal. Gaps in sidewalks need to be closed. Seniors waiting for the bus or trolley should have shade and a bench to sit on. Who wouldn't want to spend more time in an area with those features!
Areas like San Antonio, Texas, have already invested in their downtown areas with exciting projects attracting people from all over the world. Cape Coral's new mayor, Marni Sawicki, has an exciting vision for existing business districts in Cape Coral.
Some North Fort Myers business owners have complained to the press recently that over the years their business district just over the Fort Myers Bridge/Hancock Bridge Parkway has been largely ignored when it comes to getting attention or a makeover. This is the gateway to our county and the first area tourists often see. We need to make sure that as a county we are working with local city leaders and small business owners to keep these areas looking great for tourists and residents for businesses who have been there for years.
Instead of pushing growth out in rural spaces, we can focus our efforts on areas like 41. Beautification shouldn't end at the county line. Mixed use is highly desirable and areas that have already invested in such planning are reaping the benefits.
We should focus on existing business districts and support the small business owners who helped build our community for years.
candidate for Lee County Commission
and 40 year resident