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How Cape Coral's Incentive Program Helped Boost Its Local Economy

cape coral incentive program help boost local economy

Groundbreaking for Cape Coral speedboat business Nor-tech

This case study is part of our Voice of the People Award series. Most VOP winners are selected based on their The National Community Survey (The NCS) results. The NCS measures resident opinions on the quality of life in their city or town. Other winners demonstrate excellence in online engagement. 

At a Glance

  • Cape Coral, Florida, citizens identified the economy as a high priority on The National Community Survey (The NCS), which measures residents’ opinions about their city.

  • The City faces a few challenges when it comes to economic growth. Cape Coral is home to mostly local service-oriented businesses and only a few larger industries. There is limited space designated for business development and business owners are responsible for installing their own utilities for new builds. 

  • A population boom boosted the local economy and Cape Coral implemented incentive programs to encourage new business development. 

  • Economy-related approval ratings increased 10 to 21% on The NCS. The City won a Voice of The People Award for Transformation in the Economy. 

cape coral incentive program local economy


Cape Coral needed a thoughtful way to grow its local economy.

Cape Coral is a scenic city in South Florida with over 400 miles of freshwater canals winding through the community. Most of the businesses are locally-owned, service-oriented establishments. There are currently only two major corporations, Nor-tech (a high-speed boat dealer) and Ecological Labs (a biotech company). 

The City is only 50% built out, so there is plenty of room for new business and more people. But business owners are responsible for installing their own utilities, which can be tricky with the waterways. Plus, most of the land is designated for residential property, which limits the space for business development.

Cape Coral residents said the economy was their most important priority, according to their NCS results. The City needed a way to encourage and diversify new businesses in the area despite the building challenges and boost economic growth. 


A population boom naturally fueled the economy. And a new incentive program aims to diversify Cape Coral’s business offerings. 

Many people moved to Cape Coral over the past five years, which naturally lifted the commercial activity in the area. 

“The City experienced a tremendous explosion of population,” said Cape Coral Economic and Business Development Officer Sharon Woodberry.

cape coral incentive program boost local economyThe NCS results show economic health increased by 14% from 2019 to 2021. In the same time frame, quality of businesses and establishments increased by 21% and economic development increased by 13%. 

Even though the population growth played a major role in The NCS improvements, the City played its part in the positive boosts as well. 

The City launched the Cape Competes incentive and grant program to attract new business to the area. The program offers five different options. Infrastructure grants go to life science, financial, information technology, and other companies that wish to come to the area. They offer a zero-interest, five-year forgivable loans to small businesses. There is a creative grant program for cultural, arts, and music businesses. The City also renders tax incentives for large-scale capital investment and redevelopment projects. And Cape Coral offers a limited property tax exemption to developers. 

The goal is to motivate private companies, stimulate economic growth, add jobs, and diversify business options. While the program is fairly new, the City has already seen some results. 

“Becoming more diverse in terms of commercial activity has been a huge part of [The NCS] increases that we’ve seen,” Woodberry said.

Learn What Residents Think About Your Local Economy

Polco can help you engage with your community to discover what economic priorities matter most to your residents. Know where to focus your budgets and plans with valuable data and resident feedback. Boost commercial activity and make the most impact with informed economic decisions.  Connect with one of our engagement experts to learn more. 

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