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Hertz move should boost housing market, local economy

By LAURA LAYDEN | Originally published 02:00 p.m., May 7, 2013 Updated 08:02 p.m., May 7, 2013

cars 123339740ESTERO — Hertz’s move to Estero will bring more house hunters to Southwest Florida.

With the relocation of its worldwide headquarters from Park Ridge, N.J., the rental car giant, Hertz Global Holdings Inc., plans to move at least 700 jobs here. That means hundreds of potential buyers for a housing market recovering from a boom-gone-bust.

“Southwest Florida offers water, warmth and a way of life and we are open to business — and it’s an economic shot in the arm for the housing market, and for the psyche of our area.”

The Hertz relocation is expected to give Lee County a $190 million economic boost each year after it’s completed in 2017, a Florida Gulf Coast University study shows.

“The overall impact is much bigger than the 700 jobs,” said study author Gary Jackson, director of the Regional Economic Research Institute at FGCU’s Lutgert School of Business.

The local economy will get a bump from companies doing business with Hertz and from Hertz’s employees spending money at restaurants, retail shops, grocery stores and other service businesses, from hair dressers to dry cleaners.

The study projects the Hertz relocation will spin-off another 1,000 jobs in Lee County alone, said Christine Ross, executive director of the Bonita Springs Estero Economic Development Council. “It’s dramatic and it will be across the board,” she said.

Jim Wall, communications director for Southwest Florida Works, which connects employers with job-seekers, points out that Hertz’s jobs will be year-round, unlike many of the area’s other service jobs that are seasonal.

“That’s a big, big step toward the economic stability of Southwest Florida,” he said.

Public coffers also will benefit, with the construction of Hertz’s new headquarters generating $2.3 million in state and local sales taxes and increasing property tax revenues by $4.6 million, the FGCU study shows.

Lee County asked for the study, without revealing Hertz’s identity, as it considered whether to provide more than $4 million in incentives to the then-mystery company to move its corporate headquarters and up to 700 jobs by 2016.

Hertz employees, like any other buyers or renters, will look at various factors in deciding where to live, including schools, recreation and amenities, said Mike Timmerman, a senior associate for economic consultants Hank Fishkind & Associates Inc. in Naples. He expects old and new communities within 10 miles of the headquarters to benefit most.

The corporate employees moving here will earn an average of $117,000 a year, including benefits, so they’re people who can afford to buy homes — and more expensive ones, said Phil Wood, president and CEO of John R. Wood Realtors Inc.

“That’s huge,” he said. “And that’s really good news.”

He expects to see the employees buy in Naples, Fort Myers, Bonita and Estero.

“It will have an excellent, positive impact on the overall market,” he said. “This will be a significant number of permanent buyers.”

__ Staff writers Eric Staats and Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster contributed to this story.

Published inMarket Conditions
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