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August 2019, The Economic Development Issue

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The Editor | A Letter from Liz Green

Dear Readers:

When I first moved to Punta Gorda in 2007, I was amazed by how quiet it was. I moved here from Orlando, clearly a far cry from Charlotte County, and knew what I was getting into. Mostly. I thought. I welcomed the change because 10 years in Orlando had been enough. I was ready for a more peaceful existence. Well, I got what I asked for and then some. While the change of pace was nice at first, I honestly wanted a little less quiet.

But, it seemed, there was a lot on the horizon. After all, Charlotte County was still in the midst of the post-Charley development boom. Luxurious condos were going up left and right. The Sunloft Center, Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center and Laishley Crabhouse Centre (known then only as the Marina Park development) were in various stages of design and construction. And I heard lots of talk about all these big plans for this little lot called the City Marketplace. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Maybe once or twice…or a few more times. I heard about Murdock Village to the north. And The Loop to the south. Babcock Ranch to the east.

And then the bubble burst.

Things got very bad here for awhile – as they did across the country. But Charlotte County persevered. Which brings us to today. And this issue – the Economic Development issue.

The past few years have been very exciting for Charlotte County and our neighboring communities. Things are no longer as quiet as they used to be. Even the once-sleepy West Dearborn Street in Englewood has become a destination location – not just during season! And Babcock Ranch is no longer just a dream. It’s a reality.

In 2017, Allegiant Airlines announced it was opening its first resort right here on Charlotte Harbor. Earlier this year, they officially broke ground on Sunseeker Resorts. Love it or hate it – I happen to be in the love it category – you can’t deny that this is huge for our community.

Also in 2017, the Atlanta Braves and Sarasota County officials broke ground on the team’s new Spring Training facility in the West Villages, which is probably the fastest growing community in our region. In March of this year, the Braves hosted their first Spring Training game at CoolToday Park, and now we have two hometown MLB teams to root for (please don’t leave us, Rays!)

And as Rusty Pray notes in his story on Punta Gorda on page 64, 2017 was also when many residents began throwing up their arms in frustration over the future of their city, leading officials to begin the Master Plan process back in January. We won’t see final plans until this fall, but the preliminary draft, at least, has me excited. If nothing else, it gives me hope that I might one day actually see something happen at City Marketplace. And when it does, you better believe I will be there to witness the groundbreaking.

I hope you enjoy the issue and learning more about all the exciting things going on here as we look towards tomorrow.

Sincerely,


Liz Green

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