The Marco Island Area Association of Realtors organized and held their First Annual Economic Summit at Rose Auditorium at the Marco Island Historical Society.
Laurie Kasperbauer of the MIAAOR Development Committee introduced the panel of four presenters, who shared their views and expertise with the audience. Panel member Dr. Christopher Westley is the Director of Regional Economic Research Institute and Professor of Economics, FGCU. Next up was Jack Wert, the Executive Director of Collier County’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. Cindy Carroll, SRA, Carroll & Carroll Real Estate Appraisers andConsultants was also a part of the panel. Cindy is a full-time appraiser with the company and is VP and manager of the residential division. Rick Medwedeff, General Manager of the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and Spa, was the final presenter of the panel. Rick is a 33-year veteran of the hospitality industry, 18 of which were here on Marco.
According to Dr. Westley, the employment rate in Collier County is almost back to 2007 levels, with 140,080 in the labor force. Dr. Westley predicts the housing and financial markets are continuingto improve. Low oil prices and interest rates benefit our region, but how long will it last?
Jack Wert claims tourism through September 2015 is up 3.7%, while the economic impact of these tourists is at $363,018,936, up 8.9%. Jack noted a need to reevaluate traditional approaches to economic development and diversification in the area to draw high wage, high tech industries here.
Cindy Carroll went over supply and demand considering home values, available inventory in specified price ranges, and the number of sales in that category during past year. For example, a six-month supply of inventory is healthy compared to an18-month supply of higher end water direct lots at $900,000 to $4,000,000.
The transformation of the Marriott into the prestigious JW Marriott brand is an exciting prospect for the island’s economy. Rick discussed what visitors spend outside of the resort presently compared to what the JW Marriott brand will attract. The overall impact will be positive, but other businesses in the area could prepare to meet the expectations of the new visitor profile. The JW Marriott has already booked 80,000 of the 129,000 available nights in 2017. Rick agreed with other panelists, the economic outlook for Collier County is strong.