Building a More Livable Southwest Florida After Hurricane Ian
Building a more livable Southwest Florida after Hurricane Ian
By Josh Goergen, MBA
As Southwest Florida begins the long recovery process after Hurricane Ian, SWFL Inc. will continue to be a resource and support the business community. SWFL Inc. is adamant in our efforts to build back the business community as stronger than ever.
Before the storm, Southwest Florida was already suffering from an existing workforce housing shortage. Hurricane Ian has now exasperated it. As our local governments focus their efforts on rebuilding our communities, there is an opportunity for counties and municipalities to try something different by incentivizing a mix of housing products, increasing densities, building vertically, and allowing for flexibility in their land development code. Not only can local governments use some of these ideas to increase the supply of workforce housing, but they can also speed up the development process by expediting the permitting process and fast-tracking projects dedicated to the development of workforce housing. For example, local governments that have areas within their boundaries that were once thought to be just for single-family homes may want to reconsider what multifamily options they can provide. Apartments and condominiums should also consider looking for ways and need assistance from local governments to add additional units during the rebuilding process.
Every Southwest Florida resident has been affected by Hurricane Ian in some way. Whether you lost your home, your car, or literally everything. Two things should be on the top of our elected officials' minds: housing and resiliency. If we want to build a better Southwest Florida, we need to build more housing that is affordable to the general workforce.
“While Southwest Florida begins the rebuilding process, housing must be at the top of every decision maker’s priority list”, said Tiffany Esposito, SWFL Inc.’s President & CEO. “The success of our business community is directly connected to the supply of workforce housing. Without an adequate supply, our businesses will continue to suffer from hiring and retention challenges.”
Our region will face many challenges in the upcoming months, however, it's important that we think strategically when we plan and design our communities, as well as thinking outside the box when it comes to our housing challenges. With all the growth Southwest Florida is seeing and will continue to see, we must continue to focus on providing more housing for our workforce.
SWFL Inc. will continue to work with policymakers, both local and state, to ensure the goals of the business community are met. Our efforts will be heavily focused on local policy solutions, and we will continue to shed light on housing issues throughout Southwest Florida. To stay involved with SWFL Inc.’s advocacy efforts, visit https://www.swflinc.com/economic-development