Cape Coral, Lehigh, Fort Myers among the biggest ‘boomtowns’ in nation

Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Fort Myers are “boomtowns.”

The three areas in Lee County cracked the top 50 list of boomtowns in a new study by SmartAsset, a New York financial technology firm.

Although it’s seeing growth too, Naples — in neighboring Collier County — didn’t make it on the list. It’s not considered in the study, due to its smaller population.

To determine the rankings, SmartAsset analyzed 500 of the largest cities nationwide.

What metrics were used? Researchers looked at changes in population, unemployment and household income, as well as the growth in businesses, housing and GDP — or economic output.

“Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Fort Myers stand out for strong growth in both their population and number of local businesses. All three cities have top-50 rates in these metrics out of the 500 total cities analyzed,” said A.J. Smith, personal finance expert and vice president of content at SmartAsset, in an email.

While SmartAsset has done similar studies, the company used a new methodology for the latest one.

“We’ve analyzed boomtowns in the past,” Smith said. “Most recently in 2017, but this year’s findings are not directly comparable.”

Cape Coral weighed in at No. 22 on this year’s list of boomtowns. Meanwhile, Lehigh Acres ranked 29th and Fort Myers 41st.

Why did Cape Coral rank higher than the other two areas in Lee County? In large part due to the city’s housing growth (+6.64%) and income growth (+18.19%) over the past five years.

“We’ve analyzed boomtowns in the past, most recently in 2017, but this year’s findings are not directly comparable,” Smith said.
Tre Sovich, 12, of Cape Coral zips down the main zip line at Gator Mike’s in Cape Coral. The 550-foot zip line can reach speeds of 26 miles per hour.Buy Photo

In 2017, Cape Coral ranked as the No. 1 boomtown on SmartAssets’ list, using the old methodology. That ranking was largely due to a big influx of new residents and the growth in the area’s GDP from 2012 to 2016.

Florida cities and towns dominated SmartAsset’s top 10 list of boomtowns in 2017, with eight areas making the cut, including Largo and the Palm Coast.

In 2019, only one city in Florida made it into the top 10 — Miami, weighing in at No. 4.

The top three boomtowns for this year are Longmont, Colorado, followed by Denton, Texas and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Rounding out the top five is Greeley, Colorado.

Here are some of the key findings from this year’s study nationwide:

Cities and towns in Colorado, Texas and South Carolina dominate the top 10 rankings
No cities in the Midwest or Northeast made it on the list
Some boomtowns are outpacing the pack, including Greeley and Round Rock, Texas

Jim Wall, communications director at CareerSource Southwest Florida, which matches job seekers with local employers, noted that eight of the 10 boomtowns in 2019 are anchored by medium-size public universities and colleges. He said that’s no coincidence in an era of “helicopter parenting,” with children more closely tied to the family’s purse strings and Gen Z heading off to college


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