Bonita Springs may create panel to help economy

Plans to heal the bruised Bonita Springs economy are moving closer to reality. A new committee developed to prop up the Bonita Springs economy is on tap for today’s City Council meeting.

In September, City Council and the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce embarked on a path to form an economic development committee that would guide new businesses to the area.

Their hope was to encourage businesses to fill in the empty buildings that have sprouted up throughout the recession.

With a goal of filling in vacant space and growing jobs, one of the first items of the new committee’s business would be to inventory available commercial space as well as forming a “red carpet team” to welcome new businesses to the area and guide them through the process.

The chamber, in its presentation months ago, suggested a budget of nearly $400,000. The figure seemed on par with several other communities with similar ventures.

However, in tough times and tight budgets, the city indicated the program needed private as well as public funding.

Bonita set aside $1,000 for economic development in this year’s budget.

The chamber is also looking to Bonita Springs Utilities and the Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue District for support.

Those are entities that new businesses would need to work with as they moved into new or established buildings.

Christine Ross, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, and Joseph Ariola, named as the committee’s chairman, said in a letter that the chamber hoped the city would match funds raised by other entities.

At today’s meeting, the chamber will detail for City Council the progress it has made in the past three months outlining its structure and goals.

The city is not expected to take any action on the new panel.

Connect with Tara E. McLaughlin at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tara-mclaughlin/

Connect with Tara E. McLaughlin at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tara-mclaughlin/

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