Estero businesses, residents excited for Hertz relocation

David Albers/Staff
- A tract of land on the southeast corner of US 41 and Williams Road in Estero was announced Tuesday, May 7, 2013 as a proposed location for the future Hertz corporate headquarters.

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David Albers/Staff - A tract of land on the southeast corner of US 41 and Williams Road in Estero was announced Tuesday, May 7, 2013 as a proposed location for the future Hertz corporate headquarters.

Hertz relocating to Estero

Gov. Scott, Hertz CEO announce relocation.

— Kathleen Memoli knows a bit about relocating a business.

Memoli, co-owner of Perfect Fit Window Fashions, moved her showroom from Fort Myers to Estero about a year-and-a-half ago when the economy was “not-so-great.” She said it paid off to move south.

“This has been a much better location,” Memoli said. “We’re really pleased with our spot here.”

And things might get even better for Memoli’s business.

This week, Hertz Global Holdings Inc., a Fortune 300 company, announced it will relocate its corporate headquarters and about 700 jobs to a site on the southeast corner of Williams Road and U.S. 41, just three miles away from Memoli’s showroom.

Hertz Chairman and CEO Mark Frissora said the move will bring the rental car service giant closer to the millions of tourists who visit Florida each year.

It will also place hundreds of Hertz employees and their families closer to Estero businesses owners like Memoli who have been waiting for the local economy to stabilize.

Memoli expects there will be a trickle-down effect for other businesses that can provide the services Hertz employees and their families will need. She said her company is already at the cusp of expansion and the extra Hertz-related demand could be the last push it needs to grow.

“We could hire more people,” Memoli said. “It’s a big high five.”

Bob Muller, director of commercial real estate at Select Real Estate, said he is already seeing an uptick in interest because of the Hertz buzz.

“I’ve had phone calls from existing clients. This has pushed them to do things more quickly,” he said. “I’ve also, in the past two days, had several calls from brand new people that I’ve never spoken to that are seeking opportunities in Estero. And I thank Hertz and the media for that.”

Select Real Estate, a commercial and residential brokerage firm, represents the investors of two parcels located near the future site of the Hertz headquarters.

Select Real Estate President Stephanie Miller said Hertz’s announcement is a positive impact on the value of those parcels. The company is exploring ways to get those parcels ready for the ancillary businesses following Hertz to Estero.

“It means there is going to be the likelihood of more intense commercial uses around it,” Miller said.

But Hertz is not the only reason people are interested in the community, Muller said.

Lee Memorial Health System announced its intention to construct a hospital in south Lee County, and there’s already a university, multiple beaches and an international airport nearby.

Long-time Estero resident and community leader Don Eslick said the Hertz site is well-located because it is near the Coconut Point development area, which includes a large outdoor mall that draws tourists.

“To have another big anchor like that in a small community like Estero is really quite wonderful,” he said.

Eslick has seen Estero through a lot of changes since he moved there in 1999. He served on the Estero Council of Community Leaders, a grassroots organization that brings people from across the unincorporated community together.

Currently, he estimates about 37 percent of the people who live in Estero are seasonal, and said adding people to the community’s roster of year-round residents will create a more stable market and a foundation for future growth.

The Lee County School District could also benefit from the relocation, with more school-aged children potentially moving to Estero or nearby communities.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we could see an increase in student enrollment over time. Hertz is a big company, but they are also renowned for recruiting young professionals out of college, so it’s hard to tell what percentage of the workers here will have children coming to the area, initially anyway,” said Amity Chandler, school district spokeswoman.

Chandler said it’s too soon to tell whether the Hertz move will spur the need for more teachers, but predicted the population increase could benefit local schools.

“Any growth for the area is eventually good for schools, always good for schools, because those people tend to be homeowners and a percent of taxes supports schools.”

Eslick said Estero’s success will benefit the entire region, he said.

“We’ll be the catalyst for the next round of expansion in Southwest Florida,” he said. “If it happens here, it ends up spreading in different directions.”

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