Talmage: County Taking Proactive Approach to Growth Boom

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Lee County is taking action to meet the needs and challenges posed by the recent population boom, according to Lee County Economic Development Director John Talmage.

Talmage was the guest speaker at the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week.

“We are trying to be smarter about our growth,” he said, zeroing in on workforce issues and transportation solutions that could help alleviate shortages. The expansion of business giants such as Amazon, Wayfair, and Red Bull to Lee County means an even greater need for staffing.

Most of the potential for workforce housing lies in Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral, he pointed out. The challenge is to find more efficient ways to transport employees to coastal tourism and manufacturing areas. “Part of the solution is efforts expanding Lee Tran,” he said. The goal, he added, is to keep commuters off the highways.

A former Sanibel Island resident, Talmage sat for several years on the Sanibel City Planning Commission and a number of island boards of directors, including the Sanibel Community Association, F.I.S.H., CROW, and the Sanibel Sea School. He has spent more than 30 years working in the field of local economic and community development for municipal governments and national research organizations, previously as the chief of staff to the city manager of Fort Myers.

“When it comes to the local economy and how it impacts the islands and vice versa, John is the expert,” said John Lai, chamber president and chief executive officer. “We always appreciate his perspective on the region’s future, and never more so than now.”