A somewhat soggy billboard site is an unusual place to hold a press conference. But for the city of Cape Coral, it was the perfect location to announce to the world that it's "open for business."
It was underneath this billboard on U.S. 41 in North Fort Myers that the city and Lamar Advertising announced a public/private partnership to launch an economic development image campaign as a way to bring business to Cape Coral, a city in desperate need of it.
Many of the city's political and business elite were on hand for the event where a new billboard was unveiled to proclaim the city is ready to open its figurative arms to businesses, creating opportunity for new revenues and jobs.
"We're trying to get the word out about Cape Coral as a place to do business. We have a lot of visitors every year, so we want them to understand Cape Coral is here and a great place to start a business or relocate," said Dana Brunett, Cape Coral's Economic Development director. "We have to grow our commercial tax base because it's out of line with residential."
The event featured presentations from Brunett, Mayor John Sullivan, and Ed Bolter, vice president and general manager of Lamar, before the new billboard was unveiled.
The yellow sign proclaims Cape Coral to be "The Largest City Between Tampa and Miami," with the city's logo and the words "Open for Business" underneath, with the website www.bizcapecoral.com and the Lamar logo underneath.
Lamar will donate 16 billboards (including five digital boards) throughout Southwest Florida for the campaign that will plaster Cape Coral's name on signs in some of the busiest highways in the area.
"We wanted to do something on a positive note to help the city and over time the idea germinated and with the right people in place, we were able to get this launched," Bolter said. "We'll be moving these throughout Southwest Florida for the foreseeable future."
The site of the press conference, located on the gateway to Cape Coral, was chosen to show the impact just one of those billboards can bring.
According to statistics provided by the Florida Department of Transportation, the daily effective circulation how many people pass by the billboard is 34,155 people per day, with total impressions per week at 129,107.
Add that to the 15 other billboards to be used, the campaign will draw around 369,323 DEC and more than 1.18 million total impressions per week.
"Anything we can do to draw business to Cape Coral is good. We have to let businesses know the economy is stronger, and that we're open for business," said Heather Mazurkewicz of the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association.
None of those total impressions will be in Cape Coral, since billboards are not allowed by the city.
Sullivan doesn't see that as a problem.
"The object is to let people outside of Cape Coral know. We already know, they don't," Sullivan said. "The signs would be wasted in Cape Coral."
Sullivan said this is an opportunity for Cape Coral to move into the forefront.
"It's about time Cape Coral got on the map. I'm surprised this wasn't done a long time ago," Sullivan said. "We're finally going to move forward and take our rightful place in Lee County."