Florida Keys Economy Showing Signs of Improvement

During the Florida Keys’ annual September business lull, sustainable and established businesses are proving able to weather any economic storm that may lie just on the horizon. Even in the slowest month of the historically based tourism economy, many are able to absorb the cyclical changes.

New Jersey native Paul DiMatteo, owner of Boardwalk Pizza in Islamorada since 2005, said Labor Day weekend provided a nice shot in the arm before business has slowed in September.

“We expect it every year,” he said. “This month is always slow.”

Laurie Tencelski at Laurie’s Deli in Marathon said the pace of business in the late 80s and early 90s typically dropped off as soon as seasonal residents headed back north each spring.

“The whole town got quiet,” she recalled, laughing that through the Middle Keys, one could practically lie in the middle of U.S. 1 traffic was so infrequent. “We’re thankful we now have that busy June, July, and even August.”

“It’s clear to me the Keys’ economy is ‘correcting’ from an artificial, unsustainable real estate-based economic rise and fall,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi offered. “The numbers don’t lie.”

Monroe County Airports Director Peter Horton confirmed passenger numbers at Key West International Airport are up nearly 15 percent for the first seven months of 2010.

The airline industry nationwide reports an eight percent increase over last year with an extremely strong July.

“Even though it’s our slower time in the Keys, June, July, and August is the peak season for the airline industry in the United States,” Horton explained. “Whether they’re traveling for business, pleasure or whatever, passenger numbers are up nationwide eight percent. Our July numbers are up 9.8 percent over last July.”

The addition of AirTran service from Key West to Orlando in December 2009 has also helped increase the flow of traffic through EYW.

“Many people now tell me they can afford to fly out of Key West,” he added. “Low cost competition is good for a small airport like ours. Other airline fares drop when a new, low cost competitor comes in.”

First State Bank of the Florida Keys recently released their second quarter earnings and growth results, and they reported positive earnings with a 20 percent increase in capital with 41 percent of its assets in cash or liquid investments and more liquidity than is required by the government.

“Our local focus, long term planning and conservative philosophy allows First State Bank to deliver positive results while providing a stable and strong community bank that locals can rely on through this economic turmoil,” said Karen Sharp, First State Bank President and CEO.

Notes
Tourist impact tax up 7%; sales tax up 3%; NEED to call Chambers, Lodging Association, TDC, etc.

Gastesi…Don’t listen to the fly-by-night businesses that formed during the crazy 20% annual growth years and have had to close their doors now that reality has come. The good sustainable businesses absorb the changes…Talk to the folks that have been in business in the Keys for decades…they’ll tell you that this is yet another “Cycle” and that their business is thriving…

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