Last updated: 4/26/2018
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A small town, Old Florida charm still defines much of the character of Charlotte County. However, this can soon change as growth and redevelopment have been catching up here since it was devastated by hurricane Charley in 2004.
Located in Southwest Florida along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Charlotte has a land area of 680 square miles, and its immediate neighbors include Sarasota to the northwest and DeSoto to the north. Punta Gorda, the county seat, is part of the North Port-Sarasota Combined Statistical Area and is Charlotte’s lone incorporated city.
Charlotte is a popular destination for retirees, with 2017 census statistics showing that 38.8 percent of the county’s population at age 65 and over. All told, the county has an estimated population of 182,033 as of 2017. From 2010 up to that year, the county’ population grew 13.8 percent.
Besides Punta Gorda, several popular census designated places (CDPs) in the county help propel its growth. These CDPs include Port Charlotte, Rotonda, Cape Haze, and Boca Grande. Babcock Ranch, billed as the world’s first solar-powered city, is also rising in a vast acreage straddling the Charlotte and Lee Counties.
Folks are drawn to Charlotte because of its healthy and growing economy. The county’s growth areas include more besides tourism, health care, professional service and finance sectors.
Notably, Charlotte has been ranked as the No. 1 “tech momentum market” in the U.S. Entrepreneurs and startups also troop in the county because of Florida’s tax climate favorable for businesses.
Moreover, Charlotte boasts of an educated, innovative and talented manpower pool to support the needs of its rising economy. Economic stimulus is also being provided by the county’s relatively lower cost of living and more affordable homes in eclectic communities offering various lifestyle choices.
Economic tailwinds for Charlotte County are likewise coming from the Punta Gorda Airport where its lone carrier, the budget airline Allegiant, has been adding more flights in recent years. A recent study estimated at $208.3 million the airport’s annual economic impact for the county alone, in addition to providing 3,618 full-time equivalent jobs, with annual payroll of $110.4 million.
The historic downtown Punta Gorda brings much of the delights for folks calling Charlotte County their home. Leisure activities in this city gravitate on the parks along the banks of the Peace River on both sides of U.S. 41, a highway which is host to several strip malls. For sports fishermen, the popular local choice of anglers is the wide and shallow waters of Charlotte Harbor.
Moving forward, there is still much to expect from this county in terms of development, especially in Port Charlotte. Allegiant Air has pipelined in this area a 25-acre master-planned resort called the Sunseeker to be built starting 2018. The resort is set for as many as 842 condo-hotel units and 277 hotel rooms plus related tourist facilities.
Officials estimate that this venture could rake in $335.6 million in taxable sales in the next 10 years. Sunseeker is projected to draw 300 visitors annually and create 500 full-time jobs besides the hundreds expected to be employed during its construction.