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Hertz moving headquarters to Estero, Fla: Resident...
Hertz moving headquarters to Estero, Fla: Resident...: Estero residents were caught by surprise Tuesday when they learned rental car giant Hertz plans on building its headquarters in their community. Estero residents are excited about Hertz creating at least 700 jobs. Video by Chris Umpierre
Coconut Point Mall in Estero / news-press.com

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3:19 p.m. update

A man who played a key role in transforming Estero's farmlands into a thriving community with two malls, a four-star hotel, a championship golf course and an abundance of upscale communities called Tuesday one of the best days in Estero history.

“And if we get the new (south Lee County) hospital approved on June 7 it’s going to be even more terrific news,” said Don Eslick, who founded the Estero Council of Community Leaders, a voluntary group representing 17 Estero gated communities.

Eslick, who helped approve a community plan for Estero and structured citizen design panels, believes Hertz’s decision to move its world headquarters to U.S. 41 and Williams Road in Estero solves one of the community’s big issues: too much zoned retail space.

“We have too much property on U.S. 41 and Corkscrew Road zoned for retail,” Eslick said. “This really helps to solve that problem. In addition, it will help with the housing demand. We have so many people that don’t live here year around. It will change the complexion of the community somewhat as people who work at Hertz buy houses here.”

2:51 p.m. update

Tara Beauchesne, spokeswoman for Coconut Point mall, located a mile south of Hertz's announced site:

"Coconut Point is very pleased to welcome Hertz to the Estero community. The company’s new headquarters will be a significant addition to the local economy; and we are excited they decided to establish a presence here. This definitely adds cache for Estero and the surrounding areas and elevates our retail attractiveness. We welcome Hertz, their employees and families to our little corner of paradise."

(Page 2 of 2)

12:24 p.m. update

Estero resident Russ Press was so excited about Hertz moving its headquarters to Estero that he purchased The News-Press on Tuesday morning to document the news.

“I think it’s great news for Estero and the state of Florida,” Press said as he read the newspaper outside of Panera Bread at the Coconut Point Mall in Estero. “We have a lot of unemployment issues and this is going to help provide more jobs and jobs that are skilled and will pay money.”

The rental car giant plans on spending $50 million to build its headquarters in Estero. Hertz plans on bringing at least 700 jobs paying an average $102,000. The site for the headquarters at U.S. 41 and Williams Road is a few miles from Coconut Point Mall.

“It’s a great idea,” said Heather Mundt, a manager at Evelyn & Arthur clothing store at the Coconut Point Mall. “It’s going to bring business here, jobs to the county and make it easier to rent cars.”

Coconut Point Ford employees had a meeting Tuesday morning to discuss Hertz’s decision. Hertz’s headquarters will be across the street from the successful Ford dealership. Coconut Point Ford manager Bobby Collins said his dealership has posted a record number of car sales in each of the past three years. Internet inquiries and car services are also posting record numbers, he said.

“We embrace the competition,” Collins said. “We understand they are going to bring 700 employees. We look forward to them being future Ford owners. Anytime there’s growth and new companies coming in, it can do nothing but good. We just had a meeting about it and it’s all positive.”

Coconut Point Ford opened in December 2005. It also owns a car wash and quick service lane next to the dealership.

• • •

Estero Council of Community Leaders Chairman Nick Batos is excited about Hertz coming to Estero.

"It just looks like it's a fantastic opportunity for not only Estero but Lee County and all of Southwest Florida," he said.

"Nothing like this has occurred before. It will create so many jobs at one time. It'll also diversify the base in which we’re dependent on. We've been so dependent on tourism; at least this will give us a different aspect.

"I think that it will make people think, make companies think about this area to move because it's such a large company. If they’ve picked it out, they've seen a lot of good things that are available down here."

Batos said Lee Memorial Health System's plans to build a hospital less than two miles south off U.S. 41 will also have an impact if approved. He believes both projects would attract development.

Christina Cepero contributed to this story.

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