As Lehigh Acres’ population continues to grow, it is getting ever closer to the 100,000 mark that is expected to open the door to wider economic development. Current estimates of Lehigh Acres’ population are between 90,000 and 98,000.
According to WalletHub, an online personal finance website in Washington DC, Lehigh’s population grew by 12.9% between 2008 and 2012 making it the fastest growing community in among 516 that it compared. According to the 2000 census, Lehigh had a population of 33,242. To reach the lower estimate of 90,000 by 2014 it would have to of grown by 4,054 people per year.
To cope with this continued growth the Community Council are considering changing the way that they operate with council volunteer Tanni Baker commenting “The council is considering dividing Lehigh into zones and having a contact person in each zone to alert the council to local needs”.
In addition, reaching the 100,000 population mark is expected to bring with it a number of commercial benefits. Outback Steakhouse (along with many other commercial enterprises) have set their threshold of interest in communities at 100,000. However Inke Baker, President of the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce said that while hitting the 100,000 mark would make the community more attractive for businesses, a higher median income would be a more important factor. She commented: “It would be great to say we’re a community of 100,000. But I’d rather say we have a bigger piece of the commercial pie right now.”
While increasing population figures serve as a source of pride and attract new business to the area, Ruth Anglickis, a president of Landex Resorts, a condominium association and real estate management company based in Lehigh believes that it signals that it is time for a more fundamental change – incorporation as a city. While it is still a little early to be talking about incorporation, the way Lehigh Acres is growing, it is perhaps not as far off as once believed.