Lake Sumter Landing

Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages.

The Villages’ economic engine is revving up new businesses and powering new jobs at a rate that leads the state, according to a five-year snapshot by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Jobs here grew by 18% during that period compared to 12% statewide, and 23% more businesses started here — the biggest increase of any metropolitan statistical area in Florida.

The Villages’ growth will contribute nearly $820 million to the tri-county area’s economy this year, Robert Chandler IV, director of development for The Villages, told the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce this week.

“I think a lot of times people take for granted what The Villages does in terms of creating jobs and generating income,” Chandler said. “These things don’t just happen on their own. It’s because of all of the people in this room who have contributed to that machine.”

Construction of new homes in The Villages accounted for $716.8 million in economic impact to the area, Chandler said, while other activity from residents in the approximately 63,000 homes provided another $102.3 million.

Real gross domestic product, a measure of goods and services produced within the area, grew 3.7% in 2018 in Sumter County, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. Florida’s average was 3.5%.

Over the five-year period from 2014 to 2018, GDP here grew by 14.5%, ranking it as the fourth-fastest growing economy in the state behind St. Johns, Seminole and Levy counties.

That growth helps lure businesses and jobs to Sumter County, Administrator Bradley Arnold said.

“The data echoes what we’ve been communicating through Sumter County Economic Development, that The Villages is an economic engine for the county,” he said.

Nearly 10,000 workers are employed building new homes, Chandler said, and more than 1,700 jobs are created here each year in other industries.

“Your standard homebuilder is going to come in, build 1,000 or 2,000 homes then move on to the next community,” he said. “The Villages is not going to do that. The Villages will be here for another 20-30 years of growth. What does that mean for this community? It means consistent, predictable growth — the likes of which you’re not going to get from any other company. You’ve seen the results and seen how that can continue for another 20-30 years.”

Managing Editor Keith Pearlman can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5347, or keith.pearlman@thevillagesmedia.com. Senior writer David R. Corder can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.