The data jumped off the page as state Rep. Brett Hage, R-Oxford, read the report.

He could only smile a little later as he heard the Florida Legislature’s chief economist cite numbers that resonated with his community during a recent presentation to the Florida House of Representatives Commerce Committee.

That data highlighted Sumter County as having the greatest percentage increase in state job growth from March 2007 to March 2018, a point that Hage relished hearing during his first meeting as a committee member. 

As a Sumter construction industry executive and former president of the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, it didn’t surprise Hage that the county experienced a 42.3 percent increase in jobs, largely because of The Villages’ growth and opportunities.

“The bottom line is this statistic is a testament to the county and to The Villages Developer in creating the jobs,” he said. “It’s awesome.”

What’s more, those jobs contributed to the improved quality of life in terms of goods and services produced and consumed from 2007 to 2017 in The Villages metropolitan statistical area.

During that time, The Villages MSA ranked as the ninth fastest growing economy among all U.S. MSAs. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product in The Villages MSA, a market basket of goods and services produced and consumed, grew by 51.4 percent to about $2.1 billion.

Also: What some may forget is this economic growth occurred in the aftermath of the 2008 national market crash. It was a tumultuous time that devastated the U.S. and Florida real estate markets, but to a much lesser extent in The Villages. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Naples, recently told the Daily Sun in an exclusive interview that The Villages contributed to his success as governor in rebuilding the state’s employment base and reviving the Florida economy. Known as “the jobs governor,” Scott fulfilled his original campaign promise to regain the jobs lost — and added thousands more — in wake of the market collapse. “When I ran my campaign in 2010, I set a goal of creating 700,000 jobs in my first four years in office,” Scott said. “Now, we’ve got about 1.7 million new jobs and unemployment down to 3.3 percent — lower than when I entered office.” Under his administration, The Villages MSA added 13,893 new jobs from November 2010 to November 2018, according to state and federal jobs data. “Like so many vibrant, growing communities around our state, the progress and success of The Villages is a testament to Florida’s booming economic turnaround over the past eight years,” he said.

Also: The Villages economy remains on solid economic footing, according to newly released state data. Total gross sales, for instance, increased by $316 million, or 13 percent, to $2.71 billion through the eight months ended Oct. 31 throughout The Villages MSA, which includes all of Sumter County but not The Villages in Lake or Sumter counties. Proof of that growth also emerged in state tax data that recorded a 12 percent year-over-year increase in the documentary stamp taxes collected on the sale of all property during fiscal 2017-18 in the MSA. Documentary stamp taxes collected totaled around $12.5 million. That’s a 70-cent tax on each $100 paid for the property.

Also: One recently released survey explains why The Villages MSA continues to grow. The Villages captured the No. 1 spot again in 2018 as the nation’s top-selling master-planned community. RCLCO Real Estate, one of the nation’s leading real estate advisory and consulting firms, ranked The Villages first with sales of 2,134 homes, or 655 more homes than the No. 2 ranking.

Also: The Villages lifestyle remains one of the best values in the country, according to CoreLogic’s latest home price index. For the second consecutive month, single-family home values in The Villages metropolitan statistical area exceeded the increase in the state and national averages, according to the November index published by the nation’s leading real estate data and analytics firm. Year-over-year home values grew by 6.14 percent for the month ended Nov. 30.

David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.