Published: Jan 02, 2013 7:10 PM EST
Updated: Jan 02, 2013 7:11 PM EST

CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- Drive through Cape Coral and you'll probably see half-full strip malls. Many have sat vacant for years. But only on WINK, we've learned new businesses are filling them once again at high numbers!

The "OPEN" signs in this strip mall at 311 Del Prado Boulevard say it all. The slots, once vacant, are getting new life: becoming restaurants, a cigar store, and even an exercise studio.

 "We like this location in the city because no one offers cardio classes like we do." Carrie Turley-Smith started a Brickhouse Cardio Club about three months ago.

"I'm the only one in Florida currently, we have another one opening in Palm Beach, so Cape Coral is a whole new venture into the Brickhouse franchise," she said.

According to Cape Coral's Economic Development Office, placed-based businesses are up almost 50 percent, and total businsess licenses which include people working from home, are up 14 percent year to year.

"The market is recovering, there's a little more consumer confidence, there's more production going on, so you're starting to see people spending money again," said Economic Development Director Dana Brunett.

He also says low rents are making it easier for people who used to work from home, to set up a storefront.

Elmer Tabor owns Wonderland Realty and has noticed the business boom. "What we're seeing now is true businesses that have a track record and have a survivability rate. And that's all good," he said.

Another reason for the increase? Businesses are expanding in Cape Coral.
The trend is also driven by people who have relocated their business to the city from somewhere else in the nation.