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What would a Hertz bankruptcy mean for Southwest Florida?

Hertz is in deep financial trouble. A new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission questions whether the Estero company can last another year.

If it goes bankrupt, it could have a big impact on our community.

The rental car giant put Estero on the map.

“It’s our brand name. Anyone that hears about Hertz in Estero, they go ‘oh wow, that’s where Estero is,’ instead of the other way around,” said Bill Ribble, mayor of Estero Village.

So, the SEC filing in which Hertz says it “concluded there is substantial doubt regarding the company’s ability to continue” worries Ribble.

“Think about the payroll, and the multiplier that goes with that, and the money that’s spent not only here in Estero but many of those folks live in Fort Myers, all over Lee County and down into Collier County,” the mayor said.

Betty Leathers currently leases and sold properties to many Hertz employees. She said people in executive positions tend to buy homes, while the rest rent.

“Hertz may affect us possibly down the road, but at this point not yet. But we’re starting to see Chico’s layoffs; the folks who are renting, we’re giving them an early out on their lease,” Leathers said.

Even if Hertz headquarters shuts down, Southwest Florida’s housing market is strong enough to take the blow, she said.

“Our real estate sales have some pent up demand. People are anxious to get out and start looking again.”

Sunshine, palm trees and beaches will always be driving factors.

“It’s going to be very strong going forward. We may see a little dip maybe in the 4th quarter. But we expect that the market is going to be and continues to be strong,” Leathers said.

Ribble said that as far as the physical building, “I’m sure if that building would become available for lease or for sale that he would find someone to maybe not take over the whole building, but I’m sure he could find somebody that would want to come down here and use that facility.”

Hertz moved its headquarters to Estero in 2013.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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