Midwest baby boomers join birds in flight south

Southwest Florida becomes popular retirement destination

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FORT MYERS, Fla.--For the past 25 years, most of the visitors to southwest Florida from the eastern seaboard were Boston baseball fans who flooded this once-quiet community every spring to get an early look at the latest rendition of their beloved Red Sox. A Midwest flavor was added with the arrival of the Minnesota Twins in 1991. Now, relocating baby boomers and other second-home buyers looking for more affordable property and a laid-back atmosphere have targeted the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, turning the five-county area between Sarasota and Naples into one of the fastest-growing areas of the country. Three of those counties--Charlotte, Lee and Collier--are projected to lead the state in percentage of population growth over the next 15 years, growing by more than 70 percent with a regional employment rate more than double the state's average. "You still have the East Coast people tending to follow Interstate 95 down to the east coast of Florida,'' said Brian Lucas, regional vice...