Lehigh Acres emerged from an expanse of southwest Florida’s wild lands due to the vision of industrialist, inventor, and self-made millionaire Leonard Lee Ratner and his business partners in the Lee County Land and Title Company. For Ratner, southwest Florida represented a land of opportunity. In 1952, he purchased Lucky Lee Ranch in eastern Lee County as a means to maintain his fortune; however, a chance meeting in Miami with Gerald Gould, a young advertising executive, forever changed the future of this Florida ranchland. They formed a company, began subdividing the land, and devised a marketing plan to attract buyers from the Midwest and Northeast by selling dreams in “a golden land of opportunity” and touting an average temperature of 74 degrees. Soon, roadways, model homes, the Lehigh Acres Country Club and Motel, and an ultramodern auditorium brought the community to life. As the decades moved on, the company’s holdings grew to 60,000 acres, making Lehigh Acres one of the largest subdivided communities in the nation. Rich in natural beauty, amenities, and activities, the dynamic marketing team convincingly sold many on the idea “that you needn’t be a millionaire to live like one” in Lehigh Acres.
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