LWEDC focuses on business retention, expansion
While the Lake Wales Economic Development Council strives to attract new businesses and industry leaders into the area, another important economic goal is to aid in the expansion of existing businesses.
When Lake Wales businesses grow, the local economy directly experiences the benefits from that expansion. The largest impact is the creation of new jobs that contribute to the health of the local economy.
When businesses expand, they order new equipment and build larger facilities required to increase production. The local economy indirectly benefits from business expansion as average wages increase and people spend more at local restaurants, retailers and shops.
A great example of business expansion in Lake Wales is Kegel, a company that manufacturers bowling lane machines and other bowling related services. Three years ago, Kegel added a machine workshop, which allowed them to in-source most of their manufacturing work to fill orders quickly and more efficiently.
Kegel is now able to manufacture much of their equipment in-house, rather than relying on third-party vendors. The expansion has added 11 jobs Lake Wales market so far. Kegel also generates revenue and passes it into the local economy in the form of payroll and wages.
Citizen’s Bank is another major employer in the Lake Wales area that has expanded considerably. After arriving in Lake Wales in 1998, the company has grown to 12 offices around the county, including two offices in Lake Wales. They also operate a separate bookkeeping facility, along with a processing area in Longleaf Business Park. The bank employs nearly 100 people in Lake Wales, with an annual payroll of almost $4.2 million.
Citizen’s Bank CEO and President Greg Littleton described economic growth and expansion as a mutually beneficial process.
“As businesses come to Lake Wales or existing businesses expand and grow, it gives us all more opportunity,” he said. “Specifically with our bank, as companies do better, their deposits grow and we do better.”
The LWEDC provides assistance to companies looking to expand their operations like Kegel and Citizen’s Bank. The economic development council provides information on available tax exemptions and other similar local, county, state and federal incentive programs.
The LWEDC works closely with other economic partners including The Central Florida Development Council and Enterprise Florida. The Central Florida Development Council markets the area from a county level. Enterprise Florida markets the area at the state level. Both partner agencies are instrumental in helping large firms relocate to the area. The Lake Wales EDC also works closely with Lake Wales city officials and can assist with identifying planning and permitting requirements and, in some cases, streamline or fast track the permitting process.
Kegel Company CEO Jonathan Davis said he appreciates LWEDC’s assistance in identifying workforce development programs, and connecting them with programs offered by Polk State College, Webber International University, Warner University and Ridge Career Center.
If you are planning to open a new business, expand and existing business or relocate your business to the area contact the Lake EDC office at (863) 676-3445 or visit is online at LakeWalesChamber.com.