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Creating a diverse, thriving, and expanding business environment doesn’t happen in a vacuum. By mandate and mission, the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council take the point in economic development efforts locally. That point, however, is small when compared with the broad group of agencies and organizations (and the many hundreds of people employed by them) that assist the Chamber-EDC in some way on an almost daily basis.

Whether it’s at the microeconomic level — recruiting and bringing to greater Lake Wales a single new business — or at the more macroeconomic level — making conditions here extra attractive to a broad range of prospective new businesses — economic development truly is a product of partnerships.

When I think about all the Chamber-EDC partners in Lake Wales-area economic development — the sources of vital insight, recommendations, information, resources, services, talent, expertise, and encouragement — the list gets quite lengthy. That’s a good thing, though, and encouraging.

Support providers for Chamber-EDC endeavors — and partners in any successes we’re able to claim — include, but certainty aren’t limited to, the following terrific organizations:

  • The City of Lake Wales and Polk County governments, with their business-friendly leadership (staff and elected) and their various departments, including planning, zoning, and utilities.
  • The Lake Wales Chamber-EDC volunteer boards, the Chamber’s business and individual members, and the generous EDC investors, which we note with gratitude on our website here.
  • The Central Florida Development Council and all of our fellow community economic development councils and organizations for lead sharing, coordination, and counsel.
  • Enterprise Florida, the Sunshine State’s top agency for business recruitment and job growth. The Florida Economic Development Council and the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals for their guidance and leadership for all statewide initiatives and issues.
  • Our fellow area Chambers of Commerce and the State of Florida organization for us all, the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
  • Main Street Lake Wales, with its primary mission to make Downtown Lake Wales an historical site destination for everyday business, shopping, and leisure activities.
  • Our local educational system, with all of our fine public, charter, and private schools, and our colleges and universities. They are remarkably involved in many of the things we do at the Chamber-EDC.
  • The Florida Department of Transportation and the Polk Transportation Planning Organization.
  • Our local electricity providers, Duke Energy and TECO Energy, and area natural gas provider, Chesapeake Utilities.
  • Our local providers of telephone and broadband service, including Verizon, Comcast, Frontier and Charter Spectrum.
  • The local railroad companies, Florida Midland and CSX.
  • Workforce agencies, including CareerSource Florida and CareerSource Polk.
  • The Small Business Development Center operated by the University of South Florida.
  • Central Florida offices of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Polk County’s Community and Small Business Assistance service.
  • Our local banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.
  • Our vast real estate community, with all of the brokers and Realtors who bring us business leads and help to showcase the area.
  • Business site location organizations in Florida and all across the United States.
  • Our established and growing general business community, which supports us by supporting the community with jobs, services, volunteerism, and philanthropic community investments.

As I wrote at the start, the Lake Wales Chamber-EDC is the head of economic development efforts locally, but the list above shows just how large the body of support is and must be to make those efforts successful. Chamber-EDC achievements aren’t ours alone. They’re shared achievements, and all projects touch most of these organizations at one time or another.

To all our economic development partners, thank you. We at the Lake Wales Chamber-EDC appreciate your service and help very much.