From the kind and industrious souls who help this community “go” and prosper to its beautiful natural surroundings and the magnificent Bok Tower that sits atop Iron Mountain, greater Lake Wales truly is blessed with an abundance of treasures. One of its newest treasures can be found where Timberlane and Masterpiece roads meet on the southwest shore of Lake Pierce. It’s the new Capernaum Lakeside Lodge and Conference Center.
A lot of good things are happening and will be happening soon at the 88-year-old Lake Wales Municipal Airport on the city’s west side, and Alex Vacha is very excited to be in the thick of it all.
With a switch in administrative structure at the city-owned airport, Alex is the new airport manager. His first day on the job was April 4, and he’s been on the go ever since then. But, that’s more than OK with him. He told me in a recent conversation — and has told many others — that this is his “dream job.”
Hundreds of business movers and shakers who knew little to nothing about greater Lake Wales just a few weeks ago now have our great community on their radar.
Kevin Kieft, David & Mary Margaret Fisher - ISCS RECON, May 2016
There’s a need in greater Lake Wales, and it’s a need that presents a big and wonderful opportunity for the right company or companies willing to address it.
It’s a need borne of successful local economic development. It’s a need that can be economic development in its own right. It’s a need that can support the cause of further economic development for years to come.
The need is for housing — housing of all kinds but particularly executive-level homes, condominiums and apartments.
Residents and businesspeople in greater Lake Wales have several choices when it comes to local banking and lending institutions. Among them, CenterState Bank plays a valuable role as an investor partner and supporter of the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council.
CenterState was formed in Winter Haven in 2000 and had a branch presence in Lake Wales by May 2004. With headquarters now in Davenport, the company has quickly grown and expanded to include 66 banking centers and four loan-production offices in 25 Florida counties — from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville.
The main focus of most economic development efforts is to attract “primary jobs.” These are jobs that result from new industry, manufacturing plants, transportation hubs, warehousing and distribution operations, call centers, and large office complexes, just to name a few examples.
Economic development doesn’t end there, however. Not by a long shot. Good economic development is well-rounded economic development, which the Lake Wales Economic Development Council is striving for locally. An important component of fuller economic development is retail — steady and consistent growth in the number of close-by retail establishments and breadth of retail services.
In the highly competitive arena of business recruitment and economic development, mighty important tools include an office, computers, a website, email, current demographic data, a property inventory, marketing material, telephones, and a well-trained staff to answer those phones. The marketing and promotional material, in the form of newsletters, leaflets and booklets, had been created using booklet printing services online like Printivity.
Truly, we’re a fortunate group here at the Lake Wales Economic Development Council. Our roster of EDC partner-members is brimming with people whose interest in the future of greater Lake Wales — an interest in a better future — goes well beyond the walls of the businesses and organizations that employ them. The decision each of them made to invest corporate or other resources in the economy-building work of the EDC is a great example of that interest, but it’s not the only example — not by a long shot.
The holiday season is always a time of reflection and expectation — reflection upon the year just past and expectation and anticipation about what the new year might bring.
At the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, we can look back on 2015 and be pleased — and grateful — for a large number of announced new business projects for greater Lake Wales. We also are very optimistic that the level of economic development activity this year will provide a springboard for even greater activity in 2016.
Anyone who’s had to travel U.S. Highway 27 between Lake Wales and Interstate 4 knows that it’s a busy stretch of highway. Very busy. Some might even use the word congested — and that’s despite a steady stream of widening and improvement projects through the years.
It’s easy to understand why U.S. 27 is so well traveled. Polk County’s population is increasing at a significant clip — particularly on the eastern side — putting more motorists on the highway.
Optimism about the future of economic development in greater Lake Wales is scaling new heights, bolstered by a considerable amount of positive local business news from the past 16 months or so. That news was summarized in a Lake Wales Economic Development Council (EDC) report and presentation to the Lake Wales City Commission on Oct. 6.
For those who couldn’t attend the commission meeting, I’d like to take the opportunity in this month’s EDC column to share the highlights from the presentation.
Economic development is a highly rewarding endeavor with a high return on investment, made all the more enjoyable by the quality partnerships that make it all possible. Had it not been for those partnerships, we at the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council might not be celebrating — still! — the recent recruitment to the city of a key unit of Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of the Legoland Florida Resort.
Regional economic development approach is a winner; Merlin Magic Making coming to former Harley Davidson dealership site in Lake Wales
Regional economic development — the sharing, collaborating, coordinating and cooperating kind of approach — works almost every time it’s tried. There’s a perfect example of that in the tremendous economic development news that broke in our own backyard just a few weeks ago.
Taking you back to July 20, Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of the nearby Legoland Florida Resort and the world’s second largest attractions operator, announced that it was expanding its Central Florida operations
Challenging. Rewarding. Enriching. Satisfying. A lot of words can be used to describe economic development, but these four consistently rise to the top of the list.
Among the many people involved in the work of economic development in and for greater Lake Wales, “challenging” is used in the most positive sense — demanding in a way that’s interesting, competitive and enjoyable. It’s the kind of challenge that would prompt me to leave a regional leadership post with the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
Occasionally in this space, I would like to take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on one of the many businesses and organizations that are directly involved with the Lake Wales Economic Development Council in the worthy work of local business building and job creation.
These generous and very involved partners — and the fine individuals behind them — truly form the heart of the council, providing energy, ideas, expertise, leadership and financial resources for the exciting task at hand.
When you take some time to think about the work of effective and sustained economic development, it doesn’t take long to realize that one of its chief goals, if not thechief goal, is to improve the quality of life — for everyone.
That’s usually what happens when an existing business expands operations, a compatible new business or industry comes to the town, or a combination of the two. Job opportunities increase, higher-wage jobs become available, families have more disposable income, the tax base expands, and government can more easily improve essential services and build on the recreational and leisure services already in place.
It’s no secret that in the arena of business and industry recruitment, the competition is fierce, making the task of expanding the number and quality of jobs a challenging one for any economic development enterprise. That being said, it’s good to know at the local level that, here in Florida, our state leaders “get it” when it comes to business.
Anyone who’s been involved with economic development for any length of time likely came to learn and understand this early on: Company leaders care about education. They care about the education and skill levels acquired and possessed by the people who work for them or who might one day work for them.
This is true particularly when it comes to business location and relocation.
Good year-round weather, a quality transportation infrastructure, an excellent business tax climate, a low-cost operating environment, and a pro-business mindset at most levels of government. All are positive reasons to start a new business or expand an existing one in Florida and, in particular, in greater Lake Wales.
Yet, there are even more reasons —financially beneficial reasons for the short and long term — for business owners or entrepreneurs to take a hard look at Lake Wales as a company home or a place to launch a satellite operation.
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.