Greater Lake Wales is unique for business, it’s good for business, it’s welcoming for business, and it’s very much open for business. Given that positive environment for potential new companies and commerce, it’s considerably easy to put together a top-10 list of reasons why all of this is true.
The items in the following package aren’t in any particular order, but each is relevant, interesting, and useful when the team with the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council (EDC) is on the recruiting trail for potential new enterprises or fielding inquiries from them.
- The location — Lake Wales truly is at the crossroads of Central Florida, situated right at the intersection of the north-south-running U.S. Highway 27 and the east-west-running State Road 60. From this locale, both Florida coasts and more-major transportation arteries, including Interstate 4, aren’t far away.
- The weather — We sometimes take it for granted, but our subtropical home here is the envy of most people in most other parts of our great nation. I hear it often, how “lucky” or fortunate I am — how fortunate we are — to live, work, and play in Central Florida.
- The Super Region — Lake Wales fits well into the greater Orlando economic region, and it fits well into the greater Tampa Bay economic region. The overlap is very beneficial, putting Lake Wales right in the middle of the 15-county Florida Super Region. More than 7 million people live within a 90-mile radius of Lake Wales. Those are 7 million-plus potential customers for any company that wants to do business here. In addition, Forbes.com recently ranked the Lakeland-Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Lake Wales, No. 18 on its list of America’s 25 Fastest Growing Cities.
- The workforce — Given its status as a Super Region community, Lake Wales and the communities nearby can combine to offer owner-managers of any new local business a very large pool of potential workers. It’s a workforce that’s getting broader, deeper, better trained, and better educated with each passing month.
- The welcome — Supported by a business-friendly state administration, state Legislature, Polk County government, Lake Wales is a truly business-friendly community. New business is wanted and welcome here, with the City of Lake Wales government and business leaders doing whatever is good and reasonable to assist with the EDC’s business-recruitment, expansion, and retention mission.
- The taxes — The corporate and other tax rates paid by businesses are comparatively low here, with government leaders at every level in Florida promising to keep them that way — if not further reduce them when possible. As recently as March 15, Florida Gov. Rick Scott highlighted more than $10 billion in tax cuts for Florida job creators and families, with more than $550 million in tax cuts coming during the just-concluded 2018 session of the state Legislature.
- The incentives — Incentives (primarily from state and county level sources) are available for businesses seeking to build here, expand here, or relocate here, and the good thing about those incentives is this: They’re transparent (meaning no secrets) and easy to navigate.
- The schooling — From kindergarten on up, the schools in greater Lake Wales are educating area children and young adults well and developing the kind of talent new enterprises can hire with confidence. In addition, the magazine U.S. News & World Report just recently released its annual ranking of state higher education systems, and, for the second year in a row, Florida was No. 1. Polk County is home to more than half a dozen public and private colleges and universities, including the latest school in the state university system, Florida Polytechnic University.
- The logistics — Transportation, warehousing, and distribution are key industries in greater Lake Wales, making it easy for any new manufacturer to get its products from here to there — wherever “there” is — or to receive the raw materials it needs to build. The nearby Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center (ILC), a state-of-the-art rail-truck terminal in south Winter Haven, is another plus for Lake Wales and any distribution-centric company that wants to locate here.
- The lifestyle — Like the weather already noted, the quality of life here also is a subject of envy. Another list can be created with entries about all the things to see and do with Lake Wales as a launching point, and it would be significantly longer than this list. From fishing and boating to top-name entertainment and thrill rides, the activities right here and within just a few minutes’ drive are abundant. Plus, it doesn’t hurt it one bit to let site teams for recruited businesses know that we’re just a few minutes away from the LEGOLAND Florida Resort and only 45 minutes from the Walt Disney World Resort.
In a nutshell, what does everything on this top-10 list tell us? It tells us that greater Lake Wales really is in the center of it all. It tells company owners shopping for a new business home that they can be in the center of it all, too.