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.
One of the Lake Wales EDC’s newest business partners is Pat Cain Wealth Solutions, a full-service financial-planning and investment company located in downtown Lake Wales. The company is owned by Pat Cain, a gentleman with deep roots in Lake Wales and a long history of community and public service.
If the EDC staff or any of the other council partners want some history about Lake Wales and some thoughtful perspective about where the community has been economically — and where it could go to help us all — Cain is one of the people to seek out.
Cain is a third-generation native of Lake Wales — “My family came here in 1919,” he says — and he now has grandchildren who are fifth-generation natives and residents of the city.
Cain says he was 15 or 16 years old when he landed his first job. He worked bundling newspapers on the weekends at the old Daily Highlander office in downtown Lake Wales, not far from his current investment office at 100 E. Stuart Ave. He says he would go to the newspaper office very early on weekend mornings, catch the papers as they came off the press and help bundle them in stacks of 50. “It was a tough job,” he recalls. “After a few hours of doing this, I would go home all black (from the newspaper ink).”
Cain went to Georgia Tech on a football scholarship but eventually transferred to the University of Florida, where he earned a degree in finance in 1969. Afterward, he went to work in his family’s auto parts and orange grove businesses. That lasted until 1986, when he got into investment work full time. Initially, he commuted to Lakeland daily to work at a Merrill Lynch office there, but soon he was back in Lake Wales, working at a branch investment office operated by Shearson Lehman Hutton. When that office closed due to the 1987 market crash. Cain joined Allen & Company for a few years before beginning his partnership with Raymond James in 1996.
“I’m an independent contractor; I own my own shop,” Cain says. Raymond James does the investment clearing work, provides the stock exchange floor traders, works through the regulatory requirements, produces the account statements and does the “due diligence” on investment projects.
A certified financial planner, Cain says he operates a “needs-based practice.”
“I have no preconceived solutions for my clients,” he says. “I tell them the advantages and disadvantages about any decisions they might make and then monitor their (investment) progress to help them stay on track.”
Cain’s business schedule has provided him with many opportunities through the years to get deeply involved in Lake Wales-area civic activities. Many people locally will remember the time he sat on the Lake Wales City Commission and served as mayor. He also was instrumental in the creation of the Lake Wales YMCA and in the work that saved and preserved the old Holy Spirit Catholic Church., the eventual home of the Polk State College Lake Wales Arts Center. Cain says he’s served or continues to serve with many booster clubs and boards, including the Lake Wales Charter Schools Board of Trustees, the Lake Wales Charter Schools Foundation and the Our Children’s Academy Board of Trustees.
More recently, Cain became involved with the Lake Wales Economic Development Council.
“I was intrigued by it when the idea of a public-private Lake Wales EDC first came up two or three years ago, and I wanted to be involved with that,” Cain says. “I support the marriage of the public and private efforts to diversify the economic base in Lake Wales. The citrus industry has its challenges, and we need to diversify the economic base.”
Cain says the CSX Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center, a commercial truck-rail transportation hub on the southern edge of Winter Haven, near State Road 60, very well could be a bonanza to Lake Wales, too.
“I’m a firm believer that the CSX Intermodal facility, located within five miles of us, will help us to fill up our industrial park and diversify our economic base,” he says. “We’re recognized as the geographical center of the state with major east-west and north-south routes and 5 (million) to 6 million people located within a 50-mile radius of us. We’re a natural as a distribution hub for Florida.”
Cain says the goal of economic development is to create “more jobs, more rooftops, more restaurants, more culture and more entertainment.” And, he says, “I think all of that will happen if we all work together.”
The Lake Wales EDC is pleased to have Pat Cain Wealth Solutions on board as a partner and pleased to be working together with Pat Cain, a businessman and public servant who brings so much knowledge, experience and sense of local history to the economic development table.
“I certainly can recall a lot of things,” he says. “I hope that will be helpful.”