Investing in the Workforce

This month, a significant agreement was forged between Polk State College and Florida Polytechnic University. The arrangement establishes the first academic pathway for students to go from Polk State to the state’s only STEM-dedicated institution.

This is the type of proactive, forward momentum that advances Polk education and builds our profile as a region with competitive, adaptable graduates and a workforce trained for the latest trends in employment.

When companies consider growth, expansion, or even relocation, they evaluate the workforce of a region. They consider the colleges, universities, trade schools, and existing workforce to see if they are a good fit for the area.

I believe a city’s workforce is one of the most important draws for economic development and success. As economic trends shift, companies need those systems in place to adapt, train, and retrain the workforce and conquer the change.

Lake Wales and Polk County are in a very good, unique position in this respect.

We are fortunate to have Polk State College, Webber International University, and Warner University here offering excellent education and training a strong workforce for tomorrow’s world. Expand the focus out a bit, and we have Florida Polytechnic University, Florida Southern College, Southeastern University, Keiser University, technical schools and the colleges and universities in Tampa and Orlando at our fingertips with the latest in technology, healthcare, and business. We are part of two major metro areas to our West and East, and that proximity gives us an incredible advantage.

In addition to this, Lake Wales’ strong partnership with CareerSource Polk helps thousands of businesses find workers and keep those workers skilled in the latest industries.

It’s important to remember that there are many parts and factors involved in economic development. It’s not just about attracting companies but adapting to the times and keeping companies. If the workforce of a trade or industry isn’t strong in an area, then companies are not going to come. One area’s failure to plan becomes another area’s advantage.

The new Polk State/Florida Polytechnic agreement is so promising because it stacks the odds in our favor. It means more opportunities for local individuals to stay in the area after their schooling.  When we’re talking about local colleges and workforce training, the hope is that the great people from our area are getting skills and staying here to use them and make an impact.