When the Lake Wales Economic Development Council takes its presentations on the road, or when the Chamber of Commerce-EDC team fields phone calls at the office, oftentimes we’re talking with people — potential business investors — who know little to nothing about greater Lake Wales. After telling these folks or confirming for them where we are in beautiful Central Florida, what usually follows for us is a series of questions — queries that help our new contacts size up Lake Wales’ chances of being the best place to build or expand a business.
While each conversation takes its own unique path, generally our potential new investors want to know five things about the Lake Wales area, and the priority for topics goes something like this:
- Property availability — This encompasses undeveloped land, developed land, vacant buildings, and land use. Basically, does any of the available sites locally fit the type of business in question? Does it meet the company’s criteria? Does the building or site even work? Is the site “shovel ready,” with utilities and basic infrastructure already in place. Area soil, water, environmental, wildlife habitat, and other required studies already completed?
- Demographics — In considering Lake Wales as a business location, potential investors want a snapshot of the community. Who lives here (even going out five to 10 miles from the city’s center)? What’s the population like, and how does it break down by age, gender, income, education level, etc.? What are the leading local industries? Are the workers in the area mostly local or are the commuter numbers high? What do the drive-time statistics look like? Property brokers often have these demographics at their fingertips, but other people we speak with at shows and over the phone usually don’t.
- Schooling — People want to know about our schools, from elementary through high school and even at the post-secondary level, and they want to know about their quality. “Would the children of my potential employees have good schools to attend?” A twist on the question is this: “Would my potential employees be the products of good schools?”
- Quality of life — This could include a lot of different things. What’s the restaurant mix? What about shopping and entertainment? What are the roads like? Are major highways and interstates nearby? What about parks and attractions? Are there things to do with the family?
- Development support — Potential business investors want to know that they’re wanted. They want to know whether people, agencies, and organizations are in place to help them if and when they need it. What’s it like doing business with the city? Is local government business friendly? What are the go-to agencies for help with utility services, development support, and construction streamlining? Who are the people who make things happen?
While we at the Lake Wales Chamber-EDC field a wide variety of questions, the ones in the categories mentioned above are they ones we get the most — and it’s important that we have ready answers for them with up-to-date information. Our job, in great part, is to shine the best possible light on the Lake Wales area for business and economic development, but we want to factual, open, and honest in the process. Most of all, we want to be helpful — helpful to anyone with any level of interest in setting up shop in greater Lake Wales. Can we help you?
We welcome questions by phone at 863-676-3445 or by website contact page at http://business.lakewaleschamber.com/contact/. If you want to stop by, our offices are at 340 W. Central Ave., Lake Wales, FL 33853. Business hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.