All the pleasures
Business View Magazine profiles Lakeland, FL, as part of our focus on best places to live in America.
In 1882, founder Abraham Munn purchased 80 acres of land and began the organization of the town of Lakeland. Three years later, in January of 1885, the town was incorporated. With a successful railway bringing 25 trains through each day, it was a prosperous community. Growth continued into the 1920s when, during the Florida land boom, many of Lakeland’s historical structures were built, a few of which are still standing. Today, it is one of the largest inland communities in Florida.
With more than 38 lakes, the city of Lakeland lives up to its name. These bodies of water act as local landmarks and are a source of enjoyment for residents and visitors to the area. Morton Lake, one of the most popular in Lakeland, is famous for its swans. The Mute White Swans, originating from a pair provided by Queen Elizabeth in 1957, bring both tourists and locals to the area. These swans are cared for and protected by the city, which recently sold more than 30 of them due to overpopulation. Each year, during the city’s swan roundup, the birds are captured and held in a large pen to be checked over by a local veterinarian. The cost of caring for them is part of the Lakeland operating budget, at $10,000 annually.
Lake Parker, the largest body of water in Lakeland is another popular destination. Enjoyed by families and fishers, this area is complete with boat launches and fishing piers, as well as walking paths, picnic areas, and playgrounds. With paths around its perimeter for biking and walking, Lake Hollingsworth, a local favorite, is a go-to spot for bird enthusiasts hoping to catch a glimpse of one of its many bird species, including pelicans and spoonbills. The northern side of the lake also offers a view of Florida Southern College. This historic campus was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938 and constructed over a span of 20 years. His famous style of organic architecture can be seen throughout 13 buildings on the campus, which displays the largest collection of Wright’s works in a single location and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The buildings and the adjoining tourism and education center attract thousands of tourists yearly.
Downtown Lakeland spans 555 acres and is divided into several subdistricts. This area offers an array of beautiful parks and greenspaces, including historic Munn Park, named after the city’s founder. The park sits in the heart of the community, often used for events such as “First Fridays” – a local festival offering a different theme on the first Friday of each month. Hollis Garden, yet another Lakeland treasure, provides an abundant canvas of florals and greenery overlooking Mirror Lake. Visitors to the downtown core can explore their foodie side at one of the local restaurants, visit a brewery, browse the unique stores and galleries, or take in a show at the historic Polk theatre. Revitalizing and growing downtown Lakeland is an ongoing project that has spanned several decades, while continuously being revised and updated to meet the needs of a diverse and growing population. A combination of residential, retail, and commercial space requires updates like the recently completed heritage parking garage, which was built to provide additional parking for downtown businesses and nearby office buildings.
Central to Tampa and Orlando, Lakeland is a vibrant and growing community for its population of 110,000. With a percentage of the residents relocating to Lakeland from other areas, the city continues working to make sure the housing supply meets the demand. Residential real estate is on the rise, as the city attracts buyers who want affordable housing outside of the larger surrounding urban areas of Tampa and Orlando. Development is underway in several areas of the city, including Mirrorton – an apartment and townhome community currently being built near Mirror Lake. Offering a contemporary urban aesthetic with an emphasis on leaving the car at home, this neighborhood located in the city core will be conveniently close to shopping and amenities, as well as cultural and community events, right in the hub of Lakeland. The ambitious project is estimated to be completed in Spring of 2022.
Employment is high in Lakeland, as the local industry has jobs available for a variety of education and skill levels. Well known supermarket chain, Publix, is the largest employer, providing more than 8,000 jobs between its head office and warehouse/manufacturing facilities. Other major employers include Lakeland Regional Health Systems, Geico Insurance, Watson Clinic, Southeastern University, and Saddle Creek Corporation. Economic development and expansion plans for the city include attracting new businesses to the community, with a variety of incentives available. Targeted industries include corporate headquarters, supply chain and logistics, value added manufacturing, and financial services, among others.
With a growing population, the city of Lakeland maintains its historic roots, while still ensuring a unique, quality experience for those who call it home. Miles of beautiful lakes and trails, combined with urban lifestyle and culture, offer an inviting place to live, work, and play.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: A city of 110,000
WHERE: Central Florida, west of Orlando
Central Florida Development Council – www.cfdc.org
With anchoring tenants, Florida Polytechnic University, focused solely on STEM education, and the new SunTrax test and verification track for autonomous vehicles, the Central Florida Innovation District provides a high-skill environment where businesses, researchers and students collaborate on cutting-edge technology.
Proximity fosters accessibility and connectivity, the CFID is no exception. Perfectly positioned along the Interstate 4 High-Tech Corridor, the District cultivates an innovation ecosystem that supports technologies of the future. Attracting companies in advanced industries like health tech, information sciences, mobility and advanced manufacturing. Companies like Molekule, which is building its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Lakeland, are drawn to the area by available talent and expertise that will enrich their research and development hub.
Located in Polk County’s cost-effective business climate and within a region that boasts a land lease rate four times lower than the Orlando area, businesses are poised for success within the district. A friendly regulatory environment can advance testing and deployment of technologies supporting autonomous and unmanned systems.
Contact the Central Florida Development Council for a confidential consultation and learn more about favorable tax climate, low business costs, property tax exemptions and other incentives.
Now is the time to invest in your future. What better place to do it than the Central Florida Innovation District?