We’d like to officially propose a new slogan for Lakeland: “Yes, we make that here.” Why? Because from lottery tickets to cottage cheese to fragrances to orange juice, we have a lot of locally made and grown products.
We wanted to know more about what brings businesses to Lakeland and what they’re making. Here’s what we found.
The bigger the better
When you talk about locally made products, Lakeland has some heavy hitters (think Publix, the Pepsi Bottling Group, and Pepperidge Farm). The Lakeland-Winter Haven metro area has a diverse manufacturing economy (ranked No. 8 in the nation for manufacturing jobs). Food manufacturing employs a large number of people, along with printing and machinery manufacturing. So it’s no surprise Lakeland was recently ranked as one of the best places to work in manufacturing.
Job hunting? Take a look at our list of the largest employers in Lakeland for some great opportunities.
Let’s look at what makes Lakeland a good home for these large-scale companies.
Thanks in part to our growth rate (No. 10 in mid-sized metro job growth), Lakeland-Winter Haven has a strong labor pool. The current workforce is skilled — with a total employment of 259,500 and access to more than 11 million people within a 100-mile radius with specialized talent in distribution, tourism, logistics, healthcare, financial services, IT, aviation, and more – but there’s also a strong emphasis on preparing the next generation for the workforce.
Polk County Public Schools have the second-highest number of National Career Academy Coalition accredited academies in the nation (more than 50, to be exact). Plus, we have six colleges and universities with 17,000 college students.
Interested in Lakeland’s schools? Check out our comprehensive guide.
Location, location, location
With Tampa only about 35 miles southwest, and Orlando only 55 miles northeast, Lakeland is a perfect place for transporting goods by land. Interstate 4 offers direct access to major markets and airports. Other options for transportation include Lakeland Linder International Airport (for jet use and Amazon Prime) the CSX Rail Access, and two major airports (TPA and MCO) less than one hour away.
Florida has the fourth-best business tax climate in the country. Plus, the state has no individual income tax.
Aside from taxes and incentives, Lakeland promotes research and innovation — evidenced in programs like Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute and the Advanced Mobility Institute within Florida Polytechnic University.
Last (but certainly not least), Lakeland is a nationally recognized community — read: People want to live here. We’re well-ranked as a safe place to live, the hottest housing market in the U.S., the most philanthropic city, and the top city to buy a home.
Ready to explore who is here and what are they making?Here is a list of our top employers and a bit about what they do:
- Publix — Bakery, deli, dairy, grocery, and home products
- Midstate Machine & Fab — Fabrication and general machining
- Mission Foods — Mexican cuisine products
- Harrell’s Inc. — Fertilizer blending
- Pepperidge Farm — Bakery goods
- Keymark — Aluminum extrusions
- IGT — Lottery tickets
- Carpenter Company Inc. — Expanded polystyrene foam
- Refresco — Fruit juices
- JBT Food Tech — Citrus processing equipment
- MAX PAK — Corrugated containers
- Firmenich, Inc. — Flavors and essence
- Treatt USA — Flavors and fragrance ingredients
- Integrated Metal — Metal processing and fabrication
- Draken International — Aircraft
- Cidrines — Bakery
Don’t forget the “little” guys
Big names account for a lot of Lakeland’s reputation as a manufacturing hub, but the mid-size and small businesses are an important part of our economic landscape.
Lakeland’s resources target the specific needs of mid-to-small-sized businesses — such as the Chamber’s Leads Groups, Business After Hours, and New Business 101 sessions. Catapult Lakeland provides educational programs, workshops, and mentoring opportunities for entrepreneurs. Additional resources include the Lakeland Economic Development Council, Lakeland CRA, Central Florida SCORE, and many more.
Here are a few (of the many) mid-to-small businesses in Lakeland.
- Patriot Coffee Roasters — Coffee
- Brew Hub — Craft beer
- Southern Milling & Lumber, Inc. — Lumber processing and pallets
- PlayCore — Commercial playground equipment
- Maclan Corp. — Synthetic rubber
- Alaso — Poultry equipment
- Insulfoam — Polystyrene insulation
- Rubber & Accessories — Hoses, couplings, and conveyor belts
The main takeaway is this: Lakeland attracts and sustains businesses. We have a growing workforce, a prime location, and resources to support a variety of industries.
Is there a biz that didn’t make our list? Tell us about it.