Now, we all know 2020 brought a lot of uncertainties, both globally and closer to home – one of them being what the state of the local economy will look like going into 2021.
Rather than trying to squeeze NPR’s full collection of Planet Money into our brains in a few sittings, we turned to Ashley + Sean – our two local experts – for insight on what Lakeland (and Polk County as a whole) could economically expect in the coming years.
AC: Lakeland experienced exponential growth in 2020. In downtown, we saw the groundbreaking of Summit Consulting, Bonnet Springs Park, and Mirrorton. We also saw the opening of Catapult’s new 40,000 SF entrepreneurial space. In addition, Publix completed and moved into their expanded Corporate Headquarters office, Amazon completed and opened their newest air cargo facility located at Lakeland Linder International Airport, HCA Healthcare signed a 712,000 SF lease, and the list continues. Overall, we saw 3M SF+ of new buildings, over 1,700+ new jobs, and over $300M in capital investment.
2020 was a hard and difficult year for small businesses, many of whom are still getting back up on their feet. We believe 2021 will be a year of resilient growth for small and local business, and continued growth for large industry.
SM: We foresee 2021 will be another strong year for the construction industry in Polk County. The Lakeland Winter Haven MSA had the third-fastest annual job growth rate of all areas in the state for mining, logging, and construction. This past year we also saw the growth of food and beverage industry manufacturers such as Florida Can Manufacturing, Farmer Jon’s Popcorn and major expansions of Peace River Citrus Products and Dispenser Packaging Inc. Additionally, the e-commerce industry continues to grow in Polk as Amazonexpands its footprint to nearly 3.5M SF county-wide and multiple Prime Air flights a day into LAL.
Get a little more macro with us by clicking the button below to learn about local economic threats, recession predictions + real estate.
Coronavirus ○During a city commission meeting earlier this week, Lakeland commissioners decided against a mask mandate, and instead, called to draft a public awareness campaign. This decision came after commissioners heard from local health experts who shared an update on COVID-19 in the community – which included statistics on higher case + hospitalization rates. Commissioners are planning to discuss the campaign at their Friday agenda meeting + vote on it next Tuesday at a commission meeting. (LkldNow) ○ With the new COVID-19 relief bill, small business owners, such as Annette Parrish, are hoping for another chance at financial relief, specifically through the $284 billion Paycheck Protection Program. Previously in March, when the program was first launched, funds ran out before Annette was able to receive any. (Bay News 9) ○ On Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health announced 14,896 new cases of COVID-19 and156 additional deaths in Florida. That brings the total number of cases in FL of COVID-19 to 1,503,482 + the total deaths to 23,227.You can find more updates concerning COVID-19 case numbers on the Florida Department of Health dashboard. See Lakeland + Polk numbers here. ○Monitor the Florida Department of Health in Polk’s website for the latest information regarding vaccines.
Edu ○Since the middle of 2020, there has been a growing number of parents in Polk County who have opted to send their children to school for in-person learning. In September, the number of children (under 18) who attended school on campus for in-person learning was 56,903, and since the middle of Dec., now stands at around 72,000+. Around 41,000 students (under 18) in Polk County first started the school year by attending classes online (through Polk Virtual School or home-schooling), and now that number sits around 30,700. (The Ledger)
Community ○ Pop quiz: Which mascot should Davenport’s new elementary school adopt – the “Bears” or the “Panthers?” Share your input by picking your favorite here. The choices were narrowed down to these animals due to the school’s location in the Northeast area of Polk County, where there is both a growing bear population and panther track sightings. The school is scheduled to open in August 2021. 🐻
Finance ○ Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to save money? Same. Check out these tipson how to choose the right savings account to fit your goals.💰Ⓟ
TheBuy ○Hey, meat lovers: Meet your new favorite delivery. With ButcherBox, you can spend less time searching for high-quality meat and more time cooking meals at home in the New Year. Bonus: Sign up and get up to 10 lbs of meatfor free. 🥩Ⓟ
Disclaimer: It is up to readers’ discretion to determine whether they feel comfortable participating in any mentioned events based on COVID-19 protocols and precautions. If you have questions, please contact the event’s organizers directly.