The temperature isn’t the only thing hot in Polk County right now. | Gif via GIPHY
Just this week, Amazonsigned a lease for a 700,000 sq. ft. space in Lakeland, and in Auburndale, the tech company is planning to hire 500 new jobs at its upcoming 1 million sq. ft. facility. Along with Amazon, IKEA, Pepsi, Walmart have also opened up warehouses in Polk over the past couple of years.
We’ve known for a while that our little I-4 corridor is quite the gem, but what makes it so unique? And why are so many companies racing to the area?
According to industry experts, there are several theories – andall of them have to do with three words:Location, location, location.
1. Proximity. They don’t call us Orlampa for nothin’. Polk County is nearly smack dab in between Tampa + Orlando, giving retailers access to customers (and potential customers).
2. Inventory. There’s plenty of room to build. While Polk County still stands as a leader in the citrus industry, the greening disease has wiped out some of the groves, permitting opportunity to “cash in on Polk’s location.”
3. Population. Along Polk’s I-4 stretch, it’s estimated that over 8 million people live within a 100-mile radius. Industry leaders also suggest that the area has “an appropriate labor force.”
So, in the midst of this “boom,” what exactly are the impacts of warehouse development + growth on Lakeland’s local economy?
Quoteworthy: “The impact is pretty tremendous. These developments result in new jobs for Lakelanders and they provide a significant increase to Lakeland’s overall tax base. Having inventory in our market is important and allows us to attract new industry here. It also helps that the City will gain a new electric and water user.”– Ashley Creek, VP of Business Development, LEDC
If you’re looking to stay up-to-date on development activity in the city, click the button below.
#ProTip: Forward this newsletter to a friend who: a) is looking for a job in Polk, b) has Amazon Prime bookmarked, or c) is excited about the city + county’s growth.
Weather ○89º | PM Thunderstorms | 90% chance of rain ○ Bananarama got it right when they said it was a “cruel, cruel summer.” Meteorologists reported that it was one of the hottest summers on recordfor the Tampa Bay area – including Lakeland. This is, in part, due to a rather differing rain season in the area.🥵 (WFLA News Channel 8)
Asked ○Calling all local realtors. We’re putting together a list of houses on the market with great patios/porches. Do you have a listing you think we’d love?Send us an email + show us what you’ve got.
TryThis ○Dead or alive, Silver Moon Drive-In (4100 New Tampa Hwy.) is looking for zombies. The 70+ year-old theatre has issued a casting call with hopes to find spooky volunteers to film for promotional content for the Halloween season. Filming takes place on Sept. 16, directly after regular screenings end and lasts until Thursday morning (approximately 12 a.m.-3 p.m.). Slide into Silver Moon’s Facebook DM’s if you can dead-icate some time to this. 🧟
Answered ○ “Do you know what the status of Biscuits & Benedicts is on S. FL?” – Reader Susan U. ICYMI: Biscuits & Benedicts, modeled after the Denver Biscuit Company, is coming to the former Nineteen61 location (1212 S. Florida Ave.). According to the owner, James Kerr, the restaurant is currently in its permit staging, so that the buildout can get finished. We’ll update you as we know more, but until then, we’ll be dreaming about biscuits stacked high, smothered in “decadent hollandaise” or vegan gravy.
Dish ○ RSVP by 11 p.m. tonight to whip it up in the kitchen with Nineteen61’s Chef Marcos, for a special cooking class. Cook for a Cause ($55) takes place Tues., Sept. 15 via Zoom + proceeds benefit The Alpha Project – a nonprofit that assists in maintaining the physical + mental health for active-duty first responders + post-9/11 combat-wounded special operators. The menu includes a meal kit for two, with ingredients for Nineteen61’s salad, ropa vieja + mug cake. #ProTip: Pair it with a to-go drink from Bar61, like a Passion Fruit Margarita.
Stat ○ In Polk County’s 33880 zip code, there are 3,038 children living in poverty(that’s nearly a 30% under-19 poverty rate). This information was found on The Florida Chamber’s new Florida Gap Map, which is the first tool in the US to show childhood poverty rates + third-grade reading level in every zip code around the state. The purpose of the map is to educate business leaders + community leaders about schools around the area + to help put a focus on what can be done at the school level to ensure a child’s future trajectory.
Civic ○ As Circuit Judge John Stargel has headed to FL’s Lakeland-based 2nd District Court of Appeal, a vacancy is left open to replace his former seat as the Bartow-based 10th Judicial Circuit. So far, six people have been nominated to the position – including three Polk County judges + three private lawyers.🧑⚖️ (The Ledger)
Number ○ $1.9 billion. That’s how much money will be in the district’s 2020-21 school year budget, after the Polk County School Board unanimously passed it earlier this week. $33.5 million in CARES Act funding is included additionally, which the district says will be shared with private + charter schools(that educate public school students) and will help with teacher salaries. Last year’s funding was $784.2 million.(The Ledger)
FBF ○ For a rootin’, tootin’ good time, check out this video of the lost Florida attraction, Six Gun Territory – a 200-acre amusement park in Ocala, themed after the Wild West. Back in the hay day (1960’s-1980s), visitors could take a steam ride train through the town, watch “gunfights,” visit the saloon, and more. 🤠 (Only In Your State)
Dish ○A recent edition of Foodie Friday – the video series where Southern Homes shares cooking-at-home tips from their quaran-team – featuresvegetarian pasta, a go-to recipe for Director of Marketing Ashley Link and her family. 😋 Ⓟ
Events ○ First Responders Appreciation Weekend| Fri., Sept. 11 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Lakeland Harley-Davidson | 4202 Lakeland Hills Blvd. | Prices Vary | Free t-shirt with any test drive. ○ Brewers Guild Meeting| Sat., Sept. 12 | 3-6 p.m. | Virtual | Free | Meet with other local homebrewers to discuss making better beer. ○ Goat Yoga| Sun., Sept. 13 | 9:30-10:30 a.m. | Monarchs & Miracles Farm | 1385 Ewell Rd. | $25 | #ProTip: Bring a closed-back shirt in case a goat jumps on you. 🐐
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.
Did you hear the one about the deputy + the gator? 🐊
Deputy Trexler from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) recently responded to a call from someone who reported that there was an alligator in their storage shed.
Springing into action, the PSCO Deputy located the infiltrator which turned out to actually be an inflatable pool float, in the shape of an alligator.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the gator has been returned to its natural habitat – a swimming pool.
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○ City of Lakeland officials are asking for input from local banks to determine whether or not to allow flexibility when it comes to wearing a mask inside bank branches. On Sept. 21, City commissioners will discuss the issue more in-depth. (News Channel 8)
○ Data from Feeding America shows that there was nearly a 14% food insecurity rate in Polk County in 2018 – before the pandemic. According to The Patch, this could trend upwards to 19.8% this year. Check out this list of local food pantries + services for help with food assistance.
○ The City of Winter Haven is planning to extend its mask ordinance for an additional 30 days. Officials have also discussed ways to transition from an ordinance to more of a “direction,” encouraging citizens to wear masks. (The Ledger)
○ On Thursday, the Florida Department of Healthannounced2,583 new cases of COVID-19 and 211 additional deaths in Florida. That brings the total number of cases in FL of COVID-19 to 654,731 + the total deaths to 12,326. You can find more updates on the Florida Department of Health dashboard. See Lakeland numbers here.
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#TodayIs the 19th anniversary of September 11, 2001, when 2,996 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. To commemorate that day, we asked to hear your stories – where you were, what you recall, or if it’s impacted your life directly. Here’s what some of you had to say. ⬇️ (Note: These responses have been condensed + edited for brevity and clarity.)
• “Saw it all from my living room windows and on the concourse below my apartment, less than a mile across from where it happened. I was supposed to be over in the Big Apple close to the Twin Towers, but traffic jams barred getting across the bridges into Manhattan, so [I] watched in shock from just across the Hudson River, including the collapse of both Twin Towers. I was just about to need to leave for Manhattan and had I left a couple of minutes earlier, I would have been in the thick of that historic attack.” – Reader Tom L.
• “I moved to Frostproof going on 12 years ago, and my last job was for a contractor out of NYC. I was on the phone with a lady, and she had her radio on in the background in her office when the first plane hit real-time. We continued business, sort of, listening on and off. As time went on, things were changing, as more information was flooding in locally in NYC. Our boss suspended our business and sent us home. Our business partners in NYC were killed that day, I had not met them, but all our top brass had been there many times. I was home for four days staring at the TV over and over and over in a trance…” – Reader Linda O.
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