Economic yearbook 2011
Lakeland / polk County
|Polk Population: 599,856|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.13%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $32,620|
Unemployment is still too high, says Steve Scruggs, executive director of the Lakeland Economic Development Council, but Polk County's economy is still looking a lot better than it did in 2010. "The last four to five weeks have been great for us," Scruggs says. "We've got about nine projects we're working on right now. This is the busiest we've been in a long time — two years I would say."
Greg Ruthven, president of The Ruthvens, a real estate and development firm in Lakeland, says he's "happy to kiss 2010 goodbye."
"From August to November last year, the phone was dead, but we have seen a dramatic pickup since the first of the year," Ruthven says. "We signed a lease every day the first week in January, and I don't sign leases five days a week very often. I think we're finally starting to spin out of the recession."
Other positive signs: The planned opening this year of Legoland Florida on the site of the old Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven and the continued development of USF Polytechnic in Lakeland. Claudia Tritton, the economic council's business development director, says another "positive indicator" is Publix announcing plans to double the size of a 550,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in west Lakeland.
|Pasco Population: 494,690|
|Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 1.86%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $28,915|
John Hagen, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, says businesses are positioning themselves to grow as the economy improves this year. Some promising companies to watch include Dais Analytic, Pharmaworks, FreightCenter, The Launch Pad and Web Direct Brands. To help them grow, Hagen says the council is stepping up its economic gardening initiatives, including working to establish a "revolving loan fund" for companies needing money to expand and create jobs. "As the economy turns around, growth is going to be coming to Pasco County, just as it was growing before the recession," Hagen says. "As long as we get our business regulatory environment in order — how we manage permits and zoning — we think we're going to see strong growth here."