Originally published in the April 2021 Edition of Polk FWD Magazine

As the Polk County population continues to grow, so does the number of businesses that want to relocate and expand here, bringing jobs, benefits and, in many cases, money to give back to the community.

As Polk County’s economic development partnership, the Central Florida Development Council’s mission is to attract new businesses to the county, marketing our central location and access to people, ports, airports, roads and rail to decision-makers around the world.

The CFDC continued that work during the pandemic, adding over 2,000 new jobs in the last 15 months, all of which helped reduce the 20% pandemic unemployment rate to the now 5.5%. That’s only slightly higher than the 3.7% rate before COVID-19 forever changed the way we do business.

Business recovery continues and resiliency prevails. Last year brought challenges and opportunities for countless companies. Polk businesses showed their resiliency, some helping smaller businesses by sending contracts their way, others adapting their routines to help manufacture personal protective equipment, sanitizers and face shields as the coronavirus took hold. They are nimble. They are innovative. They are resilient.

This year, we’re sharing their best practices in a series of webinars to help organizations that are struggling or simply want to continue learning what they can do to be ready for the next emergency. This is critical to our mission, just like helping close the deal that brought Nucor Florida Steel to Frostproof and collaborating with others to ensure Peace River Citrus Products stays in Bartow — and embarks on a $98 million expansion.

Polk County is home to seven institutions of higher learning, several technical colleges and high schools that offer academies to not only educate students in the core curriculum but to prepare them for life after high school. Education institutions building a strong, vibrant talent pipeline to fulfill local workforce needs.

In addition, our quality of life lacks for nothing. From highly ranked medical facilities that include three cancer centers, an abundance of recreational opportunities at our parks and lakes, affordable housing and year-round sunshine, you can see why we love to call Polk County home. Add to that increasing wages (4% over five years), no state income tax, incentives for new businesses that qualify and so much more and you get a picture of a great place to do business.

There’s a reason Polk County ranks among the leaders in everything from population growth to being a great place to live and do business. The Central Florida Development Council is here to help more companies relocate and expand, continue to diversify our job base and keep residents employed – all to move POLK FWD.