Lakeland City Visits, a program of our High-Skill, High-Wage Initiative, was created in 2005 when our HSHW representatives joined Tampa & Jacksonville Chambers as guests on their City Visits in 2003-2004 to Memphis & San Diego. The focus of this program is on High-Skill, High-Wage Jobs, Higher Education, Health Care, Downtown Development, Redevelopment, & Entrepreneurship. Our HSHW Investors have visited 12 cities and brought back over 17 new programs and initiatives to Lakeland.
WHERE WE’VE BEEN
BOISE, ID, 2022
Highlights of LEDC’s City Visit to Boise included learning about innovation in downtown development, collaborations between the private sector and university leaders, entrepreneurship & VC ecosystem, airport strategy, and how their foundational companies are continuing to pay it forward for the next generation of businesses, students, and leaders.
GREENVILLE, SC, 2018
LEDC’s City Visit to Greenville focused on its city’s strengths including downtown development, redevelopment and building the infrastructure (parking garages, etc.) to support growth in those areas.
NASHVILLE, TN, 2015
Highlights of LEDC’s City Visit to Nashville included meetings with Nashville Downtown Partnership, Developer Tour of the some of Nashville’s coolest neighborhoods including the Gulch, Germantown, 12 South, & Wedgewood Houston.
CHATTANOOGA, TN, 2013
Highlights of the visit included meeting with Chattanooga’s Utility, EPB, who offers the fastest internet speeds in the Country, and five of Chattanooga’s Foundations who have led downtown development efforts in the city.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 2011
Highlights of the LEDC’s City Visit to San Francisco/Silicon Valley include; Tours of High Skill High Wage Employers Facebook, Skype, IDEO, McKesson, Mozilla, IBM, Stryker Endoscopy & Salesforce.com. Education & Health care highlights were spending a full day at Stanford University & Hospital.
FLORIDA BIO TOUR, 2011
This unique city visit included a tour of Medical City at Lake Nona in Orlando whose key tenants include the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, UCF’s College of Medicine, Nemours Children’s Hospital, Orlando Veteran Affairs Medical Center, MD Anderson & UF research facilities.
SAN DIEGO, CA, 2010
The LEDC took a tour of Downtown San Diego with the Centre City Development Corporation, meeting with Mayor Jerry Sanders, EDC Director Julie Meier Wright, Developer Sharm Harmer with Urban Housing Partners, Bill Geppert with Cox Communications & Paul Jablonski with San Diego’s Metro Mass Transit.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE TOUR, 2009
LEDC’s City Visit to the Research Triangle in North Carolina included a number of tours and meetings with High Skill High Wage Employers including; IBM, Cisco, Cree, Red Hat, MeadWestvaco, SAS, Burt’s Bees & GlaxoSmithKline.
AUSTIN, TX, 2008
Austin included tours and meetings with the Downtown Austin Alliance, AMLI’s Downtown Residential Project, Austin’s new City Hall & Redevelopment project of a former power plant site, Eastside Projects next to rail, and the Mueller Airport mixed-use development project.
MEMPHIS, TN, 2007
Health Care was a major focus on our first City Visit outside the State of Florida including tours and meetings at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis Bioworks Foundation Incubator and School & Medtronics Spinal/Biologistics Office & Distribution Facility.
JACKSONVILLE, FL, 2006
Health Care was highlighted on our City Visit to Jacksonville with tours and meetings at UF’s Proton Therapy Institute and Baptist Health South at Flagler Center, the first Hospital to go paperless in the Country. LEDC representatives met with Developers at Flagler and LandMar who both have major land holdings in Lakeland.
ORLANDO, FL, 2005
The LEDC met with Mixed-Use Developers in the Thorton Park neighborhood, Office Developers Dynetech, Florida’s Interactive Entertainment Academy & UCF’s Digital Media Alliance Center. We also met with Orlando Centroplex Director Allen Johnson & The Orlando Magic’s EVP regarding plans for their new $500 million redevelopment project Downtown.
WHAT WE BROUGHT BACK
Catapult is a 501c3 non-profit entrepreneur center in the heart of Downtown Lakeland. Catapult seeks to facilitate start-ups and entrepreneurs through a collaborative workspace, mentors and educational programs. To date, Catapult serves over 80 local entrepreneurs.
CO.STARTERS curriculum was purchased following a City Visit to Co.Lab in Chattanooga in 2013. CO.STARTERS is a 9-week program that helps aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs examine assumptions and turn business ideas into action.
Launch was created to help Lakeland entrepreneurs take their business concept to the next level. Launch provides grants to entrepreneurs who fill out an application and can successfully pitch their concepts to Launch’s investment team.
INTRO TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Introduction to Entrepreneurship provides an in-depth, one day business training program for aspiring entrepreneurs. Participants are taught business fundamentals — customer development, branding essentials and basic financials, among other things — with a welcoming, hands-on and human approach.
POLK STATE COLLEGE ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAM
Inspired by the Entrepreneur Culture in Silicon Valley on a City Visit in 2011, Polk State President Eileen Holden returned home and created a Entrepreneurship Program at Polk State College. The Polk State College Entrepreneurship Certificate program is a course of study that offers both credit and non-credit tracks.
THE LEDGER – CELEBRATE ENTREPRENEURS
The inspiration came from meetings and tours with Zebra Imaging and IBM. The Ledger’s Publisher, who was a participant on the trip, started a “Celebrate Entrepreneurs” Series in our local newspaper. The Ledger continues to run feature stories on Entrepreneurs to this day.
YLakeland is a part of Catapult Lakeland, an initiative of the Lakeland Economic Development Council. YLakeland helps connect students and young professionals with the community and assets that make Lakeland unique.
SUMMER LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
The Summer Leadership Program was created in 2008. The goal of the program is to connect 18 to 30-year-old interns & new hires with each other and the community through a 5-week leadership program. To date, SLP has had 695 graduates from over 100 companies. Learn more here.
The LEDC started their an internal internship program in 2005 and to date have hired over 54 Interns. In 2013, Eileen Holden initiated Polk State College’s first internship program, allowing them to connect with local businesses and leaders across Polk County.
BUSINESS & Community IMPROVEMENTS
The LEDC worked with the creative agency IDEO and identified learnings, patterns and opportunity areas for Lakeland to explore and worked together to identify and prioritize a range of concepts from quick wins to longer term initiatives.
PUBLIX LED LIGHTING
Today, 75% of Publix stores use CREE LED chips inside the reach-in frozen food door case fixtures. These lights are motion activated and burn cooler and cheaper. 100% of Publix stores have LED lighting in their walk-in coolers.
MIDFLORIDA IT DEPARTMENT
Inspired by tours of Skype and Facebook on a trip to San Francisco/Palo Alto in 2011, MIDFLORIDA’s Steve Moseley came back to Lakeland and redesigned Mid-Florida’s IT operations on the 9th Floor of the Marble Arcade to look and feel like a Silicon Valley Tech Office in 2012.
In Lakeland, $10 million was given to purchase, renovate and equip a 40,000 square foot Historic Building in the heart of Downtown Lakeland on Lake Mirror. The restored facility, Catapult 2.0, will house a Commercial Kitchen, Maker Space, Coworking Space, Dedicated Desks and Private Offices for up to 300 entrepreneurs, and is scheduled to open in early 2020.
POLK GENTLEMEN’S INSTITUTE
The Gentleman’s Institute is the brainchild of CareerSource Polk’s CEO Stacy Campbell. The Gentleman’s Institute teaches young men about respect, integrity, manners, work ethic, etc. To date, 60 young men have graduated from the Institute and received training from over 30 faculty/facilitators.
LAKELAND FOOD TRUCK RALLY
High Skill partners were inspired to facilitate Food Truck activity in Lakeland following a City Visit to San Francisco where they contracted with Kasa Indian Food Truck, one of over 400 in the City, to cater their trip one night from the San Francisco Chronicle to Golden Gate Park.