2021: A New Year With New Possibilities
by Kevin Kieft, President/CEO of the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and EDC
A new year is finally upon us, and with it comes new possibilities, both for our country and our little city here in Lake Wales.
The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will hopefully curb the tide of this deadly virus and help return a sense of normalcy to our daily lives—and with it, help set our economy back on track.
And, of course, our country has a new presidential administration. I won’t get too political, as I know the topic is highly divisive, but I am always excited for new opportunities and to see what new ideas will come about through such change.
As for Lake Wales, we here at the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council have big plans for the coming year. Here are just a few:
Big Events. Several major Chamber events have been re-scheduled. Our golf outing typically scheduled for the fall will be moved to the spring, either late April or early May. Likewise, our Awards Gala that is normally scheduled for the spring will be moved to the fall or late winter close to Christmas.
Ribbon Cuttings. We are still trying to plan different ribbon cuttings and after-hour events; however, we are trying to figure out how to do all of that safely. We recently hosted our first ribbon cutting of the year for RV Resort at Canopy Oaks earlier this month. Nearly 100 people gathered outdoors for the successful event, and we are excited to host many more soon.
Lake Wales Connected. Both Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency and Main Street Lake Wales are doing a fantastic job of moving forward the downtown area’s renovations near Park Avenue. If all goes well, expect to see newly-paved sidewalks and streetscaping to facilitate pedestrian traffic, outdoor dining, and public events.
Industrial and Commercial Property. One of our main focuses is property development for industrial uses or large commercial uses. Many of our industrial buildings are filled up, so our main priority has been scoping out properties with potential for industrial manufacturing and logistics, ensuring they have the proper zoning and utilities, and preparing them for use. This way, we can submit those properties when we have a project from the state or Central Florida Development Council. Like anything, if you don’t have the product, then you don’t have much to sell, and so we need the product.
Residential Property. Like any municipality, we want to draw in more residents because more residents mean more business and more revenue for the local economy. Not only are we are pushing for more development of residential properties within the city limits, but more retail branches with eateries and shops to offer a more immense span of options for people. Ultimately, we want to see what people’s spending power can do with more rooftops in a five-to-ten-mile radius.
Remote Work Opportunities. With people working remotely and choosing to move where they live rather than where they work, we are pushing for downtown development for amenity development to attract people who are willing to relocate here and they still work for a company across the state or country. We hope to reach out with quality-of-life issues that will help make Lake Wales stand out.
COVID Info. We hope to have our Chamber serve as a community portal for information, both for residents seeking the latest CDC information concerning COVID-19 vaccinations and businesses seeking loans and assistance. Hopefully, by serving as a clearinghouse for said information, we can help bring our community back to normal.