Last week, I visited downtown Winter Haven in Polk County. The town is brimming with newly renovated buildings filled with technology companies located right on top of Verizon’s telecomm switch and Internet fiber backbone. Restaurants and shops are taking root and the city’s parks are alive with lunchtime workers surrounded by public art and shady tree-lined gathering spots. All-in-all it is a very pleasant, energetic and up-and-coming locale.

This month’s Site Selection magazine highlights the role that 6-10 companies have had in developing this tech center in downtown Winter Haven. What is happening in Winter Haven is a perfect example of how a fast-growing segment of our Business, Financial and Data Services industry cluster, one of four clusters identified in the Regional Business Plan for Tampa Bay for high-wage sustainable job growth, can take advantage of world-class telecommunications infrastructure to grow jobs and business, and ultimately lead an urban renaissance that results in a quality community.

For example, the long-planned CSX logistics center, one of Polk County’s largest economic development projects in its history, along with projected surrounding warehouse and mixed-use development could create 8,500 jobs according to Polk State College professor as quoted in Site Selection. The Inland Fiber & Data Center being developed by the 6/10 Corporation is projected to eventually have a $100 million economic impact and create 1,200 high-wage jobs, he says.

I urge you to look at the following websites to see what is happening. The Six/Ten Corporation at sixtenllc.com; the Inland Fiber and Data Technology Park at  inlandfiber.com; and the Florida Business Continuity Center at fbccdr.com.

Combined with LEGOLAND which is just down the road, groundbreaking on the CSX Intermodal freight facility in Winter Haven and the Blue Sky incubators at USF Poly there is much to see and tell about Winter Haven. I encourage us to learn more and promote these successes that are happening in Winter Haven. These types of stories can really bring our Regional Business Plan to life.