Why Winter Haven?
Part of what makes Winter Haven perfect for business is the cooperation and synergy experienced among the City of Winter Haven and our partner organizations working to support business sustainability and growth.
Winter Haven is the heart of Florida’s Super Region, an area that generates $300 billion per year in economic activity. Our prime location allows for convenient access to two major international airports, the nation’s newest inland port and logistics center, and a population of 7.2 million within an hour’s drive.
Target industries are a mix of sectors that are best suited to build on Winter Haven’s existing clusters, unique assets, central location, and infrastructure so Winter Haven may strengthen key industries already present in the community, diversify into emerging industries, and capitalize upon near-term opportunities within the region.
Winter Haven’s Target Industries:
- Technology & Innovation
- Freight Transportation & Logistics
- Business Development
- Tourism & Hospitality
Winter Haven counts its medical and allied health organizations among its finest resources by being home to one of the most high-tech medical centers in Florida. As part of the BayCare Health System, Winter Haven is connected to a leading community-based health system, outpatient facilities, and more than 200 access points conveniently located throughout Tampa Bay.
Located in the heart of downtown and the centerpiece of a strong medical industry, Winter Haven Hospital has 500+ beds and 300+ board certified physicians who work in every specialty including centers of excellence such as the Bostick Heart Center, the Cassidy Cancer Center, Winter Haven Women’s Hospital, and a nationally recognized Stroke Center. Investment in capital and technological improvements is ongoing.
Bond Clinic is one of the oldest businesses in Winter Haven. Founded in 1948, the clinic has more than 40 physicians, encompassing 20 specialties. Gessler Clinic was founded in 1957 and has 39 physicians and four physician assistants/ARNPs covering 23 specialties. These multi-specialty practices not only offer core physician services to the Winter Haven community, but they also offer a broad array of other services to help address your personal health needs.
Technology & Innovation
The City of Winter Haven is home to a number of innovative software and information technology companies. At the heart of the City’s technology infrastructure are the Inland Fiber and Data Park and the City of Winter Haven Broadband Initiative.
The Inland Fiber and Data Park consists of two downtown properties that are the hub for regional broadband connectivity. The data park hosts numerous broadband providers, a secure data center, and numerous technology and software-related companies.
The City of Winter Haven implemented a “dig once” broadband initiative in 2004, where the City, in conjunction with other infrastructure projects, installs conduit and fiber whenever feasible. Now there is approximately 20 miles of City-owned fiber primarily in the city core that is available for lease to telecommunication service providers. Five percent of the lease revenue, along with a 5-percent-match from the provider, goes to a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) innovation fund, designed to encourage students to create business ideas. Additionally, using City-owned fiber, leased by a private provider; the City of Winter Haven Public Library was the first gigabit library in the State of Florida.
Freight Transportation & Logistics
Location and infrastructure are the primary components of a premier logistics and distribution marketplace. Winter Haven’s central location makes it ideal for any business that has an interest in accessing more than nine million people within an approximately 100 mile radius. Located 55 miles inland, protected from coastal storms, and with convenient access to interstates I-4, I-75, US 27, and the Florida Turnpike System, Winter Haven offers a protected and connected hub for transportation, logistics, manufacturing, and technology industries.
Winter Haven boasts as the home of the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center (ILC), the most advanced intermodal rail terminal in the world. With nearly silent, fully electric shipping container cranes, the ILC can provide shippers with a 40% savings over trucking, as well as the ability to increase efficiency by combining bulk warehouse, distribution, and manufacturing in a single location.
Thanks to our exceptional communications infrastructure and affordable labor pool, Winter Haven’s business community is thriving. Our innovative, high-tech downtown district continues to welcome an unprecedented number of new businesses.
Downtown Winter Haven is the heart of the City and reflects a unique and authentic historic character that has created multiple opportunities for businesses to locate and thrive. The attractive, walkable downtown is easily accessible with connections to pedestrian friendly sidewalks, trails and even a public bus terminal. Both regulator and financial incentives are available to new businesses locating within the Downtown Business District and the City’s two Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) areas.
In Winter Haven, we recognize the importance of a diverse and well-prepared workforce. From career academies, which expedite preparedness of middle and high school students with college credit courses and industry certifications, to Polk State College and Florida Polytechnic, the Winter Haven community is committed to producing and maintaining an educated, skilled workforce.
Tourism & Hospitality
Tourism is a deeply ingrained part of Winter Haven’s history and character, which creates multiple opportunities for hospitality related businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and retail. Winter Haven is the host city to LEGOLAND Florida Resort. Since the park opened their gates in 2011, expansion has been the name of the game with multiple additions. In addition to hosting the largest LEGOLAND Resort in the world, Winter Haven has also become an ideal location for sports, aviation and eco-tourism to thrive.
Winter Haven’s long-standing connection to the agriculture industry continues to grow and evolve. Today, we’re leveraging our transportation connectivity and industry expertise to cultivate niche specialties in biomass, agri-research, agribusiness technology, and food processing.
Agriculture and related industries provide great power to the economic engines in Winter Haven, in Polk County, and in Florida. Florida produces nearly 300 commodities during its year-round growing season. In Polk County alone, food and fiber sales total $4.5 billion annually and create approximately 35,400 jobs. The Florida Citrus Commission, the Florida Citrus Mutual Growers Association and the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association are each based in Polk County and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has offices in Winter Haven.
- Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce
- Winter Haven Economic Development Council
- Central Florida Development Council
Merle H. Bishop, FAICP
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