U.S. News & World Report Names Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center Among Best in Lakeland Metro Area
Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center has been recognized as a Best Hospital for 2019-20 by U.S. News & World Report. Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center is ranked #1 (tied) in the Lakeland Metro area and ranked #21 (tied) in the State of Florida. The annual Best Hospitals rankings and ratings, now in their 30th year, are designed to assist patients and their doctors in making informed decisions about where to receive care for challenging health conditions or for common elective procedures.
Guest Blogger: Mark Wilson
Numbers can often tell a story. In this case, the numbers are 3 million, 4.5 million and 50 million. Florida Chamber Foundation research shows there will be 3 million more drivers on Florida's roadways by 2030, and that 4.5 million more residents will call Florida home by that same time period. On top of that, 50 million more visitors will travel to Florida each year.
Saddle Creek Logistics Services announced today that Mark Cabrera, currently the company’s chief operating officer (COO), will assume the role of CEO effective immediately. Cabrera succeeds Cliff Otto, who will retire at the end of July. The changes are in line with the company’s succession plan which was announced in July 2017.
Winter Haven Women’s Hospital invites you to a celebration recognizing the hospital’s recent Baby-Friendly designation, making it the first in Polk County! The Baby-Friendly Designation recognizes the hospital’s commitment to supporting a mother’s goals for feeding her baby and fostering newborns’ needs after delivery. The Baby-Friendly designation is a significant achievement and recognizes Winter Haven Women’s Hospital as a top quality facility with a commitment to providing optimal family-centered care to all patients, all of the time.
Tuesday, August 6 | 5:30pm – 8pm
Designation at 6:15 p.m. Reception and tours to follow.
Winter Haven Women’s Hospital
101 Ave O SE, Winter Haven
Light Food and Refreshments | Free Parking
A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure was recently named one of Florida's Best Companies To Work For. The annual Best Companies list is featured in the August issue of Florida Trend magazine. One-hundred companies are ranked in small, medium and large employer categories.
To participate, companies or government entities had to employ at least 15 workers in Florida and have been in operation at least one year. Companies that chose to participate underwent an evaluation of their workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. The process also included a survey to measure employee satisfaction. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking.
Chick-fil-a Winter Haven was awarded Small Business of the Month! Not only does this restaurant serve up delicious food, they also serve up community support and a spirit of giving back.
Advisory from: FDOT
SR 542 from 1st Street to Buckeye Loop Road: Expect nighttime/overnight lane closures on First Street at SR 542 (Central Avenue), from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Thursday nights, as crews install new signal bases at the intersection. Watch for nighttime/overnight lane closures with flaggers directing traffic throughout the remainder of the project as crews continue working on embankment, roadway base and installing storm water structures, sewage lines, fiber optic cable, lighting conduit and bases. Use caution and be prepared to stop.
by Katie Worthington Decker, President & CEO
On June 25 I attended the Tourist Development Council's annual strategic planning retreat. The Tourist Development Council is the statutorily appointed body of tourism professionals and government representatives that oversee the funds raised through the "bed tax" levied on guests at accommodations in Polk County for the purpose of reinvesting in the promotion, marketing and infrastructure of our tourism and sports marketing industry. In this article I'll refer to it as either the TDC or Polk County Tourism & Sports Marketing (PCTSM). The tourism/hospitality industry is a key driver of Florida's $1 trillion economy. Visitors to Florida contribute more than $12 billion in state and local tax revenue annually, and every 76 visitors to Florida creates one new job. In 2018 over 126 million people visited Florida, and 75 million of those to the greater Orlando area.
Polk County also benefited greatly by the expansion in visitation to Florida. According to Downs & St. Germain Research firm hired by the TDC from April 1, 2018 to March 30, 2019 Polk County attracted 5,070,400 visitors. This is the impact of those visitors:
So how did they plan their trip?
Sixty percent of visitors planned their trip over a month in advance. 74% did so starting with a search on Google. 37% spoke with friends and 32% used personal social media to either ask for recommendations or do research on their planning.
How did they get here?
Of the guests surveyed for the research study, 76% of those drove to Polk County. Of those that flew, 2 out of 3 did so into the Orlando International Airport.
Why did they come?
Of those surveyed, 17% were visiting Polk County to visit friends and family, 13% for a special event, 11% for an attraction, 10% for vacation, and 10% for a sporting event.
Where are the coming from?
Of the visitors surveyed, 53% were from Florida, 12% from the Southeast, 12% from the Midwest, 12% from the Northeast, 7% international and 4% from the West. Of the domestic travelers, 53% were from Florida, and the other 4 top markets were Georgia, Michigan, New York and Ohio.
Of those surveyed, the average travel party was 2.6people and 38% of visitors traveled with at least one person under the age of 18. The average age of our visitor was 47 years old with an average household income of $81,000/year and of those surveyed was 55% male.
Of those surveyed, 1 in 4 was a first-time visitor to Polk County and 36% had previously visited Polk County more than 10 times.
Where did they stay?
The average length of stay was 5.2 nights. 36% stayed in paid lodging, 15% stayed in non-paid accommodations (think friends and family) and 49% were day trippers.
What did they do when they go here?
Of the visitors survyed:
What do travelers want? They want an experience that transformed them in a way that’s personalized and becomes a part of their identity. They want something for Instagram that they can share and brag about. They want an authentic experience.
Looking at the fiscal year 2018-2019 (October 1, 2018-September 30, 2019) tourist tax collection continue to break records. Year-to-date revenues are tracking 4% over last year, which was already a record year including the increase due to Irma (think insurance workers, displaced residents, roofing and construction contractors). So in reality, this number is much higher.
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing with Life-Size LEGO® Astronaut Model
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort built something out of this world to celebrate and honor the 50th anniversary of the historic landing of Apollo 11. The theme park built for kids constructed a life-size LEGO® Astronaut model comprised of almost 66,000 LEGO bricks! In addition to the eye-catching astronaut model, LEGOLAND Florida also assembled a moon landing-inspired mosaic background built from more than 44,000 LEGO bricks!
On June 23rd, our very own Cypress Gardens Water Ski brought home the Southern Regional Championship trophy all the way from Sarasota! Since 2012, the Cypress Gardens Water Ski team has been competing in the Southern Regional Championships against some worthy competitors from Sarasota, Lakeland and Tampa. "We were competing against great teams, so it was a real honor to win." - Dave Dershimer shared. How did they bring home the gold you ask? Gold actually!
The Annual Meeting and Partnership Celebration of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF) held recently in Tampa provided a great opportunity to surprise Polk Education Foundation (PEF) Executive Director Susan Copeland with a special recognition for her volunteer leadership in the statewide organization.
On June 22nd, Webber International University sent eight members and one advisor, Joanne Muniz, from their Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) organization to San Antonio, TX for the 2019 National Leadership Conference (NLC) where more than 2,000 students from across the U.S. competed in over 65 events!
This six-day event was the culmination of a year's worth of hard work by Webber's PBL, who competed in District and State competitions at Valencia College and at the Doubletree Seaworld Orlando Resort, respectively, to earn their places in San Antonio.
Polk County Public Schools is opening a call center to handle school bus inquiries and issues for the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. Parents and guardians can dial 863-534-7300 for assistance from Monday, July 29 through Friday, Aug. 23. The temporary call center will be staffed on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.* Staff will be able to provide help with all manner of transportation questions, including student bus numbers; stop times and locations; transportation eligibility; bus delays and other topics.
Polk County Public Schools kept its positive momentum with another B grade in 2018-19, according to data released today by the Florida Department of Education. It was PCPS’ second consecutive year as a “B” district. PCPS had previously been a C-rated district for seven straight years.
“I’m absolutely elated by the news that Polk County Public Schools has maintained its B. What a fantastic day for our school district,” said Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd. “We are a district headed in the right direction, where academic achievement among our students is truly on the rise. This is a testament to the hard work of every student, employee, parent and supporter of PCPS. I am overjoyed and immensely proud of the progress we are making as a district. Well done, PCPS.”
Residential Lender Julie Whitmire recently celebrated her 30th anniversary at Wauchula State Bank. Whitmire is based at the bank’s downtown Lake Placid office, 102 East Interlake Blvd. “We appreciate Julie’s years of service,” said Wauchula State Bank President Donna McKown. “She has used her knowledge and experience to help countless residents acquire their homes. She always puts her customers first and believes service is our most important product.”
Webber International University has announced its intention to compete in Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse. While the first competitive match won’t occur until next season, the University is currently performing a nationwide search for head coaches for each team and is enrolling athletes interested in building the team from a development team to a competitive powerhouse.
James Sharak is the new Grand Knight of Knights of Columbus Council 7091 of Cypress Gardens. He presided at the council’s first meeting of the 2019-20 Columbian Year on July 9 in the Poinsettia Room at the Quality Inn/EconoLodge in Winter Haven. This represents a return to the council’s highest office for Sharak who served as Grand Knight in the 2014-15 Columbian Year. He succeeds Sal Porta who now serves the council as a Trustee. Other knights serving as officers are Deputy Grand Knight Scott Sharak,
Treasurer Jerry Melnitzke, Recorder Ken Nelson, Warden John Ondrovic, Advocate Ed Sheehan, Chancellor David Faber, Outside Guard Andrew Brownyard and Inside Guard Bob Bigg. Serving on the Board of Trustees along with Porta are Phil Pierpont and Ed Luteran. Ruben Sanabria continues serving in the appointive position of Financial Secretary.
Dieter Deussen and his five-year-old son Julian just completed the trip of a lifetime. In a span of 13 days, the duo from Germany visited seven different countries and eight different cities on their way to visiting all of the LEGOLAND® Parks throughout the world! “The key to this trip was to have fun and enjoy extensive time with my son,” said Deussen while embracing Julian. “It’s a memory that we’ll have forever.”
Boswell & Dunlap, LLP, established in 1900, is pleased to announce that Jillian T. Spangler has joined the firm. Ms. Spangler, a 2018 recipient of the Polk Emerging Leader Award, past president of the Rotary Club of Winter Haven and current chair of Endeavor Winter Haven, brings to the firm a diversified transactional practice in business law, corporate governance, commercial and residential real estate, estate planning and equine law. Jillian earned a bachelor’s degree in international business from Rollins College in 2010, a Masters of Business Administration, with a focus on international business, management, and marketing, from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in 2012, and a Juris Doctorate from the Stetson University College of Law in 2014. The firm, Polk County’s oldest, is thrilled to welcome her.
Webber International University Hires Program Director for itsNew Sports Performance, Health, and Fitness Program
Webber International University announced today that it has hired Dr. Carleigh H. Boone to lead its new Sports Performance, Health, and Fitness program on its Babson Park, Florida Campus. Dr. Charles Shieh, the University’s Chief Academic Officer and the Florida Campus’ Academic Dean, said, “Dr. Boone brings both a solid academic background and significant university teaching experience to the program.”
“When you give a child a chance to learn, experience, dream and succeed, great things happen! That is what Kiwanis is about!” according to Ms. Cynthia Rignanese. The Florida District of Kiwanis is one of the largest and most successful districts in Kiwanis International. Because of that, the Florida District served as Host for the 104 International Convention in Orlando from June 27- 30, 2019.
NASCAR driver Aric Almirola typically enjoys life in the fast lane. However, the two-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner and Florida native slowed down this week to spend some much beloved family time at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort.
Are you a small business owner who would love the opportunity to have a professionally filmed commercial to use on social media, but you just dont have the budget? Our Chamber member Dolphin Image Studios is here to help! They will partner with one lucky winner to produce, film and edit a short info-mercial or 30 second commercial at either the winner's location or at there fully equipped film studio right here in Winter Haven.
Florida Poly News
Stanley Pierre Gilles, 17, said he sees himself as a corporate lawyer when he pictures the future. At least those were his plans before participating in the second Summer STEAM Boot Camp at Florida Polytechnic University, designed for first-generation-in-college and low-income high school students in Polk County. “Normally I shy away from engineering and physics because I’m not that strong in math,” said Gilles, who attends Haines City High School. “But this camp has taught me that the most important part is not the math, it’s the details about the process.”
Florida Poly News
On June 23, International Women in Engineering Day will celebrate the achievements of women in the field and encourage more females to enter engineering and related areas. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Transform the Future,” a goal female students and faculty at Florida Polytechnic University work toward every day in the traditionally male-dominated field.