by Brianna Price
On Friday, December 15, City Manager Mike Herr and his team presented to a sold out crowd of Chamber members on the "State of the City."
City Manager Mike Herr began the State of the City Address by pointing out Winter Haven’s new marketing message: Winter Haven has been reinvented. Winter Haven knows a lot about its history, but also has a clear picture of the future. Our ability to develop our economy has a lot to do with our marketing abilities.
To Mike Herr, Winter Haven is the best city in Polk County and is the most dynamic city of Central Florida. Winter Haven behaves like a city of 100,000 in population. The expectations in Winter Haven are moving higher and higher, even though we are a city of 41,000.
3 Simple Rules for Economic Development
1. Focus on increasing the size of the economic pie, not creating new ways to slice it.
2. Focus on quality not quantity.
3. Don’t forget the Nuts and Bolts.
Collaboration is healthy! Together we make our City better and our partnerships are vital. Winter Haven’s collaborations are strong and they aren’t silent. When it comes to the City commission, they are focused on steering, guiding and setting priorities, and allow the City leadership team to work with employees as they row together.
Winter Haven must continue to be a vibrant business community
-Attract, cultivate and retain small to medium size businesses.
-Bring only the best and smartest millennials
-Cultivate and identify future leaders so we build leadership capacity in our community.
Mike Herr applauded the Chamber for it’s willingness to address challenging issues like education and then doing something about it to make a difference. Local control has to do with the community and caring about your community. “Winter Haven is on the right path. Keep going. Don’t let anyone say no to you.”
Key Project Updates with T. Michael Stavres
T. Michael spoke to give the community a sense of where Winter Haven is on game changing improvements. He spoke on the Winter Haven Tennis Complex Renovation, South Central Park Improvement, Lake Maude Recreation Complex, Chain of Lakes Field House and the 7th Street Corridor Street Project.
Winter Haven Tennis Complex
The Winter Haven Tennis Complex Renovation Project commenced in July 2017. The cost will be $2,677,317 and will be expected to be completed in April of 2018. The contractor for this project is Everett Whitehead & Son and the Engineer/Designer is Pennoni (Envisors)/WMB.
South Central Park Project
The South Central Park Improvement Project commenced in September of 2017 and is expected to reach completion in September of 2018. The construction cost for this project will be $4,444,444. The contractor for this project is Cobb Site Development and the Engineer/Designer is Pennoni (Envisors).
Lake Maude Recreation Complex
The Lake Maude Recreation Complex Project will begin in January of 2018 and will cost $4,410,441 for construction. The project is expected to be completed July 2018. For this project the contractor will be Mulligan Constructors, Inc. and Pennoni as the Engineer. This project will have a championship football field, permanent bleachers, playground, pavilion, youth sports program and a future event location.
Chain of Lakes Field House
The Chain of Lakes Field House project began in November of this year and is expected to be finished in November of 2019. This project will cost $22,500,000. The contractor for the field house will be Rodda Construction and Everett Whitehead & Son. The architect will be Struaghn Trout Architects.
7th Street Corridor Street Project
This project will commence in late spring of 2018 and will be completed in late spring of 2019. The cost will be $3,915,045. The contractor is yet to be determined, but the Engineer for the project will be CivilSurv.
Skate Park Project
The cost, commencement, completion, contractor and engineer are to be determined for this project. This project will help bring another form of recreation to Winter Haven along with the others such as water ski, wake boarding, fishing, boating and things of that nature.
Key Growth Benchmarks and Initiatives with Merle Bishop
Winter Haven is one of the fastest growing city in Polk Coutny. We have reached 41,000 population with a 4% growth rate over a year. The year 2030 can expect 60,000 in population. “We are booming and it is a good place to be.”- Merle Bishop.
Another incentive program was looking at economic incentives in the community redevelopment area. The City brought a proposal to implement economic incentives and created 5 programs. These are 4 of the programs and the incentives that they provide Winter Haven.
Rendering of Downtown Projects:
Winter Haven is seeing more opportunities for accommodations. LEGOLAND has given an advantage and opportunity to have additional hospitality development in Winter Haven. LEGOLAND has two accommodations, one being the LEGOLAND hotel and the other being LEGOLAND Beach Retreat. The Courtyard Marriot is currently under construction and two others hotels should be coming online next year as well.
Another new project coming online is Preserve at Lake Ashton. This will be a large mixed use development on the eastern end of Lake Ashton. It will serve as an adult living facility and is expected to start next year.
Key Best Practices with CIO Hiep Nguyen
Hiep shared with the crowd about the importance of technology and how it connects us. Even though technology can be disruptive, it changes how we do things in our societies and communities. We can either embrace the technology or be afraid of it. Connection matters! Technology is 90% sociology and it effects how people adapt to change. He shared that sometimes we have to change our mindset to realize the value of connectivity.
Dark Fiber Enterprise
Dark Fiber is excess fiber that connects our facilities together. It is fiber that we can lease out to service providers and then those providers can lease it to large businesses. All Winter Haven dark fiber is underground and has high speed capability. The fiber in Winter Haven starts out at 10 gigabytes and it is non-exclusive. We have 5 miles of dark fiber in Winter Haven and are looking to increase that number. It allows Winter Haven to leverage investments to connect fiber and cities together. Fiber is infrastructure for economic development, better schools and our future cities.
Where Are We Headed?
To be the most dynamic city we have to have an excellent leadership team. Mike Herr believes that we have an incredible and hardworking leadership team that is 100% invested in the future of Winter Haven.
In January Mike Herr plans to have a strategic session focused on the mission of it government. "Our values are important and we have to demonstrate those every day."
Here in Winter Haven, we should be creating opportunities for businesses to be successful. We need be thinkers and doers.
“At the end of the day, as city leaders, we are always champions for excellence. We must build a team for today and tomorrow, not just for next year. We must be bold, creative and confident leaders.” -Mike Herr