On January 20, T. Michael Stavres spoke to an overflowing crowd at the Endeavor Winter Haven Young Professionals Lunch and Learn about the successes of 2016 and the many opportunities and challenges facing 2017. Here are the topics and points that he made at the event regarding Winter Haven's growth and promising future.
Read about the presentation below or watch it from the video of the live feed below.
Winter Haven by the Numbers
T. Michael expressed the extreme growth that has taken place in Winter Haven in the past 16 years. In 2001, there were 28,000 people in the City limits. The service area i.e. area served by municipal water has also grown. Here is a look at Winter Haven by the numbers now:
A Look Back at 2016
In 2008 we had a taxable value of 2.2 billion dollars in Winter Haven. Here is a graph that shows the Taxable Property Value of the City of Winter Haven. The total decline during the recession between 2008 - 2013 was 33%. We are on our way back up as you can see and in March 2016 the cooperative annexation of LEGOLAND Florida Resort created a larger jump in annual revenue.
"We are seeing good growth in Winter Haven." – T. Michael Stavres
Winter Haven Building Permit Activity
The number of one and two-family home building permits was the highest in 2016 since 2007 (pre-recession.) Our building is starting to rise in Winter Haven and residential properties are starting to return. 17 commercial permits were issued in 2016 that had a value of $53 million. The growth is not in just one section, but all across the board. Residential building, commercial, hospitality, medical and more are beginning to have more activity.
How Have We Improved the Safety of Our City?
This is the list of highlights from what is happening in the past year with police and fire.
How Have Services Expanded, Changed and Improved in Winter Haven?
Parks, Recreation & Culture
What Have We Done to Stay Technologically Relevant?
Winter Haven has been doing a lot to stay technologically relevant! According to T. Michael, Winter Haven has entered into the Dark Fiber Enterprise. This allows us to lease out Dark strands of Fiber to businesses so that they can tie into our fiber network and get high speed connectivity. Also, Winter Haven now has a free Wi-Fi system called FLIP that is up in the Florence Villa area. This provides people/students of this area free Wi-Fi. Another way we are staying technologically relevant is through our public library. The Winter Haven Public Library is the first library in Florida to have Gigabit Connectivity. Winter Haven is working with other schools to do the same. Lastly, in the next two months, Winter Haven will have a new website for the city that is more enhanced.
Where Have We Expanded/Improved Facilities and Infrastructure?
Here is a list of improvements and expansions that have been made here in Winter Haven.
What Lies Ahead?
T. Michael highlighted some of the challenges that we face this year as well as the opportunities. These challenges and opportunities can be found under the categories of; Financial Resources, Organizational Transitions and Personnel, Water and Resource Management, Smart Growth, Capital Expansion and Maintenance and Partnerships.
Organizational Transitions and Personnel
Water and Resource Management
Capital Expansion and Maintenance
Winter Haven Tennis Complex
South Central Park
7th Street SW Renovation
Master Lift Station
Chain of Lakes Park Master Plan
Stormwater Assessment & Improvement Plan
Fire Station #3
Logistics Parkway Water Plant
Dark Fiber Expansion
Airport Entryway and Taxiway Expansions
Lake Conine Wetland Treatment Project
How Do We Collectively Progress Forward?
T. Michael uses the example of a ball of gears. "Winter Haven is a thriving medial community, it has great financial institutions, it has wonderful tourism and hospitality. It's education, its the college, its residence, its everything that we do is Winter Haven. Every one of those things makes up one of these gears in a much bigger ball and the City of Winter Haven is one of these. We are just one gear. When your gear turns, the city turns with it. Is our gear ready to move with that?"