Florida Trend Profile on Polk County Nice, But Needs Refining

It’s Polk County’s time to shine.

The June issue of Florida Trend magazine has pointed its spotlight on Lakeland and Polk County as part of its continuing Community Portraits series. Within this month’s magazine is a 29-page section devoted entirely to to Polk County.

Obviously, the point of these portraits is to paint a positive picture of the subject area, particularly its business leaders and economy. The writers and editors didn’t disappoint in our profile, opening up by mentioning our commuter residents who work in Tampa or Orlando before quickly pointing out that we are not primarily a commuter county.

Here’s part of the magazine’s intro to our area:

“Polk has its own economic backbone and a well-established business community committed to the county’s civic well-being that has provided a continuity of vision and leadership.”

The feature goes on to highlight successful companies in the county, break down our demographics, and mention some of the power players in the area.

But there were a few things I noticed that could have been improved.

As an employee of Southeastern University, I was proud to see us mentioned in the Education segment of the local economy. Southeastern was included with Florida Southern, Polk State, USF Poly, and some other technical schools. Noticeably missing, however, were Webber International and Warner University.

Florida Trend has made college omissions before, one of which put Southeastern on the negative end. In a recent issue that compared all the MBA programs in the state, Southeastern’s was simply left off the list. It’s like we didn’t exist. So I’d encourage the editors of Florida Trend to take a closer look at the higher education industry in Polk County, its much better than what they’re giving it credit for.

In the County Players section of influential citizens, I was pleased to see leaders such as Mayor Gow Fields of Lakeland, State Senator Paula Dockery, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. But there were some notable names left off, including Polk Tourism and Sports Marketing Director Mark Jackson, Superintendent of Schools Sherrie Nickell, and Rodda Construction President JR Rodda.

The list also included the heads of Florida Southern (Anne Kerr), Polk State (Eileen Holden), Keiser Universisty (Rebecca Rodgers), and USF Poly (Marshall Goodman), but left off were the heads of Southeastern and once again Warner and Webber.

I would have rather seen some of the names I listed above or those other university leaders mentioned ahead of other selections such as Kermit Weeks (creator of Fantasy of Flight), Ron Morrow (community liaison of CSX), or Cindy Price (regional manager of community relations for TECO). And even though I understand including the GM of Legoland, Adrian Jones, the park hasn’t even opened yet.

But overall, the Community Portrait of Lakeland and Polk County is giving great exposure to our area. I strongly encourage you to check it out, either by picking up a copy of Florida Trend or following this link.

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