I like to Move It, Move It.

Photo Courtesy of TimeWarner.com

Photo Courtesy of TimeWarner.com

LEGOLAND® Florida plays host for a second consecutive year to Cartoon Network’s MOVE IT MOVEMENT Tour on August 9 & 10. The summertime traveling event targets youth 6-14 and their parents, presented in partnership with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative.

Activities include:

  • NBA/WNBA FIT & NBA Hoop Troop — kids can demonstrate their fitness level by testing their basketball skills and shoot against the clock for prizes;
  • The PGA of America Driving Range — updated to reflect the new PGA Sports Academy and its goal of developing young social and competitive golfers, kids are invited to drive the ball for accuracy and distance with The PGA driving range. Top scores are posted on the PGA Sports Academy leaderboard;
  • NFL PLAY 60 — kids can practice a variety of football-themed activities, including running patterns and passing skills;
  • Subway® Fresh Fit for Kids™ Football Sled Challenge – At the challenge, kids can learn the importance of piling the veggies on their favorite Subway sandwich, as they push a custom Subway football sled across the finish line.
  • Let’s Move!/PALA+ booth — a station set aside specifically for registration materials, nutrition tips and further information promoting participation with Let’s Move! and the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.The first 500 guests each day will also have the opportunity to win a pair MOVE IT MOVEMENT sunglasses after completing their ‘passport’ to each of the MOVE IT MOVEMENT stations around the park.


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A Visual Reminder of the Importance of Planning

A few weeks ago, City Manager Deric Feacher gave a presentation to the chamber’s Young Professionals Group on the importance of planning and being civically engaged in the process within our community. To kick off the presentation he showed a series of ‘then & now’ photos to illustrate how planning leads to what we see today. There were audible gasps from the audience at the transformation. At that moment, I thought it would be important to share . . .

How do these changes happen? It has to be a collaborative effort, and collaborative vision, between the city (staff and elected officials), private investors,  the business community and the citizens of the community speaking up for what they want. With all of the future opportunities in Winter Haven, we are at the crossroads of the next round of transformation. In your opinion, what should the collaborative planning efforts be focused on?

A visual reminder: 

Central Avenue before 2003

Central Ave Pre 2003

Central Avenue TODAY: 

Central Ave Today

Central Avenue corner lot before 2000:

Central Avenue Corner 2000

Central Avenue corner lot TODAY:

Central Ave Corner TODAY

Central Avenue looking west in 2000:

Central Ave Looking West 2000

Central Avenue looking west TODAY:

Central Ave Looking West Today

234 W Central Avenue before 200o

Potthast Studios before 2000

234 W Central Avenue TODAY (Potthast Studios) 

Potthast Studios TODAY

3rd St NW looking towards Central Avenue – before 2009

3rd St facing Central before 2009

3rd St NW looking towards Central Avenue – TODAY 

3rd St towards Central Today

Central Park before 2000 

Central Park before 2000

Central Park TODAY

Central Park Today

Posted in Economic Development | 8 Comments

Two Chamber Members named to Florida Trend’s Best Places to Work

Congratulations to Cross, Fernandez & Riley, LLP and Lanier Upshaw for being named to the Florida Trend Best Places to Work.  This list is compiled through a survey by Florida Trend magazine and is dedicated to identifying and recognizing Florida’s best employers in small, medium and large categories. The metrics include employee benefits and policies as well as employee engagement and an employee satisfaction survey.

Cross, Fernandez & Riley, LLP ranked #3 on the list of mid-sized companies (5o- 249 employees). CFR provides comprehensive advisory and compliance accounting and consulting services. CFR has offices in Tampa, Orlando, Lakeland and Winter Haven. The Winter Haven office is located in the heart of downtown, on Pope Avenue and was formerly Beckert, Price, & Rowse, P.A. (BPR & Company) and merged with C/F/R in 2008. BPR & Company was founded in 1980. With the addition of the Lakeland office in 2011, C/F/R is now the largest local firm in Polk County.

Lanier Upshaw Insurance & Risk Management ranked #31 on the list for mid-sized companies. Lanier Upshaw is a full service, independent insurance agency with a reputation for solving complex business problems. The company was founded in 1941 and they have offices in both Lakeland (1115 US Hwy 98 South) and Tampa. 

To view the full list of mid-sized companies click here.



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CSX Intermodal Facility Drawing Attention From Potential Tenants

Repost from Tampa Bay Business Journal

written by: Ashley Gurbal Kritzer

In the less than two weeks that David Murphy has been marketing the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center to potential tenants, interest has been high — higher than anticipated.

Murphy, a senior vice president with CBRE Group Inc. in Orlando, said he’s had calls from a variety of industries — third-party logistics companies, retailers and commodity distributors.

“These users are seeking us out before we even had a flier done,” Murphy said Friday. “We don’t have a completed marketing flier and we’re getting calls from users asking about this project.”

Murphy, along with Kevin Hoover and Monica Wonus, were hired in early July by Winter Haven Industrial Investors LLC to market the 930 acres surrounding CSX Corp.’s intermodal terminal, which opened in April and is entitled for close to 8 million square feet of industrial development.

The facility — which moves freight between trucks and trains, with five 3,000-foot loading tracks and two 10,000-foot arrival and departure tracks — has the potential to bring thousands of new jobs to Central Florida. As retailers scramble for the fastest deliveries in the ecommerce race and all industries look for every possible efficiency in their supply chains, more will be looking to rail, Murphy said, which can be more cost effective than other modes of freight transportation.

Behind the development plans is a household name in industrial real estate: Mike Mullen, former CEO of CenterPoint Properties, who has developed some of the largest intermodal terminals in North America, the Joliet and Elwood, Ill., intermodal facilities outside of Chicago.

The city of Winter Haven sold the first phase of the industrial park land to Mullen’s Winter Haven Industrial Investors LLC for $8.5 million in early July, according to Polk County property records. The total investment in the park, Mullen has said, is expected to be close to $400 million.

The first phase of the park, a speculative 407,400-square-foot warehouse, is slated to break ground in October, Murphy said. He said his team is targeting large industrial users, with space requirements between 100,000 and 500,000 square feet.

“We would love to have companies already in Florida locate at this facility, and I think we’ll see that,” Murphy said. “What we’ve really been impressed with is large, well-known companies reaching out to us because they have intermodal locations in other cities and understand how it works.”

Murphy said asking rental rates on the property are around $4.75 per square foot including taxes, insurance and common area maintenance fees. The average asking lease rate in Polk County is $3.99 per square foot, according to CBRE second quarter data, but Murphy said he thinks that new construction, combined with access to the intermodal facility, will have no problem commanding a premium.

“I think what’s going to make this project so popular,” he said. “There may be a small premium to locate directly at the intermodal facility, but it will not be cost prohibitive.”

See original article here: http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2014/07/29/csx-intermodal-facility-in-winter-haven-getting.html?ana=twt

Posted in CSX - Winter Haven, Economic Development | 2 Comments

Uncovering the values & priorities of our future

Last Thursday I had the privilege to be a participant in the Central Florida Regional Leadership Forum – Connecting Our Shared Values with Our Shared Future. This event was hosted by the Central Florida Partnership, an organization that describes itself as a “collaborative of business and civic leaders committed to procuring a better tomorrow for Central Florida’s seven counties – Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia.”

We all know how influential Polk’s location is in the future development of the region. Both the Central Florida Partnership and the Tampa Bay Partnership include us in their region when they are discussing how progress and development occur. To wield this power, however, we have to be part of the conversation.

Last week’s forum reviewed the findings of a multi-phase research project to better understand the hearts and minds of residents of Central Florida, specifically as they relate to the values, priorities and future of the region. This information is to be used as our region considers who we are, what our responsibilities are and how we invest in a regional transportation system. Some of the answers were surprising – especially when your world routinely consists of strategy sessions about the greatest issues affecting our area (and the subjectivity and perception of the greatest issues). Here are a few of the highlights as they particularly relate to Polk County. Read the entire report here.

Sample size = 1, 026 people. 102 of those were from Polk County. Average telephone survey length was 28 minutes which is highly unusual. It demonstrates the level of interest in the topic. Participants were asked a variety of questions meant to reveal their true priorities.


1. People are hopeful.

On every version of the question, 60% or more people think we have an improving quality of life, believe their own community is headed in the right direction and site more positive attributes than negative when asked to describe the factors that affect quality of life. Eigthy-percent (80%) believe the local economy is improving or remaining stable.

2. Perceptions drive priorities.

When the researchers asked the question “What are the most important priorities for our region” they were surprised at the outcome. In meetings with community “leaders” prior to the research, not one leader highly prioritized what routinely came back as #1 on the citizen survey:

1. Reducing Crime and Making Neighborhoods Safer

2. More jobs that offer better pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement

2. Improve Education

The top personal priorities were: 

1. Jobs and Employment Opportunities

2. Safe and Secure Communities

3. Traffic Congestions


3. Priorities 

Ultimately they determined that their was a unique psychological connection between how survey respondents answered this questions and their personal priorities. The “mind map” showed that people first acknowledge the factor that impacts their quality of life. They then look at the functional benefits of each factor and then the emotional benefits. That leads to the final value determination of the personal value associated with the emotional development. For example:

Less traffic (factor that impacts quality of life) –> Saves Time (functional benefit) –> Do Other things (emotional benefit) –> Peace of Mind/Enjoyment (Value)

Click to enlarge mind mapping


4. So who is accountable? 

The survey determined that people have specific perception of who is responsible for certain issues (independent meaning non-profit/churches/etc):

Who's Responsable


5. They want increased investment for improved transportation. 

Perhaps what was most eye-opening was how respondents are willing to invest in improved transportation (which is of particular interest with the My Ride/My Roads ballot initiative Polk County will be voting on this fall). According to the survey, the strong majority (76%) support allocation of tax dollars to expanding and improving transportation. Of the Polk respondents, 50% want that increase in spending to come from existing funds and 34% want it to come from additional funding.

Screenshot 2014-06-25 22.45.54




Posted in Perspective | 3 Comments

Furry Friends Week Profile: Veterinary Healthcare Associates

On day #4 of Furry Friends Week we spotlight Veterinary Healthcare Associates located at 3025 Dundee Road, Winter Haven. Opened over thirty years ago as Maxwell Animal Clinic, VHA has grown from a one doctor general practice to a ten doctor general, referral, and emergency facility which has a reputation in Winter Haven and Central Florida for high quality pet care. For this week long appreciation celebration, we’ve asked them to share some details about their business with the membership.

What services does VHA offer? 

We are greater central Florida’s only General Practice, Referring, and 24 Hr Emergency Hospital offering Advanced Diagnostics, Internal Medicine, Echocardiography, Endoscopy/Bronchoscopy, Spiral CT scan, LASER Surgery, Full In House Laboratory, Advanced Pain Management, Boarding, Medical Boarding, Grooming, 3.5 acre Dog park, Digital Radiology & Ultrasound, Critical Care, Chemotherapy/Oncology, Dentistry, Stem Cell Therapy, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

Tell us something not everyone knows about the practice 

Our mission statement is: “Helping People By Helping their Pets”. Veterinary Healthcare Associates has been voluntarily evaluated on hundreds of standards established by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)  http://www.aahanet.org/, to ensure that patients and clients receive the highest level of care. VHA has been accredited in general practice since 2009 and as a referral practice in Canine and Feline Specialty since 2012. Only 15% of animal hospitals achieve this credential.

What goals do you have for the coming year?

We plan to continue to provide excellence in our level of care, expand our specialty referral services, and have our emergency services surpass our clients expectations.

How can the public help VHA? 

We want the public to be aware of our referring and emergency services, even if they have a general practice they usually attend.  We ask that they inform us upon check in and we will see to it that their general practice receives a referral report to ensure the pet’s records all remain with their veterinarian. VHA also has a non profit fund called VHA cares  www.vetcarefoundation.org  if anyone would like to donate.

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Furry Friends Week Profile: Orchid Springs Animal Hospital

On day #3 of Furry Friends Week we spotlight Orchid Springs Animal Hospital, located at 615 Overlook Drive, Winter Haven. Orchid Springs was established in Winter Haven in 1996 by Dr. Mitsie Vargas. By 2002, the practice had greatly grown and Dr. Vargas expanded into a five thousand square-foot facility that includes a bone-shaped pool that was used for exercise, rehabilitation therapy and entertainment. In 2008, she further remodeled the original building to make room for a larger treatment area and added the luxury boarding rooms around the pool known as “The World Suites”. In 2014, a second veterinarian joined the staff, Dr. Laura Moisa, who is a native Winter Havenite. For this week long appreciation celebration, we’ve asked them to share some details about their business with the membership.

1. What services does Orchid Springs Animal Hospital offer?

Traditional medical services, general surgery acupuncture, aquapuncture, holistic medications, physical therapy, canine massage, comprehensive dentistry services, wellness plans, boarding, daycare and grooming, We also see exotic pocket pets.

2. Tell us something not everyone knows about the practice.

What someone may not know is that we actively promote the veterinary profession and encourage education of all our employees. Not only do we offer continuing education and skill development opportunities but Dr. Vargas sits on the FVMA veterinary technician committee as well. Dr. Vargas is also a recent addition to the Humane Society of Polk County Board of Directors.

3. What goals do you have for the coming year? 

Our goal is to solidify our presence in the community as a one-stop pet center for all of your pet’s needs.

 We also want to make people aware of our “We Love Pets Fund.” This fund was set up to help stray, abused and abandoned animals, as well as owners that are in a financial crisis, get the medical attention for their pets that need it. Tax deductible donations can be made at www.vetcarefoundation.org. Log onto the website and select Orchid Springs Animal Hospital and your donation will be made to this special fund. For more information please contact Orchid Springs Animal Hospital at 863-324-6964.



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Furry Friends Week Profile – Humane Society of Polk County, Inc.

During our Furry Friends week we have several partners that serve man’s best friend. Our first weekly profile is for the Humane Society of Polk County, Inc., Polk County’s only no-kill shelter. Right now they are located on 555 Sage Road, just off of Dundee Road, but they have outgrown that space and are beginning renovations on the former Warehouse Outlet store to become their new, state-of-the-art, eco-conscience animal shelter. We asked them to share some info on themselves with our membership.

What services do you provide to the Polk County community?

Adoptions of family pets.  Cats, dogs, birds and small mammals

Animal Surrenders when you are unable to keep your pet.

Help with rehoming pets if there is no room at the shelter you can place your pet for adoption on our website until space becomes available at the shelter.

Match a Pet Program if you are looking for a specific breed you can leave your information and when that breed becomes available we will contact you.

SNIP Spay/Neuter Inoculation Program for low income families only at $20 per pet.

Paws to Read School reading program

Paws to Heal  therapy dogs visit local nursing home/assisted living centers for a healing paw.

Dog Obedience & Agility Training

Therapy Dog Certification

Volunteer & Educational programs

What is something about the HSPC that many people may not be aware of? 

We have partnered with Elbert Elementary School for the last five years providing all the students in the third grade our Paws to Read program once a week, every week.  During this program Paws to Read Therapy dogs sit with the children while the kids read them stories to improve their reading skills. This is not only a fabulous way to help improve the students reading skills, but also aides in forming friendships and mentoring children to become our future leaders focusing on compassion to our community’s pets.

What are the goals for the upcoming year? 

Our goal for the upcoming year is to complete renovations and move into our new state-of-the-art animal sanctuary.  This will enable us to further assist Polk County Animal Control when they need space for cruelty cases.  It will also allow us to assist members of our community who live in mobile home parks with a safe haven for their pets in times of disaster, increase adoptions, spays and neuters and so much more!

What ways can people get involved with the Humane Society? 

We are always in need of volunteers.  This is a great way to help if you can’t have a pet where you live.  Our babies always enjoy the extra TLC our volunteers provide.  You can help by donations of supplies and or cash.  With our new building we will have plenty of naming opportunities if you are interested in leaving a lasting legacy please call the shelter at 863-324-5227 and speak to Lisa.

During the chamber’s donation drive the week of June 16 – June 20 the following items can be donated at the chamber lobby from 9 a.m. – 4 pm. :

HP printer ink  60XL, HP 23 & 15, HP 97 & 99

Dryer sheets

Kitten food

Cat hairball formula food

Dog harnesses

Dog collars/gentle leaders all sizes

Dog toys especially kongs, squeaky toys, stuffed animals, puzzle balls, tug ropes and others new or slightly used

Hot dogs, cheese

Old towels, blankets, bath mats and soft doormats

New or used leashes and flat leather or nylon collars

Cat toys, scratching posts, kitty grass and catnip

Cat and dog beds

Copy paper

Powder laundry detergent

Tall kitchen trash bags

30 gallon trash bags

Dish soap

Heartgard (all sizes)

Frontline spray

Advantix (all sizes)

Paper towels


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Furry Friends Week Profile – Dunham Animal Hospital

During our Furry Friends week we have several partners that serve man’s best friend. Our second profile this week is for the Dunham Animal Hospital & Bird Clinic located at 3201 Recker Highway, Winter Haven, FL 33880. Dunham Animal Hospital was established in 1981 and has been caring for the pets of Winter Haven ever since. For this week long appreciation celebration, we’ve asked them to share some of their information with our membership.

What services do you provide to the Polk County community?

We offer comprehensive and preventative care for most animals. This includes most surgeries, vaccinations, dental care, endoscopy, ultrasound procedures, laser surgery, chemotherapy, geriatric care and radiology.

What is something about Dunham Animal Hospital that many people may not be aware of? 

Not everyone knows that we treat birds and reptiles in our practice. We also provide wellness plans for puppies, kittens, and adult animals starting at $19.00 a month that includes all exams/office calls, vaccinations, and a lab profile yearly. Some plans provide for dental care and x-rays as well and we also finance most procedures if needed.

We have digital x-ray machines for routine radiographs as well as a digital dental x-ray unit.

What are the goals for the upcoming year? 

Some of our goals for the year would be to expand our wellness plans with some new procedures added to the plans. I would like to finish the remodeling of our office as soon as possible and to upgrade our computer system.

We believe in supporting local business and hope the public will do the same – support the ones that live and work in the Winter Haven area. We know this is not possible all the time but always think local first.


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Now accepting nominations for the 2014 Polk Emerging Leaders Awards

Now accepting nominations for the 2014 Polk Emerging Leaders Awards

For the first time, the annual Polk Emerging Leaders Awards will be a collaborative event of the three young professional groups in Polk County – Emerge Lakeland, Engage Bartow and the Winter Haven Young Professionals Group. Ushering in a new era of collaboration and blurring the east/west dividing line, the awards have been established to annually recognize five young professionals between age 21-42 who have made significant contributions and commitment to the Polk County community. The awards will be given on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at the Bartow Civic Center.

To nominate an individual, please download the nomination form here and email it to info@polkemergingleaders.org. Nominations must be received by July 3, 2014.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Explore the opportunities here.


The Polk Emerging Leaders Awards are open to individuals between the ages of 21- 42 who live or work in Polk County. Eligible applicants must have lived or worked in Polk County for at least one year. Self-nominations will be accepted. Once nominations are received applications will be emailed directly to the nominee.

Entry Fee:

There is no entry, nomination or application fee.

To Apply:

Only one application per person will be accepted. Download the application here.

If downloading the application, please submit the application, your resume and a preferred head shot or photo via e-mail to info@polkemergingleaders.org by July 21, 2014.

A completed application includes:

Resume or Biography including photograph
Letters of recommendation (no more than 3) - optional

Award Selection:

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges, made up of five established business and community leaders. Applicants will be judged based on the applicant’s answers to each question, level of achievement, demonstrated leadership and community impact. If additional information is needed, we will contact the applicant individually. Award winners will be announced at the event on August 20, 2014 at the Bartow Civic Center.




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