Better roads. Better parks. Better community. Winter Haven is a vibrant community, one that has seen many exciting transformations. Our government has worked with businesses, community leaders and citizens to carefully plan for those changes. We are now poised to build on the successes of the past and continue improving our community.
Winter Haven’s high growth rate has helped fuel some of that success. Since 2010, the population has increased 26.4 percent to nearly 43,000 residents; since 2000, Winter Haven has grown 62% to place it among the fastest growing communities in the region.
Winter Haven is already one of the most desirable communities in the region with the beautiful natural resources and a diverse and growing economy. To maintain its position, certain smart investments are required.
We applaud the city’s leadership for developing a specific and targeted plan using data-driven analysis about the most important investments that will be accomplished. Here are just a few of those planned investments:
• Road resurfacing projects and intersection improvements along high-traffic corridors
• Sertoma Park, Martin Luther King Jr Park/Amphitheater, Northeast Complex renovations
• Neighborhood sidewalks Many of these public investments focus on roads and infrastructure, two critically-important factors in continuing the strong economic development of our community. Much like the downtown Winter Haven public improvements have resulted in over $50 million in private investment in recent years, we expect similar results with these new projects throughout the city. When the public sector leads with smart investments, the private sector tends to follow and create even larger economic impacts.
One valuable aspect of the proposed investment plan is to pay-as-you-go, rather than borrow funds. We feel this is a prudent approach. For the past ten years, Winter Haven taxpayers benefited from a low and stable tax rate, one of the lowest in the county. Even with the proposed one mill increase in property tax, Winter Haven’s rate will still rank among the lowest in Polk County.
We love our community and want to continue the progress that has been made over the past decade. Winter Haven has improved with these advancements, while still retaining the same character that makes our community unique.
Because investing in Winter Haven’s future benefits us all and is expected to lead to new private investments, jobs and economic growth and diversification, the Winter Haven Economic Development Council strongly supports the proposed millage increase to build on past success and make our community even better.
President Winter Haven Economic Development Council