Let’s Get to Work

Unlike the days when agriculture and phosphate underpinned the city’s economy, Lakeland’s business community is more diversified than it has ever been. Trade, transportation and utilities industries in Polk County are growing faster than the statewide average from October 2020 to October 2021. Other fast-growing sectors in the county are education and health services; mining, logging and construction; manufacturing; and financial activities.

In Polk, the highest-in-demand occupations currently are registered nurses, retail salespersons and truck drivers, according to FloridaJobs.org.

Many employers here are very eager to hire,” said Candace Franklin, community outreach coordinator for CareerSource Polk

Lakeland also embraces its new business owners in a variety of ways. From business incubators and co-working spaces to unemployment resources and business networking opportunities, Lakeland has become a welcome spot for those facing a new chapter in their career.

We offer a wide range of services and programs to both businesses and job seekers,” Franklin said. “For job seekers, we can help you find work through career planning, job search and assistance. Even if you simply need access to a computer, we do have multiple stations in our career centers.”

Franklin recommends job seekers start looking even before they relocate.

“You don’t have to wait until you move to Florida to get started,” Franklin said. “We recommend that you register as a job seeker at www.employflorida.com and add a resume.”

She then suggests calling CareerSource Polk to let its experts know you’ll be moving and would like assistance finding work.

Newcomers should also keep their eyes open for job fairs. Polk County Schools and Lakeland Regional Health often hold large-scale hiring fairs.

Below are some business sources, regardless if you are unemployed, being competitive or an influencer in the business world.

Local Business Support

New-business support: Business incubators can be found through Catapult Lakeland and The Well. The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce offers a New Business 101 CourseCentral Florida SCORE provides mentorship to those entering a new field or creating a business. The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce is in the process of developing The Works Business Resource Center to foster business education, pipeline development and workforce development. 

Shared workspaces: My Office & More, Catapult and COHatch all offer co-working opportunities.

Help finding a job: CareerSource Polk offers re-employment help. Top Buttons offers mentorship for at-risk girls and young women through the Wearing Confidence Program.

Occupational licenses/taxes/permits: The City of Lakeland has links to any licenses or permits you may need for your business. 

City of Lakeland Business Development Office: The city government’s Business Development Division provides a business startup guide and an overview of the city’s development review process.

Lakeland Economic Development Council: Though the organization’s name sounds like it’s geared to big industries and large organizations, the focus of the LEDC is expansive. While it aims to grow the business and economic landscape in Lakeland, the LEDC provides support for startups through Catapult, a food business accelerator program, microgrants and more. 

Unions: A variety of unions represents nurses, teachers, utility workers and more in Lakeland, including Polk Education Association and UFCW Local.

Business Networking: The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce offers a variety of networking opportunities, including Behind the Business, Leads, Small Business Council and Nod to Nonprofits. In addition, BRIDGE Local offers networking and support opportunities to members. 

Professional organizations: National Association of Women Business Owners Lakeland MetroEMERGE Lakeland for young professionals, Lakeland Chamber of Commerce

Business publications: Tampa Bay Business JournalFlorida Trend monthly magazine, Business Observer

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