Haines City

HAINES CITY, FLORIDA AT A GLANCE HAINES CITY, FLORIDA WHAT: A city of 24,000 WHERE: Polk County, near Disney World WEBSITES: www.hainescity.com or south to these other attractions.” But Javed adds that Haines City is also prim- ing itself for growth, both as a center for new businesses and as an attractive place to live. “We’re a hidden jewel right in the middle of the state,”he exclaims.“Our population is about 24,000, right now, and it’s projected to double by 2040.That makes us think about the future needs of our residents and also the future needs of our businesses, as we try to attract more of them to the area. In addition,we’re considered one of the most affordable housing communi- ties in the area. If you want to be a homeowner, this is one of the prime places to be.” Javed explains that the city is teaming up with its local Economic Development Council (EDC) and the Haines City Chamber of Commerce to attract more development.“We have an indus- trial park within the city limits, in the southeast corner of the city, and we’re working with EDC’s Site Readiness Program,”he says.“What that program does is show businesses that we’re open and ready for business and that we have the much needed infrastructure in place, such as utilities and transportation access.We’re in the middle of the state and you can prettymuch go anywhere.Highway 27,which is one of our main north/south corridors, connects us to I-4. We’re 45 minutes away fromOrlando Interna- tional Airport, and we’re 60 minutes away from Tampa.” “One of our biggest incentives that we try to offer is impact fee credits,” Javed continues.“We open the door to developers to come in and tell us how they are going to do things above and beyond the local standards to meet community needs, and then, based on that,we try to work with them to offer them credits. So, it’s less cost- ly for them to build the much needed infrastructure and at the same time it gives them the incentive to build more houses or bring in more businesses.”The city is also working with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to see about developing some of the brownfield sites within the city limits. Haines City is also working on revitalizing its downtown core, both to offer new opportunities for businesses, as well as create a more pedestri- an-friendly community.“We actually built the first ‘Complete Street’ in the county about a year ago,” Javed says.“We wanted to open up the community with all sorts of multi-modal opportunities for our residents, so you can bike and walk.We’re working on a Haines City trail system that goes straight through our downtown.We completed Phase One last year and we’re working towards completing Phase Two in the next fewyears.” Javed adds that that first complete street also serves as a gateway to one of Haines City’s premier destinations–the Lake Eva Event Center,which re- ceived a $30 million renovation about ten years ago. Located on the shore of Lake Eva, the Event Center hosts business meetings, conferences,weddings, receptions, banquets, and parties.The nearby Lake We have a lot of different things going on in Haines City. We’re at the cutting edge of going into this century with a lot of exciting opportunities. ADDIE JAVED PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR