The median household income in Lakeland is $8000 below the state average in Florida. Although Lakeland has seen an increase in job creation, many of those jobs have been low-skill and low-wage. Due to its proximity to Tampa and Orlando as well as its centralized location in Florida, Lakeland has been an attractive location for warehouse and logistics businesses for many years. While those businesses are a benefit to our community and our economy, we must look to diversify our local job market and attract a variety of businesses to Lakeland that will provide jobs in new industries and at higher wages. Lakeland is fortunate to have several local colleges and universities. Unfortunately, many of their students leave upon graduation in search of jobs that are not readily available in our city. I want to encourage new companies, specifically those in the technology and engineering sectors, to create jobs in Lakeland.
Although attracting new businesses to Lakeland is important, small business is the life blood of our local economy. Lakeland is home to an incredible array of new, creative and growing small businesses that add character to our city and jobs in our local economy. As a business owner myself, I believe there are always opportunities to make starting and owning a business in Lakeland easier. I want to work with both individual businesses and our local business organizations to develop better ways of doing business in Lakeland. More importantly, I intend to be a driving force within our government with a focus not just on ideas but on putting those ideas into practice.