Jim Bell, executive director of the Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, spoke to the Rotary Club of Lake Wales on Nov. 19.
Bell explained briefly how the EDC came about earlier this year. It is part of the Chamber and is a new way of tackling
economic development and creating jobs in Lake Wales.
Bell talked about Longleaf Business Park on the south side of Lake Wales. He said attempts are being made to revive the park, which he thinks will happen. One thing that has been done is changing the signs.
Bell noted that there have been a lot of contacts with Longleaf from companies that might locate there. He said two of them are “good.”
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” he said.
Bell was asked about the property across US 27 from Longleaf. Most of it will be groves, but 10 acres could be set aside for commercial use.
The executive director also talked about trying to revitalize downtown and improving the appearance.
He compared it to selling a house, saying “you have to have curb appeal.
He said there is “a lot of poor signage” in Lake Wales. He added that an old sign advertising color TVs at a local motel has been removed.
Mayor Gene Fultz and Lake Wales City Manager Ken Fields were asked about the Grand Hotel when they spoke to the club last month. Bell was also asked about the old building.
Bell said if nothing else he would like to see it painted and have the fence around it removed.
Bell put in a plug for the Chamber, telling the Rotarians that individual memberships are available for $75 a year.
In November the club gave paperback dictionaries to third-graders at two local elementary schools. A total of 121 dictionaries were distributed at Hillcrest and 120 were handed out at Polk Avenue.
It has been an annual project the club has undertaken for several years.