POLK COUNTY, Fla — While Florida is seeing massive population growth, Polk county is growing faster than any other county.
“I have seen the growth here in Polk County. I’ve been here for 20 years. Since the last year or so I've seen an increase in traffic. When you go to the store the lines are longer, there is more people there,” said Yamira Bordas.
According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Polk County is the fastest-growing county in Florida and the seventh fastest-growing in the nation.
Between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, 24,287 people moved to Polk County.
“That’s roughly 65 people a day moving into Polk County,” said John Bohde, Director of Polk County Office of Planning and Development.
Christopher Alvarez is one of them. He moved from Puerto Rico because of the welcoming business environment.
"We came here on vacation while the pandemic was going, and we saw such a friendly environment. Just walking around seeing people waving. Small businesses were everywhere, so many opportunities. I was like it’s a beautiful place to expand our business, so we brought our business here as well,” Alvarez said.
Polk County commissioners and the Polk County Public School Board held a joint meeting Tuesday, to discuss plans to keep up with the rapid growth.
“Polk County has a school impact fee. That impact fee goes up again on January 1, 2023. It will go up to almost $9,000. The single-family residential growth or multi-family is paying an impact fee to assist the school board in constructing new schools,” Bohde said.
The school district has already opened three new schools this school year. The population boom also comes with the concern of available homes. There are 581 affordable housing units coming to the City of Lakeland alone, in the hopes of filling some of the growing demand for new residents.