As Polk County, the nation and the world continue to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, many are focused on recovery from the pandemic, including Polk State College and its community partners.
Polk State is proud to serve as Polk County’s largest institution of higher education, and the College is committed to the critical role it plays in helping to cushion the health and economic impacts of the pandemic through quality higher education, exceptional workforce training and powerful partnerships with industry leaders to ensure Polk State’s finger remains on the pulse of the community’s needs.
Polk State is thankful for pivotal partners including Legoland Florida Resort, Nucor Steel Florida and local healthcare organizations who continue to work diligently to contribute to the growth and economic development of Polk County. Through these unprecedented times and challenges brought on by the pandemic, these companies have acted swiftly to ensure health and safety, as well as jobs and educational opportunities for their employees.
Legoland Florida Resort led the way for the reopening of Florida’s theme parks and continues to serve as a local leader in the state’s top industry of tourism. Polk State and Legoland Florida Resort have enjoyed a longstanding partnership that supports educational and career opportunities, from internships and tuition reimbursement, to the Polk State College Network established at Legoland Florida Resort to foster networking and mentorship among the organization’s approximately 100 employees who identify as Polk State students or alumni.
“Our Resort’s reopening plan has been a success thanks to our dedicated and skilled employees, many who are proud Polk State students and alumni. We are committed to the health and safety of the community, as well as to bolstering our local economy,” Legoland Florida Resort General Manager Rex Jackson said.
“Polk State provides the support, education and workforce training our residents, businesses and community need to come out of the pandemic stronger and prepared for a brighter future.”
Polk State has also partnered with Nucor Steel Florida to train more than 40 employees to staff its Frostproof facility scheduled to open this year. The $240 million steel mill is one of the largest industrial developments in Polk County over the last several decades and will bring 250 jobs with average wages that are 166 percent of the average annual wage in Polk County.
“Nucor Steel Florida is proud to partner with Polk State to provide foundational manufacturing training for employees to fill the workforce needs of our Frostproof facility. The College’s state-of-the-art Clear Springs Advanced Technology Center and expert instructors are invaluable assets to the local manufacturing industry,” Nucor Steel Florida Controller Corey Allain said. “Our partnership has laid the foundation for success for Nucor Steel Florida and our highly skilled teammates in Polk County, and positively impacts the economic growth of our region as we continue to respond to and recover from the pandemic.”
In addition to economic recovery, it is also crucial that we remain focused on the health and safety of the community. Polk State continues to work closely with Polk County’s local healthcare officials to not only guide the College’s Return to Campus Plan, but to also ensure Polk State is providing the education and training nurses, respiratory care therapists, radiographers and healthcare professionals need to be successful in serving the residents of Polk County. The College is thankful to its local healthcare partners for providing clinical and career opportunities for Polk State’s health sciences students, and for all the professionals serving on the frontlines.
“Polk State’s Health Sciences programs have longstanding reputations for excellence and boast impressive graduation, certification and employment rates that reinforce the rigor and success in preparing students for careers in healthcare,” Director of Nursing Annette Hutcherson said. “Polk State’s expert faculty and staff, partnerships with local healthcare providers, as well as the success of graduates in all our Health Sciences programs contribute to the College’s prestige in the community. We are so proud of our community heroes.”
It is this foundation of excellence and success at Polk State College that will help to propel Polk County forward beyond the impacts of the pandemic. The College could not do so without the collaboration of its community partners. As President of Polk State, I extend my sincerest gratitude and strong support to our local industries, who continue to uplift Polk County and promote the economic development of our region.
Together, We are Polk and We are the Solution.
Angela Garcia Falconetti is president of Polk State College.