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Analysis lists Lakeland as the No. 3 'boomtown' in the country

City of Lakeland/Facebook

Of the 100 largest metro areas rated by Lending Tree, two other Florida cities made the top 10: Jacksonville was No. 5 and North Port was No. 6.

Lakeland is a boomtown.

That's according to Lending Tree's analysis of U.S. Census and other data. It says the city ranks third in its top-10 list of boomtowns in the United States — based on business and population growth.

Of course, Florida is the fastest growing state, with 2022 census data showing a nearly 2% increase in population from 2021 to 2022.

Of the 100 largest metro areas that were rated, two other Florida cities made the Lending Tree top 10: Jacksonville was No. 5 and North Port was No. 6.

Lakeland has seen a 118% increase in applications for new businesses, a 7.7% increase in housing growth and an 8.9% increase in GDP. It also ranked in the top five for growth in median earnings, at 16.3%.

It ranked No. 4 overall in the population ratings, with a 4% total population increase — including 15.2% moving into the city.

In the other categories, Lakeland ranked second for business/economy, and 19th for work/earnings.

Katie Worthington Decker is with the Lakeland Economic Development Council. She said more and more people are attracted to the city because of its affordability, quality of life and, of course, that old real estate mantra — location location, location.

"We have every major road network that pretty much goes through our area," Decker said. "And you have 18 million people within a four-hour drive of Lakeland."

That helps explain why the old pillars of the Lakeland economy — phosphate, citrus and tourism — have had to make room for logistics, distribution and manufacturing.

Not all of Lakeland's population growth comes from out of state. Decker said people are moving there from Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York, but some are coming from right next door.

"We actually have seen a lot of growth from the surrounding counties," Decker said. "So Orange County, Hillsborough County, I think some of that might have to do with rent increases."

Decker said the biggest problems facing Lakeland during this boom time are infrastructure like roads and a diversification of housing stock.

I started my journalism career delivering the Toledo Blade newspaper on my bike.
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