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Here's why Polk is the fastest growing county in Florida

A waterfront city is all lit up.
City of Lakeland
Polk County is the fastest growing county in Florida and the seventh fastest in the country, according to a study.

Polk is also the seventh-fastest growing county in the country, driven by a younger demographic, according to a study.

Polk County is the fastest growing county in Florida and the seventh fastest in the country. But one of the real surprises in a new study is who is moving in.

The United Community Needs Assessment Study was done by the Givewell Community Foundation in conjunction with United Way Central Florida.

The two-year study is full of information about everything from transportation to quality of life.

But what really caught Givewell President and CEO Callie Neslund's attention was the age of the people migrating to Polk County.

"To me, it was the demographics of the growth and that it was a younger demographic, compared to, maybe, neighboring Highlands County," Neslund said. "Their growth is 65-plus, and so it is the retirees who are coming in. Here in Polk, it's those young families who are relocating."

Neslund said that kind of information is really helpful in planning for education and child-care needs in the future. And, that's why the Needs Assessment Study was done, to plan for Polk County's future.

Neslund said the assessment didn't specifically ask why people moved to Polk, but focus groups found quality of life seemed to be a top motivator.

"There's less concern about crime in Polk County than there are in some of the neighboring areas. There's less traffic, which is hard to believe some days," Neslund said. "And so there's a lot of the amenities, the access to art and culture. The quality of life is appealing."

Neslund said the hope is nonprofits and government agencies there can use the Needs Assessment to plan for everything from education to transportation in the rapidly growing county.

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