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Polk County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2004, the population was 524,389. The county seat is Bartow, Florida. Its largest city is Lakeland, Florida.


Polk County became Florida's 39th county on February 8, 1861, when the State of Florida divided Hillsborough County into eastern and western halves. The eastern half was named Polk, in honor of the 11th President of the United States, James Knox Polk.

Following the Civil War, the county commission established the county seat on 120 acres donated in the central part of the county. Bartow, the county seat, was named after Francis S. Bartow, a confederate Colonel from Georgia who was the first confederate officer to die in battle during the first battle of the Civil War. Col. Bartow was buried in Savannah, GA with military honors, and promoted posthumously to the rank of brigadier general. Fort Blount , as Bartow was then known, in a move to honor one of the first fallen heroes of the Confederacy, was one of several towns and counties in the South that changed their name to Bartow. The first courthouse built in Bartow was constructed in 1867. It was replaced twice, in 1884 and in 1908. As the third courthouse to stand on the site, the present structure houses the Polk County Historical Museum and Genealogical Library.


Polk County's economy has been historically based on three primary industries: citrus, cattle, and phosphate mining.

The discovery of phosphate rock in the Peace River, near Fort Meade, Florida in 1881, initiated the mining of the world's largest deposit of phosphate rock, known as the Bone Valley Deposit. This deposit, which encompasses approximately 500,000 acres (2000 km²) in Polk, Hillsborough, Hardee, and Manatee Counties, provides approximately 75% of the nation's phosphate supply and about 25% of the world supply. Approximately 200,000 acres (800 km²) or 15.3% of Polk County have been mined for phosphate rock. Polk continued to lead the state in 1998, with 14.7 million tons of phosphate rock mined. However, four straight years of low prices and weak demand for phosphate fertilizer led to a loss in sales in 2002. The industry's impact on the Polk County economy will continue to decline in the 21st Century as phosphate mining moves south into Hardee and Desoto Counties. Chemical manufacturing plants located in Polk County are used to convert the insoluble phosphate rock into soluble products, such as diammonium phosphate and monoammonium phosphate, which are used in fertilizers and other products. There are numerous, other industries located in Polk County which support and rely on the phosphate mining industry. In October 2004, IMC Global, Inc. and Cargill Crop Nutrition merged and became Mosaic Co. This merger created the world's second largest fertilizer manufacturer with annual sales estimated at $4.5 billion. Mosaic employs more than 3,000 workers in Polk County at five active mines, Four Corners, Fort Green, Kingsford, South Fort Meade and Hookers Prairie; and fertilizer plants, Bartow, Green Bay, New Wales (reputed to be the largest fertilzer plant in the world), and South Pierce.

Polk County has the 2nd largest amount of farmland in the state with an estimated 626,634 acres (2536 km²) in 2002. Polk remains the sixth most productive agricultural county in Florida . The $878 million citrus industry employs approximately 8,000 people in Polk County . Polk ranked first in the state for total citrus picked for the 2003-04 season with an estimated total of 42.2 million boxes harvested. Polk also ranked first in the state in the amount of commercial citrus groves with approximately 95,050 acres (385 km²), 2004 estimate. In addition to citrus, Polk was ranked third in the state in 2004, in number of beef cattle with an estimated 105,000 head of beef and dairy cattle, according to the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service. Total receipts from the sale of crops and livestock in Polk County rose to $284.8 million in 2002 based upon a report released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Tourism is a strong economic force in Polk County and dates back to the dedication of Bok Tower Gardens in 1929 by President Calvin Coolidge. In the mid-1930's, the late Dick Pope, Sr. established the world famous Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven , Florida's first theme attraction. Today, millions of people visit Polk County each year to enjoy these two attractions as well as Fantasy of Flight, the Sun ‘N Fun Air Museum, and many more. Polk County is also located within a one hour drive of the Walt Disney World resort area, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Busch Gardens. In addition to these attractions, Polk is the spring training headquarters for the Detroit Tigers (Lakeland) and the Cleveland Indians (Winter Haven) baseball teams. The county had an estimated total of 11,500 hotel, motel, rental condominium units and vacation rentals in 2004.

In recent years, Polk County has gained notoriety as a preferred venue for recreational and competitive sports on all levels. In 2001, the county hosted 140 sporting events that pumped in excess of $84 million into the local economy. This is in addition to $72 million generated by the Spring Training operations of the Cleveland Indians, and the Detroit Tigers. Polk County Sports Marketing, the sports marketing arm of the Board of County Commissioners, was honored as Florida's “Sports Commission of the Year” by the Florida Sports Foundation for its success in promoting the county as a sports destination.

Today, phosphate mining, agriculture and tourism still play vital roles in the local economy. However, the county has successfully expanded and diversified its economic base in recent years. The primary mission of the Central Florida Development Council (CFDC) since its formation in 1985 by the Board of County Commissioners, has been to improve the standard of living for the citizens of Polk County by diversifying the economy through job creation in all industries. The CFDC has successfully worked with other industries to help them expand and relocate to Polk County . Polk County's central location within the large Florida marketplace has attracted numerous manufacturers and distribution centers in recent years.

The housing market remains strong in Polk County, just as it does around the country. Construction is a pillar of economic strength for Polk County with a record of 5,900 total permits issued for single family homes in 2004. This is an increase of approximately 68.7% over a total of 3,498 building permits issued in 2003 for single family homes. The total number of homes sold in 2004, was 5,300, an increase of 7.8% over a total of 4,918 homes sold in 2001.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 5,206 km² (2,010 mi²). 4,855 km² (1,874 mi²) of it is land and 351 km² (136 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 6.75% water.

Polk County is the sole county in the Lakeland Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Adjacent counties

  • Lake County, Florida - north
  • Orange County, Florida - northeast
  • Osceola County, Florida - east
  • Okeechobee County, Florida - southeast
  • Highlands County, Florida - southeast
  • Hardee County, Florida - south
  • Manatee County, Florida - southwest
  • Hillsborough County, Florida - west
  • Sumter County, Florida - northwest
  • Pasco County, Florida - northwest
Polk County website:  http://www.polk-county.net/

Progress Energy 800-700-8744
Lakeland Electric 863-499-6300
Tampa Electric Company 813-223-0800

People Gas System Lakeland 863-686-3153
Central Florida Gas 863-293-2127

Polk County 863-534-6039
Lakeland 863-499-6300
Winter Haven 863-291-5678

Verizon 800-483-7762

Bright House Network 800-255-7856

Polk County School Board 863-534-0500

Colleges and Universities
Florida Southern College 863-680-4111
Polk Community College 863-297-1000
University of South Florida / Lakeland 863-667-7000

Bartow Public Library 863-534-0131
Haines City Public Library 863-421-8633
Lakeland Public Library 863-284-4280
Winter Haven Public Library 863-291-5880

Life Services
Sheriff (information) 863-533-0444
Fire (information) 863-499-2555

Medical Facilities
Bartow Memorial Hospital 863-533-8111  
Heart of Florida Regional Center 863-422-4971   
Lake Wales Medical Center 863-676-1433   
Lakeland Medical Center 863-687-1100   
Winter Haven Hospital 863-293-1121   

Driver's Licenses 863-499-2320   
Vehicle Registration and Tags 863-534-4700   
Citrus Connection 863-688-7433   
Amtrak 800-872-7245   

Local Resources
Post Office 800-275-8777
Homestead Exemption 863-534-4777

Business Resources
Bartow Chamber of Commerce 863-533-7125   
Lakeland Chamber of Commerce 863-688-8551   
Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce 863-676-3445   
Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce 863-293-2138   

Attractions, Museums
Sun 'N Fun Air Museum 863-644-2431   
Fantasy of Flight Museum 863-984-3500   
Explorations V 863-687-3869   
Bok Tower Gardens 863-676-1408   
Cypress Gardens 863-324-2111   
The Lakeland Center 863-499-8100   
Information courtesy of www.wikipedia.org/


Chris Frantz
Exit Success Realty
13111 Spring Hill Dr
Spring Hill Fl 34609

Hernando County Real Estate Florida


Exit Success Realty
Spring Hill Real Estate


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