The Wellington Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon Wednesday, Aug. 28 at the International Polo Club Palm Beach featuring a “State of the Village” address by Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig.
Gerwig noted some of Wellington’s recent honors. These include being one of the “Best Cities to Live in Florida,” one of “Florida’s 50 Safest Cities” and Money magazine’s list for both the “Top 100 Places to Live in the U.S.” and “8 Best Places to Retire in the U.S.” These titles, Gerwig said, add to Wellington already being known as “the Winter Equestrian Capital of the World.”
“One of the things that we do is focus on the quality of life,” she said. “That’s why when I go anywhere in the country, or even in the world, I talk about Wellington, and I’m just very proud of the quality of life we have here.”
Gerwig spoke of how the village provides schools in Wellington with $33,000 a year to explore ways to assist students scoring in the lowest 25 percent for both math and reading. She noted that this has led to many collaborative efforts between local schools.
“The amazing thing to see is how they come together and talk about the types of things they’ve invested in, and the things that worked really well,” Gerwig said. “And once in a while, they’ll tell us, ‘We tried this. It didn’t really have the effect we wanted.’ So, what it’s really doing is having all of our schools work together.”
Gerwig shared about other education programs supported by the village, including Read for the Record, which Wellington has won two years in a row among other municipalities in the county, Civics 101 with high school students and the SWAG (Students Working to Achieve Greatness) internship program offered through the Community Services Department.
“We take six students from Palm Beach Central and Wellington high schools, and we place them in [different offices]. County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has gotten one of our SWAG kids two years in a row now, and they learn about the government,” Gerwig said.
She then asked a few members in the audience about their first jobs, stressing the lesson of how hard work and determination are important.
“I’m wondering if we couldn’t mix this up a little bit as a community, with the help of the business community, and offer every rising senior in Wellington a summer job,” Gerwig said. “I’d like to be able to embrace our youth. But I don’t just want us to look good — I want us to be good.”
Gerwig shifted to speak on other topics and updates. She explained how the millage rate and assessments planned for drainage are staying the same next year, and about the upgrades in process for Wellington’s utilities.
“Only about 3 percent of Wellington’s land mass is commercial property, and some of that is in our commercial park, so we are a little off balance,” Gerwig said. “We do have a vibrant work community, but I think we can do better and get some economic diversity built in, so we are not so dependent on the healthcare industry. We’d like to look for other things that would deepen our bench in terms of the economic environment.”
The luncheon was sponsored by Noreen O’Sullivan, a financial advisor with Prudential Advisors. She took to the podium and gave a presentation called “Solutions in Retirement Planning.”
O’Sullivan specializes in wealth management for individuals and businesses and shared her advice with the audience. “I would like everyone today to take one goal and make a plan to make a difference in their future,” she said. “It’s never too late, even if you haven’t started yet, and if you do have a plan, you should review it regularly.
O’Sullivan addressed issues such as the gifts and challenges that come with longevity. She explained that the once-standard concept of holding back four percent of income no longer works in today’s economy, as costs for items such as healthcare rise.
Also at the luncheon, Chamber President Stuart Hack introduced new chamber members, as well as the newest member of the chamber’s President’s Circle, Jessica Poveda of Grace Family Medicine. Her practice offers direct primary care services.
For more information about the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and future events, visit www.wellingtonchamber.com.