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Polk County, Florida


constant population growth


new residents in 2022


new homes constructed in 2022


building inspections performed


Effectively managing record growth in a geographically large county while supporting numerous cities and municipalities.

Goals were:

  • Reducing costs
  • Increasing staff efficiency
  • Improving CSAT
  • Decreasing permitting complexity


Form a unique partnership with cities and municipalities to share resources and adopt a unified solution, Accela, for permitting and planning. This collaboration streamlined operations, increased efficiency, and provided a consistent and improved experience for citizens interacting with their government.


Polk County has built a successful growth management model and partners with more than half of its cities and municipalities to support their building and planning needs through Accela adoption.

  • Constant 5% population growth
  • 32,000 new residents in 2022
  • 12,000 new homes constructed in 2022
  • 220,000 building inspections performed
  • Digital permit applications increased from 10% of the total intake to 90%
  • Improved service levels while maintaining flat staffing numbers



Located between Tampa and Orlando, Polk County, Florida, has transitioned from an agriculture and industry hub to the center of Florida’s population boom, growing by over 30% between 2010 and 2022. Managing this growth while ensuring a high quality of life for residents has been a challenge, but Polk County, under the leadership of Building Division Director Benjamin Dunn, has found a successful strategy.

Polk County formed a unique partnership with its cities, sharing resources and increasing efficiency by adopting Accela as the default solution for permitting and planning. Polk’s vast geography and numerous jurisdictions often meant smaller municipalities lacked personnel resources like building officials and plan reviewers. Recognizing this, Mr. Dunn reached out to other directors and building officials to discuss their challenges and Polk’s partnership with Accela.

This initiative led to inter-local agreements with many cities, providing services with the requirement that municipalities adopt Accela. Polk exported their Accela configuration as a baseline for new users, who could further tailor it to their needs with the help of expert implementation partners.

This streamlined process saved significant time and money, resulting in over half the municipalities adopting Accela or being in the process of doing so. Builders and trade professionals now enjoy a consistent permitting experience county-wide, thanks to Polk’s forward-thinking approach.

In times of shrinking budgets and growing populations, this model of partnership is a potential new standard for county-city relationships. The combination of SaaS software designed for local governments and leadership focused on delivering top-notch experiences makes this model scalable for governments of all sizes.

However, before Polk County could assist other jurisdictions, they had to overhaul their own system. At the start of Polk’s rapid growth, the Building Department focused on reducing costs, increasing staff efficiency, improving customer satisfaction, and simplifying permit processing. Mr. Dunn manages the daily operations of permit techs, building inspections, and plan reviewers to ensure smooth and efficient services for both staff and customers.

Prior to implementing Accela, the department was paper-based, which was inefficient, requiring residents to submit applications in person and request updates via phone or email. Starting with an on-premises system to a cloud migration two years ago the Building Department first focused on developing the right solution for itself. They first streamlined operations by eliminating manual processes and making information accessible anytime, anywhere. Moving applications to an online portal resulted in 90% of applications being submitted digitally, with some permits approved the same day. This gives reviewers a daily head start on applications, serving more customers and shortening project times. The department also created workflows for eight permit types that are auto-issued through Accela and emailed to applicants, maintaining volume while scaling with population growth and improving customer service without increasing staff levels.

Inspectors now use devices to record inspections, including photos and videos, and a proactive tool allows customers to receive inspection results immediately, reducing staff interactions and enhancing the customer experience. Mr. Dunn remarked, “Moving to the cloud has helped us perform better for our citizens, and our staff see fewer delays in getting their jobs done.”

Director Dunn credits the County Board of Commissioners and Managers for their support in providing the resources and freedom to move to the cloud and adopt new solutions from Accela and its partners. He also recognized his core team as “the key to its success,” which is why they were honored with the Civic Hero Award for Growing Businesses. Polk County’s model can benefit any county government, particularly those supporting partner governments with resources and expertise in community development.


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