For the past 65 years, Chastain-Skillman has been on the leading edge of Lakeland’s growth. Working in the city that they love, CSI is committed to making Lakeland a great place to live and work. We are proud to work behind behind the scenes to contribute to the “effortless” growth of our stunning city! We are honored to have our solutions showcased by the Lakeland Chamber and we look forward to exceeding expectations in the City of Lakeland for years to come. Read about our role in the growth and development of our community in our Lakeland Chamber Forum showcase!

When Chastain-Skillman, Inc. (CSI) first opened their doors for business, the price of gas was $0.18 gallon, the average annual income was $3,210 and Lakeland’s population was 30,851. At that time, Lakeland’s economy was based primarily on phosphate mining, manufacturing and citrus. Fast forward 65 years to today, Lakeland is now a booming city conveniently nestled between Tampa and Orlando, with a population of 100,710. No longer primarily an agricultural community, Lakeland is now relying more on business, medical services and tourism to fuel its economy.

Much of Lakeland’s evolution is a result of several key development projects that have shaped our community and have been ultimately responsible for the city’s economic growth and development. Chastain-Skillman has been instrumental in most of these significant developments that have occurred from the 1950s until now. Some of these projects include Joker Marchant Stadium, the Florida Polytechnic University, Hollis Gardens and the Amazon Distribution Center. However, one of the most influential projects that has transformed this city is the Oakbridge development, which also encompasses Grasslands and Lakeside Village.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, the area that is now Oakbridge was an abandoned phosphate mine that sat vacant and unsightly. As a lifelong Lakeland resident, it bothered CSI’s president Jim Chastain that this land had gone to waste. He had a vision for this forgotten piece of land on the edge of town. He did a case study for the landowners (Drummond Company) to decide what to do with the 1,400 acres of undeveloped land. His research paid off and resulted in a $5 million land reclamation grant. That grant became the catalyst for the development of Oakbridge, Grasslands and Lakeside Village, which became one of Chastain-Skillman’s biggest projects. That overlooked piece of land on the edge of town is now one of the epicenters of Lakeland that has spurred new business, residential developments and roadways.

Like Lakeland, CSI has changed greatly over the past 65 years. The firm, which started with 25 employees as Lakeland Engineering in 1950, provided Civil Engineering and relied primarily on phosphate work to sustain their business. During the next few years, the firm changed its name to Chastain-Skillman, Inc. and began to expand their services to include municipal work and land development. Lakeland continued to grow and commercial and land development was on the rise. Lakeland’s desirable location attracted new businesses creating more jobs while changing the focus of the community. Phosphate and citrus were no longer dominant and had to make way for the next generation of business and industry. Increased development expanded the footprint of the city transforming phosphate mines to shopping centers and orange groves into neighborhoods for new residents. CSI grew and expanded along with Lakeland through good times and bad. Today, CSI employs 60 and offers Civil Engineering, Surveying, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Science, Containment Risk Management, Industrial Hygiene and other public health services.

CSI recently announced Jay Chastain’s promotion to President and Steve McConn as Vice President of the firm. Jay represents a third generation of professionals at the firm throughout its 65-year history. Jim continues to play an active role at the firm but plans to spend his time doing what he loves – engineering and mentoring young professionals at the firm.

CSI is proud to be one of the oldest members in the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce.

Like the Lakeland Chamber and the LEDC, CSI’s goal is to make Lakeland a great place to live and work. CSI is always striving to provide the infrastructure necessary to support the growth of this great city. The firm works to stay ahead of the curve, adapting technology and research to practical problem solving in every project that they undertake. The result is beautiful neighborhoods shopping centers and business complexes connected by roadways that are safe and dependable.

The result is our stunning city who has effortlessly evolved with the times and become better than she ever was before. Chastain-Skillman is proud to have contributed a big piece of that history and expects to be part of Lakeland’s next 65 years.

View the full article in Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce’s Forum for Business.