Local residents call Clermont, Florida, the "Gem of the Hills" because the town is located in one of very few Florida areas that have hills. Founded in 1884, Clermont is located in South Lake County, about 25 miles west of Orlando and approximately 25 miles northwest of Walt Disney World. The city has a population of approximately 23,000 and encompasses more than 11 square miles.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
The growing community of Clermont is in close proximity to Orlando, making it a logical place for businesses to settle. Many Clermont residents also commute into Orlando for work.
Clermont began as an orange orchard and remained that way until recently. With the population boom in nearby cities, Clermont has experienced rapid growth. The addition of major retailers such as Target and Kohl's has kept the population on the rise. Now overcrowding and pollution are of concern to those living in this once tiny town.
Construction is a large part of Clermont's industry. There are numerous industrial plants and factories creating many repair and construction needs. Flooring, paint, cabinets, counters and other needs for building homes are manufactured here and shipped all over the country.
The major employers in this part of the state are South Lake Hospital, Lake County School System, Super Wal-Mart, City of Clermont and Publix.
Besides factory-related jobs, Clermont is known for its large tourist attractions, while still maintaining a small-town feel. For families wanting to avoid the hustle and bustle of a city like Orlando, Clermont offers a quieter alternative, with plenty of dining and lodging establishments.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Clermont accommodates more than 4,500 houses, of which over 4,200 are occupied. Of these, more than 3,000 are owner-occupied; renters occupy around 1,200 houses.
The crossroads of Florida, Clermont is located at the intersection of State Road 50, which runs east and west across the state and U.S. Highway 27, which runs north and south through the center of the state. Clermont is on a chain of 16 lakes connected by the winding Palatlakaha River in the Ocklawaha Basin of the tributaries of the St. Johns River, the only river system in the United States that flows north.
Downtown Clermont is located next to Lake Minneola and is undergoing a revitalization project to preserve the neighborhood's historic character. Downtown is home to several local businesses, as well as the city's weekly farmers market.
- Revolution, the Off Road Experience: This new motor and water sports park allows visitors to drive ATVs, 4x4s like the Hummer H2 and Jeep Wrangler, or European Rally Cars. There are also water attractions like trophy bass fishing, water skiing, and wake boarding.
- Presidents Hall of Fame: Based on the classic wax museum of presidents, the displays at the Presidents Hall of Fame also include The White House and the Treaty Room. Also on display is an actual cast of Abraham Lincoln's face and hand.
- Showcase of Citrus: This one-stop citrus shop allows patrons to buy and ship fruit or trees back home. The attraction also features a yellow zebra-painted monster truck that takes visitors out on an eco-tour, where they have the opportunity to safely come face to face with Florida's wildlife in their habitats. The U-Pick Grove lets people choose fruits from more than 50 varieties of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes.
- Lakeridge Winery and Vineyard: Once the center of the state's grape-growing business, Lakeridge is now one of Florida's largest wineries. Family-owned and -operated Lakeridge Winery is a pioneer in the creation of table and sparkling wines from hybrid grapes. It is located on a more than 120-acre estate of Florida countryside, and visitors can take a full tour to learn how the wine is made, the differences in grapes and growing methods, and the essentials of pairing different wines with certain meals.
- Waterfront Park: This park, located next to Lake Minneola, is home to the annual Great Florida Triathlon. There are trails paved throughout that are perfect for walkers, bikers, rollerbladers and others, but visitors need to be careful not to sneak up on any Florida animals or birds. Visitors can also cool off with a dip in the water, have a picnic, or fish from a pier.
- First Friday: Every month, the city's downtown historic building, Clermont, is opened up for arts, crafts, music and specialty shops; locals perform live, and there are also dining options available. Classic cars cruise down the streets and park for impromptu shows.
- Pig on the Pond: A rousing barbecue competition, Pig on the Pond is endorsed and judged by the Florida Barbecue Association. Teams compete in four meat categories for awards, some chosen by festival-goers. While most adults head straight for BBQ Alley, kids can stop by the carnival area for some fun. Later, fireworks light up the night sky.
- Lake-Sumter Community College caters to students of all abilities and levels. Online courses are available, as well as those in a traditional classroom setting. In addition, a special office is dedicated to students with disabilities who seek to further their knowledge. The school also has a Direct Connect to UCF program in which students who graduate with a two-year degree from LSCC and maintain acceptable grades are automatically admitted to the University of Central Florida to finish their four-year degree. Benefits include a streamlined application process and automatic acceptance with acceptable GPA and coursework.
Two newspapers serve the Clermont area: The News Leader, which has a circulation of more than 60,000, and South Lake Press, a weekly newspaper owned by HarborPoint Media Group.