Lakeland, FL – Six finalists, made up of teams and individuals, received thousands of dollars in winnings at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce’s innovation competition, SlingShot Polk, on Monday, April 16, 2018, at the Gram Parsons Derry Down in Winter Haven.
Close to 100 students, teachers, parents, and business and educationalleaders were in attendance to hear nine finalists pitch their ideas to a panel of judges:
- Wesley Barnett, Director, Lakeland Hospitality Group
- Naomi Boyer, VP/Chief Information Officer, Strategic Initiatives & Innovation, Polk State College
- Sean Malott, President and CEO, Central Florida Development Council
- Hal L. Coffman, Senior Business Consultant, Madrid Engineering Group, Inc.
- Kim Long, Executive Director, Polk Vision
- Bruce Lyon, President, Winter Haven Economic Development Council
City of Lakeland Mayor, Bill Mutz, who served as emcee at the event, 2018 SlingShot Polk Chair, Justin Heacock (Entrepreneurship Center Coordinator at Florida Polytechnic University), and Bruce Lyon presented first, second, and third place awards in two categories to those who were selected to receive cash prizes.
SlingShot Polk Finalists and Winners:
Middle/High School Presentations
- Meryl Adrean, McKeel Academy of Technology, “Down Goes the Drone” – 3rd place ($500)
- Audrey Fagan, Alexa Rodriguez, and Cameron Brown, McKeel Academy of Technology, “BTF Kids” – 1st place ($1,000)
- Riley Mitchell and Jahira Bamaca, Bok Academy, “The Innovative Schools Security Patrol ISSP”
- Kendall Decker, South McKeel Academy, “Anti-Drowning Patch” – 2nd place ($750)
College/Under 30 Presentations
- Michael Jernigan, Florida Polytechnic University, “POROUS Aerial Imaging” – 1st place ($3,000)
- Nathan Roberts, Branden Duke, Shania Madramootoo, and Celeste Ramirez, Florida Polytechnic University, “SwitchTape” – 2nd place ($2,000)
- Jessie Pullaro, Henrique Bolivar, Saivamsi Hanumanthu, and Brent Kuhn, Florida Polytechnic University, “echoBot”
- Robert Kelly, Jamie Cook, Dylan Kanhai, and Sydney Weber, Florida Polytechnic University, “E-cycle Solutions, LLC”
- Rachel Ash, Ashton Malicoate, Ethan Brabo, and Elizabeth Hicks, Florida Southern College, “SNAP” – 3rd place ($1,000)
In 2017, more than 100 Polk students entered SlingShot Polk to present their business ideas relating to STEM. This year, students entered SlingShot Polk with the hope of solving Polk’s Biggest Problems every year. The goal this year, and going forward, is to leverage our young, creative, and talented innovators by engaging them with private and civic leaders to solve a problem that matters to Polk County and its residents. Our hope is that through this effort we will achieve actionable steps for change as well as an increased retainment of our best and brightest in Polk County.
In February, middle, high school, and college students and innovators under the age of 30 were invited to enter plans outlining a solution to one of Polk’s biggest problems. Nine finalists from more than 100 entries submitted were selected to move forward in the competition. Finalists received mentoring and training to develop enhance their communication skills before they presented their final plans and products on April 16.
SlingShot Polk is an initiative of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and is sponsored and supported by:
- Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College
- Bartow Culinary Academy
- Bill and Dena Rhey
- Centennial Bank
- Central Florida Development Council, Inc.
- Enterprise Rent-a-Car
- Georges Family Trust
- Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce
- Hamic Previte & Sturwold, P.A.
- Heacock Insurance
- InTouch, Fleet Intelligence Simplified
- Madrid Engineering Group, Inc.
- Main Street Winter Haven
- Joe and Kim Childs
- Polk County Public Schools
- Polk Vision
- Saint Leo University Lakeland Education Center
- Southeastern University
- Webber International University
- Winter Haven Economic Development Council, in partnership with: BB&T, The Becky and Baxter Troutman Family, Straughn & Turner P.A., Citizens Bank & Trust, CNP Agency, TECO, and Pennoni
- Middle and High First Place – Audrey Fagan, Cameron Brown, and Alexa Rodriguez – McKeel Academy of Technology – BTF Kids – with Bill Mutz and Justin Heacock
- College and Under 30 First Place – Michael Jernigan – Florida Polytechnic University – POROUS Aerial Imaging – with Bill Mutz, Bruce Lyon, and Justin Heacock
Since 1921, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce has served as an advocate for business. The Chamber is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating a climate where business can prosper. The Lakeland Chamber is the largest Chamber of Commerce in Polk County with more than 1,400 investor businesses. The Lakeland Chamber continues to be an integral component of the Lakeland community by offering a wide variety of programs and initiatives that positively impact the economic vitality and quality of life in our region. Our investors capitalize on the contacts, resources, and support provided by the Chamber.