All posts by Cory Skeates


AFP Greater Polk County Chapter Now Accepting National Philanthropy Day Nominations

(Lakeland, FL) – The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Polk County Chapter is now accepting nominations for its seventh annual National Philanthropy Day (NPD). NPD recognizes the vast spectrum of services provided by the nonprofit community and acknowledges the profound impact philanthropy has on the framework of society. Each year the AFP Greater Polk County Chapter honors individuals and groups who, through their hard work and dedication, have enhanced philanthropy, their communities, and the world.

Help AFP celebrate our community heroes by submitting a nomination before August 1, 2020. Award categories include: Philanthropist of the Year, Philanthropic Corporation of the Year, Philanthropic Small Business of the Year, Spirit of Philanthropy, Volunteer of the Year in Philanthropy, and Youth in Philanthropy. Nominating organization of the winners will receive varying cash donations. For details on the award descriptions, previous award winners, and the submission form, please visit: Applicants who have questions or need assistance can contact NPD Co-Chairs Rhonda Todd at or Paula Creamer at


SCORE District 480 Offers Free, Six-Part Webinar

Close, Survive or Thrive? The Small Business Challenge Today

July 16 – August 20

Lakeland, Fla., June 30, 2020 — For the first time, SCORE Chapters within the nonprofit’s District 480 are joining forces to offer small business owners throughout the region the critical guidance needed today to determine whether they should stay in business and the best steps for moving forward. In a special six-part webinar series, presenters from five SCORE Chapters will guide small business owners—the backbone of the local and national economy—through an easy-to-follow, four-step process for meeting today’s small business challenges and creating a path for the future.

Small business owners need to learn how to take action to preserve their livelihoods and those of their employees now more than ever. According to an April survey from Main Street America, 7.5 million small businesses nationwide will shut permanently if business disruption caused by COVID-19 continues unabated. In Southwest Florida, in Lee County alone, a recent survey by Florida Gulf Coast University’s Regional Economic Research Institute shows that 56% surveyed businesses reported a decrease in demand of more than 50% as a result of the pandemic.

Each webinar will take place from noon to 1 p.m. The series is free. Participants are encouraged to attend each one for comprehensive guidance. Registrants will be enrolled in the entire series upon registration.

July 16: Close, Survive or Thrive – The Small Business Challenge Today: Assess your current financial situation, analyze the state of your business, and communicate your plan to staff and customers. (Presented by Eileen Buchanan, SWFL SCORE)

July 23: Show Me the Money – Assessing Your Financial Situation: In this webinar, participants will be shown how to use financial information to assess the current state of their business, how to use that information for making critical decisions about closing or surviving and thriving, and how to manage cash flow in the short term to set the stage for thriving in the future. (Presented by Henry McCabe, Port Charlotte SCORE)

July 30: Analyze Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and Act on Your Results: It’s time to re-analyze and document your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities and threats since the emergence of COVID-19. Then the brainstorming begins to develop your best path forward. (Presented by Walter McCracken, Pinellas SCORE)

August 6: Putting It Together in an Actionable Plan – the Business Model Canvas: Learn how to use the Business Model Canvas, a tool that allows you to capture the key ingredients of your plan on a single page, using a rigorous, thoughtful process. (Presented by Doug Barber, Manasota SCORE)

August 13: The In-Business Guide to Tough Times – Marketing on a Dime: Get your name and product out to potential customers and clients without spending a lot of money. (Presented by Sharon Schulman, SWFL SCORE)

August 20: The Small Business Legal Challenges in the Age of COVID-19: What new risks does your business face today and how will you protect yourself and your business from liability? (Presented by Patrick H. Neale, Attorney at Law, Naples)


To register:



Eileen Buchanan

Eileen Buchanan was the Founder of Fastrak Training Inc., which trained software professionals in government and industry. It was recognized in the 1990s by INC. magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing, privately owned companies in America. She has been a SCORE volunteer for 15 years and is the chapter chair for the Southwest Florida SCORE chapter.

Henry McCabe

Henry McCabe has been a SCORE mentor and educator since 2003, when he sold the successful printing business he founded in 1986. Prior to that, he had been CFO and CEO of a welding equipment manufacturer. He gained deep knowledge of how enterprises operate, and how their operations can be represented in financial models as a senior financial analyst and manager for a division of a large aerospace manufacturer.

Walter McCracken, Ph.D., MBA

Walter McCracken, Ph.D., advises companies in technology-oriented business and program management, mainly in the aerospace/defense industry. He earned his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Florida and MBA from the University of South Florida. He was Director of Advanced Programs for SRI International, where he oversaw government contracts and was responsible for the daily Marine Technology Program operations. He has founded or co-founded several diverse businesses.

Douglas Barber

Douglas Barber has been a SCORE mentor and educator since 2009. He began his career as a builder of single- family residential homes in Western New York, where he developed several rural subdivisions with 5-plus-acre lots. His teaching career began at Alfred State College, SUNY in Construction Management and continued in higher education. Barber has 17 years of classroom teaching and 14 years in college administration. He currently is involved in real estate in Belize.

Sharon Schulman

Sharon Schulman recently retired as the Special Advisor to the President of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. During her tenure, she held positions of Chief University Relations and Marketing Officer, Chief Executive Officer for External Affairs and Institutional Research, Interim Chief Development Officer, and Executive Director of the Stockton Foundation. Her portfolio includes marketing, public relations, publications, web and social media communications, and government relations.

Patrick Neale

Patrick Neale is an attorney, civil mediator and arbitrator who practices law in the areas of foreclosure prevention and defense, bankruptcy, land use, construction contracts, real estate, zoning, and administrative law. Neale moved to Collier County in 1987. He has served on and chaired many local charity boards and is currently on the boards of Avow Hospice, the Culinary and Hospitality Education Foundation (CHEF), and the Collier County Bar Association. He has received numerous awards of distinction. Neale is an adjunct professor at FGCU.



The Central Florida SCORE chapter has over 20 volunteer mentors who leverage their expertise to help small businesses learn to manage a wide range of issues. SCORE, America’s premier source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs and small businesses, is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE’s over 10,000 volunteer business experts provide hundreds of thousands of free small business mentoring sessions and local/online educational services to clients at all points of their business lifecycle through 300 chapters nationwide. In 2018, SCORE volunteers provided 4.36+ million hours to help create more than 32,000 small businesses and 103,000 full-time, part-time and contractor jobs. For more information:




LAKELAND, Fla. (June 30, 2020) – Lakeland Electric’s customers will begin receiving redesigned utility bills on July 1. The biggest change customers who receive multiple utility services will notice is a new City of Lakeland Utilities logo at the top of their bill. Electric-only customers will continue to see the Lakeland Electric logo at the top of the bill.

The new bill is designed to improve readability, make it easier for customers to distinguish between utility service costs, and draw customers’ focus to crucial information. In preparation for this project, Lakeland Electric examined utility bills from across the country and participated in a national utility benchmarking study of bill redesign. The utility implemented the study’s key takeaways into their bill redesign by using colors and graphs and limiting text. The redesign project was completed with no increase in production cost.

Customers’ due date and amount due are now prominently displayed in a red box on the top right corner of the bill. A donut graph on the first page creates a visual breakdown of each service for multi-service accounts or service tiers for single service accounts. Customers’ bill details, including annual usage graph, customer charges, fees, surcharges, and taxes, will now appear on the second page of the bill. Customers will also benefit from seeing important messages appear prominently on the bill.

“As Lakeland’s locally owned utility, we are constantly working to improve the customer experience,” said Dave Kus, Lakeland Electric Assistant General Manager of Customer Service.

“We’ve worked to design this bill to serve all of our customers’ needs, whether customers prefer to take a cursory glance or they want a detailed description of their utility usage.”

Lakeland Electric conducted a customer survey in February to help determine the final bill design. Overall design, ease of finding information, and readability survey questions all scored very high. Customer comments included “Best design of a bill,” and “Good job on the redesign. Thumbs up.”


The Mahalak Auto Group promotes Clint Turnbull to General Manager of Dodge Chrysler Jeep RAM of Winter Haven.

Mike Mahalak, president of the Mahalak Auto Group recently announced that Clint Turnbull has been appointed General Manager of Dodge Chrysler Jeep RAM of Winter Haven. “We are very excited to have Clint assume this position at our flagship dealership.”, said Mr. Mahalak, “Clint has been with Winter Haven DCJR for over thirty years. His experience in all areas of the automotive industry makes him the perfect person for this position.”

Clint started working at the Winter Haven dealership in 1993 after serving in the US Marines. Clint is a recent graduate of the NADA (National Auto Dealer Association) Academy. Clint was born and raised in Winter Haven, Fl. He and his family currently live in Winter Haven.

“Our dealerships strive to provide an exceptional service and sales experience. The Mahalak Auto Group is proud to promote Clint Turnbull with his knowledge of the community and years of automotive experience to the position of General Manager at Winter Haven Dodge Chrysler Jeep RAM.”, said Mike Mahalak.

About the Mahalak Auto Group (MAG): Ralph Mahalak Sr. opened his auto dealership in Monroe, Michigan in 1966. He was dedicated to providing reliable products and services to his community. In 1991, he handed over his business skills and motivation to his four sons, Ralph Jr, Mike, JP, and Alex. Now, the four brothers run six different family owned and operated dealerships committed to their communities. Four of which are in Florida; Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram of Winter Haven, Alfa Romeo Fiat of Winter Haven, Posner Park Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat in Davenport. In 2013, MAG purchased the Sorenson Schade Chrysler dealership in Lake Wales and re-named it Lake Wales Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM. In Monroe MI, the Monroe Superstore sells Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and RAM. The Buckeye Superstore in Shelby OH, sells Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, RAM and Fiat.



FCA US LLC is a North American automaker based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. It designs, manufactures, and sells or distributes vehicles under the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram, FIAT and Alfa Romeo brands, as well as the SRT performance designation. FCA, the seventh-largest automaker in the world based on total annual vehicle sales, is an international automotive group. FCA is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “FCAU”

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Polk County Visitor Center Hosts Hurricane Expo 2020

Davenport, FL (June 26, 2020) – Central Florida’s Visitor Information Center (CFVIC) will host Hurricane Expo 2020 on Saturday, July 18. This free event will take place from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. The first 300 families will receive a free case of water (one per family). Hurricane shelter maps will be available as well as list of resources to help prepare for a hurricane. Local vendors will be on site to talk about their products and services, including air conditioning repair, roofing, tree trimming, insurance, screen repair and more. There will be safety measures in place to promote social distancing and proper hygiene. For more information, or to inquire about being a vendor, call 863-420-2586.

In addition to assisting visitors and residents (by providing tourism information about Polk County), CFVIC also sells discounted attraction tickets for many Central Florida attractions (including LEGOLAND Florida Resort). The information center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week (excluding major holidays), and is located at 101 Adventure Court, Davenport, FL 33837 (along U.S. Highway 27), a half-mile south of I-4 at Exit 55.