All posts by Cory Skeates


Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Nominations Sought for 2020 Board of Directors

bod 2020 square

In July, a nominating committee headed by Chair-elect Matt Clark (Broadway Real Estate Services) will begin work to nominate 12 new directors to serve a three-year term on the Chamber’s Board of Directors, effective January 1, 2020.

Chamber members are asked to submit their name or names of active members in good-standing who possess outstanding leadership qualities and who demographically represent the membership of the organization. Names of individuals will be submitted to the Nominating Committee, which is charged with selecting a representative slate of 12 directors to be presented to the membership for approval by September 1, 2019.

Names of proposed board candidates should be submitted no later than Friday, July 12, 2019 to: Cory Skeates, President, Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 3607, Lakeland, FL 33802-3607, by FAX:  683-7454 or by email: Questions regarding the nominations process may be directed to Cory at 688-8551, ext. 234 or at the above email address.

The membership of the Chamber is served by an elected 39-member board of directors and four ex officio members. These dedicated volunteer leaders direct the governance of the Chamber and represent the interests of the membership. As an active member, we encourage you to contact any of the following directors to provide input on how we as a business organization can better serve the diverse needs of our membership:

Executive Committee 

Board Chair: Michelle Ledford (MADE) 500-1477

Chair-elect:  Matt Clark (Broadway Real Estate Services) 683-3425

Immediate Past Chair:  Weymon Snuggs (Citizens Bank and Trust) 686-1430

Treasurer:  Joe G. Tedder (JBT Properties, LLC) 712-4930

Vice Chair, Advocacy:  Will Link (Reed Mawhinney and Link, PLLC) 687-1771

Vice Chair, Business Resource Center:  Gow Fields (Fields Insurance & Financial Group) 683-2816

Vice Chair, Communications/Marketing:  Stacey Heacock Weeks (Heacock Insurance Group) 683-2228

Vice Chair, Engagement:  Jonathan Crain (Two Men and a Truck) 646-6683

Vice Chair, Investor Development:  Derek Oxford (CPS Investment Advisors) 688-1725

 President:  Cory Skeates (Lakeland Chamber of Commerce) 688-8551 ext. 234

 General Counsel:  Craig B. Hill (Peterson & Myers, P.A.) 683-6511


Dr. Steven Achinger (Watson Clinic LLP) 680-7252

David Brown (Bank of Central Florida) 226-0836

Brian Burns (Ledger Media Group) 802-7000

Jacqueline Byrd (Polk County Public Schools) 534-0521

Tony Camarillo (RP Funding Center) 834-8133

Bretta Christakos (CenterState Bank, N.A.) 577-2975

Tony Delgado (City of Lakeland) 834-6006

Danielle Drummond (Lakeland Regional Health) 687-1195

Dr. Angela Falconetti (Polk State College) 297-1098

Dr. Kyle Fedler (Florida Southern College) 680-4124

Marcos Fernandez (Nineteen61 Latin Cuisine) 688-1961

Holland Henderson (Allen & Company of Florida, Inc.) 616-6041

Janice Tedder Jones (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP) 687-7000

Rev. Eddie Lake (New Bethel A.M.E. Church) 687-1994

John Lancaster (Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.) 647-5337

Chrissanne Long (Maximize Digital Media) 606-5994

Erica Lupercio (CPS Investment Advisors) 688-1725

Cindy Maddox (Omnia, Inc.) 619-8100

Maggie Mariucci (Florida Polytechnic University) 874-8462

Chuck McDanal (StudioC Solutions) 877-1855

Tim Mitchell (Parker Street Ministries) 682-4544

Bill Mutz (City of Lakeland) 834-6005

Cory Neupauer (Lakeland Automall – Ford & Hyundai) 583-9248

Dr. Chris Owen (Southeastern University) 667-5146

David Robinson (DSM Technology Consultants) 802-8888

Jason Rodda (Rodda Construction, Inc.)  669-0990

David Sandow (Spherion) 667-0800

Jim Sidou (Saddle Creek Logistics Services) 669-2799

Amanda Walls (Peterson & Myers, P.A.) 683-6511

Brian West (Publix Super Markets, Inc.) 688-7407

Shelly Wilkes (Lakeland Magic) 825-3262


New Saint Leo University Poll Shows Americans Plan Vacations, Hope to Unplug in 2019

LEO, FL ­– Many Americans say they plan to take a vacation in 2019, and a summer escape offers more family time as well as the opportunity to “disconnect” from work, according to a new Saint Leo University Polling Institute ( study.

The survey was fielded nationally online among 1,000 adults from April 22 through April 29, 2019. When all 1,000 answered questions, the margin of error for results is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points.

The Saint Leo poll shows 76.4 percent of respondents say they plan to vacation in 2019, whether that means long weekends, “staycations,” or weeklong stays. The survey shows 8 percent say they are not planning to vacation, but have done so in the past five years, while 7.5 say they do not take vacations, and another 8.1 say they are unsure of their plans.

When it comes to choosing rest and relaxation or lively activities, Americans say they want both, with 46.7 percent of those who will vacation in 2019 or have vacationed in the past five years saying their vacations usually are a combination of passive and active endeavors. Those preferring active vacations account for 33.9 percent in the poll while 16.8 percent of respondents say they like a passive vacation.

Beach, lake, and water activities claim the top spot with 56.3 percent of those who say they will take a vacation when they were asked to name the activities or attractions they typically include on their vacations.

All vacationing respondents were asked to select from a list of more than 20 activities or attractions the ones they typically try to include in their respective vacations. The following table presents the top 10 results collected in declining order by frequency of mention. Multiple responses were accepted.

Vacation Activities / Attractions National – %
Beach/lake/water activities 56.3
Historical site visits 44.8
Museums 40.7
Parks (national) 36.8
Shopping or outlet days 34.0
Parks (state/local) 26.9
Amusement or theme parks 22.4
Cruises 20.3
Zoos 19.2
Music events such as symphonies/concerts 19.1


A spouse or “significant other” accompanies most poll respondents who say they vacation—65.6 percent—while 30.7 percent say they are joined by their children and 21.6 percent say other relatives vacation with them. Some poll respondents vacation solo with 8.1 percent saying “nobody joins me.”

Dr. Pamela Lee, associate professor of management at Saint Leo University, said providing the opportunity for employees to earn vacation days is extremely important for businesses that want a strong organizational culture. “It is a benefit that employees like to have, even if they don’t have specific plans to use their vacation days.”

The Saint Leo poll shows two-thirds (67.7 percent) of people say they plan their vacations “months ahead of time.”

Encouraging employees to use their vacation days is also good for an organization, Lee said. “Some employees prefer to take a day here and there; others prefer to save the days and create a longer experience for rest, travel, or spending time with family,” she said.

The Saint Leo poll shows those who take vacations say they experience many benefits from taking time off. The chart shows the results displayed in declining order. Multiple responses were allowed.

Benefits of Your Vacations National – %


Family / friend time 60.5
Mental health is restored or somewhat restored 53.6
Expand my horizons / knowledge / experiences 52.3
The chance to “disconnect” 50.5
Physical rest 26.9
Physical exercise from my active vacation 25.1
Opportunity to catch up on reading 15.8


“The majority of respondents seem to want to ‘get away from it all,’” said Dr. Christopher Wolfe, assistant professor of psychology at Saint Leo University. “The most popular destinations were focused on outdoor activities—places to soak up the sun or breathe in nature. Others were focused on historical and museum visits to expand their understandings of the world and themselves. As a group, we look toward our vacations for a time for family, mental health restoration, and a chance to disconnect.”

Choosing to unplug from work, social media

For some, vacations are stress-filled and fatiguing the poll shows with 19.3 percent reporting angst and 44.9 percent of vacationers saying they come home from their trips feeling “very tired.”

But for many, vacation is a time to unplug from work and social media. Those taking the poll were presented with several statements. Each vacationing respondent was asked if they strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, somewhat disagreed, or strongly disagreed with each statement. The following table presents the cumulative totals for those strongly or somewhat agreeing with each statement.

Vacation Statements

(Strongly or Somewhat Agree – Combined)

National – %
I will usually come home very tired from my vacations 44.9
Vacations, for me, are stress filled 19.3
I shut down my cell phone while on vacation 40.2
I avoid social media while on vacation 54.3
I shut down work emails while on vacation 55.9


“In this survey, many state that we will be taking our little phones with us and only half plan to separate themselves from work emails or social media,” Wolfe said. “That lingering addiction to the bleeps and blurbs of our phones remains a constant presence, drawing our attention away from the whole point of the vacation.”

Some tips

Wolfe offered some advice for vacationers this year. “Leave the phone ‘in the car,’” he said. “Buy a disposable camera or take your old Polaroid—you won’t be tempted to stare at that.

“Turn off your notifications,” he continued. “Maybe leaving it [the cell phone] behind is too difficult, so look for ways to decrease its impact on you. Update your selections and turn off the notifications.”

For social media, Wolfe said to make a plan for contact with rest of the world. “Choose to only update your status at night or early in the morning,” he advised.

Taking time away from work can enhance employee performance and productivity, Saint Leo’s Lee added. “Vacations provide an opportunity for employees to rest or just do things that they enjoy doing,” she said. “They are able to come back to work with a fresh view or renewed vigor to solve what may be old problems in a new way.”

About the Poll

METHODOLOGY: This national survey was conducted from April 22 through April 29, 2019, among a base of 1,000 respondents nationally, using an online instrument. The national sample has an associated margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

During the same time frame, the same online survey was administered to a sample of 500 residents of Florida. The Florida poll has a +/- 4.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (on a composite basis).

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.

Media contacts: Mary McCoy, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-7118 or (813) 610-8416 (cell/text).

Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University, University Communications or (352) 588-8237 or (352) 467-0843 (cell/text).     

More About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.

The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 12,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 93,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.


SPCA Florida Hosts Inaugural Mega Adoption Event

SPCA Florida Hosts Inaugural Mega Adoption Event

Lakeland, FL- Mark your calendars, SPCA Florida will host an inaugural Mega Adoption Event coming up Saturday, June 8th, from 11:00am-7:00pm at RP Funding Center in Lakeland, FL. Three Hundred Fifty+ wonderful furry companions will be looking for their new forever home – big dogs, small dogs, senior pets, adult cats, puppies and lots of kittens.

The adoption fee is just $20.00, and you’ll take your new family member home the same day you visit. All animals will be spayed/neutered, microchipped, and up to date on vaccinations.

SPCA Florida has partnered with local Veterinary Clinics, Polk County Animal Control, and Humane Society of Polk County to bring Polk County’s homeless animals together for this event.

“We hope that animal lovers will flock to this event to get a new best friend and save a life”, says SPCA Florida Executive Director, Shelley Thayer.

Sponsors who have made this event possible include Petco Foundation in partnership with BOBS From Skechers, Petfinder Foundation, and Lakeland Automall.

Lakeland Automall Ford Dealership will have cars on display for dogs to choose their favorite vehicle. Test drive your vehicle of choice and SPCA Florida receives $20.00 per test drive.

For more information to find out ways to help homeless pets, please call (863) 577-4600.


About SPCA Florida

Founded in 1979, SPCA Florida exists to eliminate animal suffering  and engage the entire community in the welfare and well-being of animals. SPCA Florida will help and heal 70,000 dogs and cats through its McClurg Animal Medical Center and provide direct care for 6,500 animals through its Adoption Center this year. Ani-Meals, which provides food and medical care for animals of homebound families, helps thousands more dogs and cats each year.


Award Winners Honored at Florida SBDC at USF National Small Business Week Luncheon

TAMPA, FL – The Florida SBDC at University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business hosted the 2019 Business Awards Celebration Luncheon, a National Small Business Week event, at The Westshore Grand Hotel on May 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The Florida SBDC at USF announced the following award winners:

Florida SBDC at USF Performance Awards

Performance Excellence of the Year – Bill Burnham

Rising Star of the Year – Kyle King

Ambassador of the Year – Stacey Dadd

Volunteer of the Year – Jerry Joyce

Student Project of the Year – Grace Prosthetic Fabrication, Inc. (University of Tampa student team)

Outstanding Resource Partner of the Year – Hillsborough County

Game Changer of the Year – Hillsborough County Economic Development

Florida SBDC at USF Business Awards

Minority Owned Small Business Person of the Year – Miguel Cordova, Cordova Transport

Woman Owned Small Business Person of the Year – Jacqueline Darna, NoMo Bands

Small Business Person of the Year – Mark Ramnauth, Secura Property Management LLC

Florida PTAC at USF Business Person of the Year – Stacie Miller, Sencommunications, Inc.

Undergrad Student Project of the Year – Crown Shredding, Inc. (Warner University student team)


“We believe in celebrating small businesses and everything they do for our local state and national economy,” Regional Director, Eileen Rodriguez, said. “Every week is Small Business Week and we are proud to recognize the courageous women and men who risk everything to make our communities stronger.”


The Florida SBDC at USF Performance Awards winners advance to the State level awards for the Florida SBDC Network. Those state winners will be announced in Orlando on June 24, 2019 at the Florida SBDC Network’s state conference.


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) joined the Florida SBDC at USF, in celebration of National Small Business Week, to recognize U.S. SBA Florida award winners. Those businesses included Florida SBDC at USF client, Hayes Fountain, chief executive officer of Widescope Consulting and Contracting Services, located in Largo. He won the 2019 U.S. SBA Veteran-Owned Small Business Person of the Year for the South Florida District, along with Widescope COO Donald Williams.


Local event sponsors include Port Tampa Bay, The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, First Citizens Bank, Moffitt Cancer Center, and BankUnited. National Small Business Week sponsors include Visa, Aweber, Chase, Spectrum Business, Spectrum Reach and Square.



The Florida SBDC at USF assists existing and emerging businesses in the 10-county Tampa Bay region, through no-cost confidential business consulting, information, and low-cost training. Learn more about the available services for businesses at


Enclosed: Full program with winner information; pictures 


About the Florida SBDC Network: 

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy. Since 2011, Florida SBDCs have provided 624,331 hours of professional business consulting to 58,975 client businesses, resulting in 281,831 jobs impacted; $36.7 billion in sales generated; $2.7 billion in government contracts acquired; $1.6 billion in capital accessed; and 4,520 new businesses started. A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit




Florida Southern College Names Dr. Brad Hollingshead as Provost adn Vice President For Academic Affairs


LAKELAND (May 2, 2019) – Dr. Brad E. Hollingshead has been appointed by Florida Southern College President Anne Kerr as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Hollingshead is currently the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and is a deeply committed leader of the College’s mission of preparing students to make a positive and consequential impact on society.

Following the College’s national search including consideration of more than 200 applicants, members of the selection committee unanimously recommended Dr. Hollingshead. His appointment begins June 1.

“Throughout Dr. Hollingshead’s distinguished academic career of nearly 30 years, during which he has served as both a faculty member and administrator, he has worked extensively to implement programs that foster collaborative and experiential education through engaged learning strategies,” said FSC President Dr. Anne Kerr. “I am privileged to welcome Dr. Hollingshead into his new assignment as Provost for Florida Southern College.”

Dr. Hollingshead earned his B.A. in English from Ohio Dominican College and both an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Duquesne University, where he began teaching on a fellowship in 1989.  He took a faculty position at Carlow College in 1995, and in 2000 moved to Medaille College as an Associate Professor. Steadily taking on increasing levels of administrative responsibility, he established himself in a strong leadership role at Medaille.

As chief administrative officer for the School of Arts and Sciences at FSC, Dr. Hollingshead has led important strategic initiatives while providing crucial oversight across 13 academic departments and the ROTC, including curricula for 44 majors and 30 minors serving more than 1,300 students. He also maintains faculty status as a tenured Professor of English and in 2016 was appointed to the Dahl and Lottie Pryor Endowed Chair in English.

Dr. Hollingshead’s leadership at FSC has contributed to positive results in a number of important areas:

  • Increased support for students pursuing prestige scholarships, with two Goldwater Scholarship recipients and eight Fulbright Award recipients in Arts and Sciences
  • Achievement of accreditation by the American Chemical Society
  • Expansion of first-year academic programming that has improved retention rates for new students
  • Enhancement of the recruitment experience, with a 14% increase in enrollment in Arts and Sciences programs since 2014
  • Creation of the notable Child of the Sun Distinguished Speakers Series, which launched in 2016.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as Florida Southern’s next provost,” Dr. Hollingshead said. “I am in the enviable position of joining a very strong senior leadership team and having the chance to work with faculty and students who are doing some absolutely amazing things. The College is on an excellent strategic trajectory under Dr. Kerr’s leadership, and I look forward to helping Florida Southern maintain this momentum and continue to strengthen its commitment to transforming students’ lives.”

Current Provost, Dr. Kyle Fedler will be stepping back into academia, joining FSC’s Department of Religion and Philosophy as professor of Religion and Philosophy.

















Dr. Brad E. Hollingshead,
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
at Florida Southern College

About Florida Southern College

Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in Florida. The College maintains its commitment to academic excellence through 70+ undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business administration, education, and nursing. Florida Southern has a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio; is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning; and boasts 30 NCAA Division II national championships. It is ranked among the Top 20 Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report; named a Top Baccalaureate College by Washington Monthly; and included in The Princeton Review’s 384 Best Colleges, The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2018, and Forbes magazine’s America’s Top Colleges Guide. The College is committed to the development of the whole student through vibrant student life programs that prepare graduates to make a positive, consequential impact on society. FSC is conveniently located within an hour’s drive of both Orlando and Tampa. FSC is home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. Named the “Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation” for two consecutive years by The Princeton Review and one of the nation’s “Ten College Campuses with the Best Architecture” by Architectural Digest, Florida Southern is an internationally-recognized place of beauty and academic excellence.