All posts by Cory Skeates


RC – Rita’s Water Ice

Rita’s Water Ice made its official debut in the Lakeland area this Saturday with a grand opening celebration – a true family affair.  The newest business venture of the Joseph family, Rita’s is managed by partners James Joseph and Victor Cuellar.

Rita's Italian Ice by you.Rita’s signature product is their Italian Ice, which is much smoother than a snow cone and combines ice with real fresh fruit; made daily on-site and served within 36-hours of mixing.  Also offered are Cream Ice (including the limited engagement “Pumpkin Pie” flavor) and Frozen Custard, offered plain or in combination with Italian Ice or Cream Ice. 

This latest location of the Rita’s franchise is located in Joseph Town Center at 2405 EF Griffin Road.  Many members of the Joseph family were joined by friends and customers to celebrate the grand opening, officiated by Lakeland’s mayor, the Honorable Buddy Fletcher. 


Opening Session Bring Entrepreneurs Together

Last night, 20 of our community’s dreamers and doers embarked on a new journey in their careers. Some had business plans, some entrepreneurial dreams; some veteran business owners, others looking for an opportunity to work for themselves. The launch of the 2008 Entrepreneurial Academy was at hand.

Academy Sponsor WONN/WPCV/WLKF/WWRZ Radio was represented by Nancy Cattarius who shared how proud the radio stations are to have committed to the program from the beginning. A huge “thank you” goes out to our local stations and their employees for exemplifying corporate citizenship and supporting the entrepreneurial spirit in our community!

Chairman of the Chamber board of directors, Tim Campbell (Clark, Campbell & Mawhinney, PA) was also eager to welcome class members and congratulate them on taking this first step. The large number and great success of small businesses in our community is one quality of life benefit that the Chamber is proud to boast!

For the majority of the opening session, Carolyn Jackson, VP of Member Relations, introduced the group to the syllabus for the Academy and reviewed “house rules”. Questions were answered and attendees formulated expectations and goals for their participation.

Finally, everyone was asked to share a 10-second commercial about his or her idea or dream. As each person spoke, the room followed- making mental notes about questions and suggestions to share. At the end of class, no one stayed in seats; every person was up networking, sharing dreams and looking forward to what the Academy could offer to see their business succeed.

For the next 9 weeks, these 20 opportunity-seekers will learn the ins and outs of business ownership from leaders in our community who have lived the challenges and celebrated the successes. There’s no text book here, just real-life experiences and hard-earned lessons!


Catalyst Volunteers Celebrate $300,314!

On August 28, Catalyst Volunteers joined together to celebrate a to-date total of $300,314- a significant milestone! The celebration included some words of wisdom and congratulations from Vice Chair Walker Wilkerson (The NCT Group CPA’s, LLP) as well as Vice Chair Kathryn Koch-O’Malley (Lanier Upshaw). Rinnai provided a beautiful setting for the best part of the event- a martini competition!
Catalyst Reward Session #2
Special thanks to Rinnai and Nikki DeSapio for hosting and to Chef Paulie for sharing fabulous hors d’ oeuvres!
Catalyst Reward Session #2
Volunteers conclude sales on September 12 and are championing a goal of $395,000. The Catalyst Campaign seeks to secure funding for the Chamber’s 2009 programs, events, advertising and sponsorships. There is still time to promote your business through the next year- contact a Catalyst Volunteer today! For additional information, please visit the Catalyst Web site!


Catalyst Volunteers Celebrate $200,453!

Just over 15 days into the Campaign, Chair Nancy Cattarius was proud to announce total production of $200,453! To celebrate, Foster Lanenga of Farris & Foster’s Chocolate Factory treated Catalyst volunteers to a fabulous Chocolate party! Each volunteer was able to leave with 1/2 pound of chocolate! Give them a call to schedule your own date night, party or team building event!

Catalyst Reward Session at Farris & Foster's Chocolate Factory

Current Cruise winners were also announced at the reward reception! Congratulations to:

TRIPS FOR TWO ($15,000+)

Nancy Cattarius, WONN/WPVC/WLKF/WWRZ Radio

Victor Rodriguez, Lakeland Regional Medical Center

Kathryn Koch-O’Malley, Lanier Upshaw

Kathy Wallen, The NCT Group, CPA’s LLP

TRIPS FOR ONE ($10,000-$14,999)

Phil Wegman, Furr & Wegman Architects, PA

Mary McQueen, Tinsley McQueen + Ross

Tom Eleazer, Florida Lifestyle Communities

Cindy Green, Furr & Wegman Architects, PA

Catalyst Reward Session at Farris & Foster's Chocolate Factory


Event Marketing Provides Highest ROI

The largest and longest-running annual survey of corporate sales and marketing executives, EventView 2008: North America, reveals that events generate the highest ROI of any marketing channel. This is just one of the top-line findings of a study produced by a unique collaboration between The Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Foundation, the Event Marketing Institute (EMI) and George P. Johnson (GPJ).


ROI Table

The Chamber’s annual Catalyst Campaign provides member businesses high-quality opportunities for business to business event marketing as well as business to consumer event marketing. With marketing dollars stretched to the limit, the trends are seeing event marketing dollars increase in percentage compared to total marketing budgets nationwide- 27% in 2007.

Put your marketing dollars to work for you! Contact a Catalyst Campaign volunteer today to map out a plan for your brand!

Visit the Catalyst Campaign Web site!