All posts by Cory Skeates


ACTION ALERT: Call the Governor Today to Support USFP Funding

The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce supports strengthening our education and workforce systems to close the talent gap and provide Florida with long-term economic success through a highly skilled and educated workforce. One of its most significant economic priorities is the full funding of the University of South Florida Polytechnic (USFP).

Funding for USFP has been secured in the 2012 Florida Budget recently passed by the Legislature. The Budget now awaits the signature of the Governor. Action is needed NOW!

Please contact Governor Rick Scott today and urge him to support the funding included in the 2012 Florida Budget for the construction of the University of South Florida Polytechnic Science and Technology Building, construction of the Pharmacy School, as well as for planning of the Center for Interdisciplinary Excellence.

USFP is unquestionably one of the most important economic development projects to impact not only Lakeland, but Polk County and the greater I-4 corridor. It will serve as a catalyst to attract high skill/high wage industry and jobs to our region. A recent study by the Central Florida Development Council reveals that the campus and surrounding development will have a total economic impact of $3.2 billion. The study estimates an additional 36,610 jobs that will be created in the local economy adding another $1.3 billion in earnings. Information technology, manufacturing, logistics, distribution, health care and engineering– these are just a few industries that will be attracted to our area as a result of USF Polytechnic.

You may call the Governor at (850) 487-1880 or at (850) 488-5000. You may email the Governor’s office at

Letters can be addressed to:
The Honorable Rick Scott, Governor
The Capitol, PL 05
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0001


Teachers: Join Lakeland Community Theatre for a Free Night of Page to Stage

Lakeland Community Theatre presents Polk County Educators’ Night in support of the performing arts in Polk County schools.

Enjoy a night of fun and entertainment with refreshments and goodie bags… see what the Theatre has to offer your students and your school!

Theatre volunteers and cast members will perform the elementary production of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and and excerpt from the secondary production of Shakespeare Abridged

Attendees will also have the opportunity to sign up for field trips to see Wind in the Willows, Pinkalicious, How I Became a Pirate at Lake Mirror Theatre for the 2011-2012 Theatre for Youth Season.

Reserve tickets or for more information, please call Maureen Whelan, Education Director: (863) 603-7529.


Congressman Dennis Ross to Hold Job Fair, VIP Breakfast for Featured Employers

The greatest challenge facing our community today is unemployment. No matter what issues dominate the headlines, a mom or dad without a job creates sleepless nights, empty stomachs and broken dreams.

The Congressional Office of Dennis A. Ross is partnering with Polk Works and the Polk County Chambers of Commerce to hold its First Annual Job Fair on June 7 at the Bartow Civic Center from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The Bartow Civic Center is located at 2250 South Floral Avenue in Bartow.

All employers are encouraged to participate in this event and may register online at

The first 50 employers to register will have the opportunity to take part in a VIP Breakfast hosted by Congressman Ross prior to the job fair.

The focus of this job fair is to connect job seekers with businesses that are hiring or plan to hire in the near future. It is anticipated that the experience and education levels of attendees will be diverse, so there should be qualified applicants, regardless of the job you have to offer.

For more information, please call (863) 508-1600 ext. 1102.


Hit a Homerun for Your Business at Business After Hours!

Take me out to the BALL GAME!

Sponsored by…


Before our own Flying Tigers take on the Jupiter Hammerheads, hit a homerun for your business!

  • Share business cards!
  • Meet new contacts!
  • Reconnect with fellow members!

The Flying Tigers & Lakeland Electric have planned a great night of food, drinks & live music.

Admission to Business After Hours includes a ticket to the ballgame at 7 p.m.

Plus, during the game until the 7th inning, it’s $1 beer & soda!

Joker Marchant Stadium | 2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd | 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Register Today!


May 15-21 Proclaimed as Small Business Week, Conference Webcast Available

President Barack Obama hailed small business owners as the backbone of the nation’s economy in his proclamation of the week of May 15-21 as National Small Business Week. The President declared them to be the embodiment of America’s promise: “the idea that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard enough, you can succeed in our country.”

The President’s proclamation was issued before the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 48th annual observance of National Small Business Week in Washington, D.C.  (May 18-20).  The event honors outstanding entrepreneurs from across the country, and features announcement of the 2011 National Small Business Person of the Year, who is selected from among 54 small business award winners from 50 states, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The President’s proclamation states: “Our country started as an idea, and it took hard-working, dedicated, and visionary patriots to make it a reality.  A successful business starts much the same way—ideas realized by entrepreneurs who dream of a better world and work until they see it through.  From the family businesses that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of America’s promise.

“Throughout our economic recovery, persevering small businesses have helped put our country back on track.  Countless new and saved jobs have come from small businesses who took advantage of tax relief, access to capital, and other tools in the Recovery Act, the Small Business Jobs Act, and other initiatives launched by my Administration to put Americans back to work.  To ensure the stability of our recovery, we must continue to provide new opportunities for small business owners and the next generation of entrepreneurs, who will help us out-innovate and out-build our global competitors to win the future.

“To support high-growth businesses, my Administration has launched Startup America, an initiative that will strengthen access to capital and mentoring while reducing barriers to growth for small businesses.  Entrepreneurship is essential to the strength and resilience of our economy and our way of life.  Startup America will give entrepreneurs the tools they need to build their business into the next great American company.  To encourage innovation, we released the Strategy for American Innovation, a report outlining my Administration’s plan to harness ingenuity.  This means investing in the building blocks of innovation, like education and infrastructure, while promoting market-based growth through tax credits and effective intellectual property laws.

“The National Export Initiative is working to open markets to American businesses and support small exporters, who increase American competitiveness abroad and create good jobs here at home.  We continue to create opportunity for businesses in underserved communities through new lending initiatives, expanded access to counseling and technical assistance. We are also working to provide small businesses more opportunities to compete for Federal contracts. This gives Federal agencies access to some of our country’s best products and services while helping these businesses grow and employ community members.  Through these and other initiatives, we are supporting the entrepreneurs and small businesses that provide work for half of American workers and create two out of every three new jobs.

“Small businesses embody the promise of America: that if you have a good idea and are willing to work hard enough, you can succeed in our country.  This week, we honor and celebrate the individuals whose inspiration and efforts keep America strong.”

The full text of the President’s National Small Business Week proclamation can be found at:

National Small Business Week 2011 will be highlighted with two-and-a-half days of events in Washington, D.C., at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where more than 100 outstanding business owners from across the country will be recognized.  In addition to the State Small Business Persons of the Year, men and women involved in disaster recovery, government contracting, small business champions as well as SBA partners in financial and entrepreneurial development will be honored.

Under the National Small Business Week 2011 theme of “Empowering Entrepreneurs,” featured speakers include Senator Jack Reed (D – Rhode Island); Senator Mary Landrieu (D – Louisiana); Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama; Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL and Chair of Start-Up America Partnership; Cathy Hughes, Founder and Chairperson of Radio One, and Chair of SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities; SBA Administrator Karen Mills and SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns.

A complete agenda for the event is posted at Also featured are a series of executive panel forums on Strategies for High Growth, Exporting and Social Media. The public can “attend” Small Business Week events virtually, via the SBA’s streaming video on the Web at