All posts by Cory Skeates


Florida Backyard Card Launches


In these challenging economic times, it’s more important than ever to “Buy Lakeland”  and support our local businesses.  The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce is excited to join in partnership with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Retail Federation and chambers and business leaders across the state to launch the Backyard Card program.  This “Buy Local” campaign offers a powerful marketing tool for local businesses to tap into the benefits of widespread promotion of shopping incentives. 

How it works:

· Chamber Members visit

· Non-Members click through to

Promotion of the Program:

  • Consumers across the state will be urged to get a Florida Backyard Card, which will be available online and distributed by Florida Lottery retailers.
  • The campaign will be heavily promoted across the state by the Florida Lottery as well as print and broadcast media partners.
  • Consumers access the online searchable database to find the best values in their backyard.
  • The campaign will continue into the fall.

This campaign is similar to the highly successful one used to drive in-state tourism following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.  This time, ALL Florida businesses can benefit from the statewide “spend at home” campaign. If you would like to see a demonstration of the registration process, click here.  For further information and promotional materials, go to

Sign on today to be a part of this unique campaign to promote our local businesses in the Lakeland area! 


New Blog for business leads

In a recent meeting of the Communications KSI committee, the idea was floated that we needed to help our members get more business leads. While we are looking at some “business-to-business” type software options, a quick and free way to do this would be to establish a leads blog. This would be reserved solely for business opportunities. Let’s say that I need a software program written, or that I need office supplies. The notion that I could post it on a leads blog and see what comes back is interesting. Please provide feedback as to whether you believe this has merit.


RC – Florida Blood Services

Florida Blood Services opened its Community donation center at 2315 Commerce Edited-IMG_8507Point Drive (formerly A-Z Park Rd across from Summit), Ste 140 & 150, Lakeland.

For more than 65 years, Florida Blood Services’ mission has been saving lives.  Florida Blood Services provides for the blood needs of patients at 37 hospitals and over 40 outpatient healthcare centers in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties through the participation of volunteer blood donors.  800 donations are required each weekday for medical care in the Tampa Bay region. 

The Chamber would like to congratulate FBS on its opening here in Lakeland. Special thanks to Mayor Buddy Fletcher for officiating the ceremony.





RC – Watson Clinic Bella Vista Building

IMG_8363 Watson Clinic has delivered highly skilled health care services to generations of families throughout the community for the past 68 years. Today, Watson Clinic is comprised of more than 200 board-certified physicians who practice medicine in 40 medical and surgical specialties. They operate 14 convenient locations throughout Polk, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, including the Center for Cancer Care & Research, which is Polk County’s only affiliate of the world-renowned Moffitt Cancer Center.

The new Bella Vista Building, opened on February 6, is sprawling 50,000 square foot, three-story medical office located on the corner of North Florida Avenue and East Bella Vista Street. The facility offers a diverse slate of specialties and services including: Dermatology and Dermatopathology (the treatment of skin and its diseases), Otolaryngology (ear, nose & throat, facial plastic surgery, head & neck surgery), Speech & Language Pathology (treatment of disorders associated with speech, voice, swallowing and cognition communication) and a Hearing Center (audiological examinations and a full inventory of hearing devices, as well as hearing device repair). An elegant medical spa, with a separate entrance and private exit, will feature alternatives for non-surgical cosmetic enhancements and facial rejuvenation, such as facials, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, permanent makeup, body contouring, and light therapy… and more!

As one of the area’s top employers, Watson Clinic has been a strong supporter of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce for more than 60 years. One of Watson Clinic’s founding fathers, Dr. Jere Annis, was also one of the originators of the Chamber’s Leadership Lakeland program, and an award in his name is given every year.

Visit for additional information about Watson Clinic, all physicians, locations, specialties and services.

Congratulations to Watson Clinic on the opening of a beautiful building. A special thanks to Commissioner Glen Higgins for officiating the ceremonial opening.


RC – Leap Ahead Professional Development

IMG_7913 Marsha M. Leap, Ed.D.has over 20 years experience in career management and workforce development. She earned her doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, with a cognate in Human Resource Development, to compliment her Master of Science degree in Counseling & Career Development from Georgia State University and Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Georgia Southwestern State University. Marsha holds certifications in the use of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the Strong Interest Inventory, as a Florida Certified Workforce Professional, and as a Certified Job & Career Transition Coach.

Marsha owns Leap Ahead Professional Development, LLC, which offers career management strategies for employed and unemployed professional level clients. Specialized services for individuals includes interviewing and resume preparation, career assessments and planning, professional image building and leadership skill development. Businesses seek Leap Ahead’s services for assistance with succession planning, leadership development, and job profiling. Prior to branching out on her own, Marsha served on the nationally acclaimed Polk Works WorkForce 2020 Business Services team for five years and as the Director of the Florida Southern College career center for over 15 years. Her knowledge of businesses’ needs and her background in career development give Marsha the right combination of skills and experience to take clients to their next career level.

Marsha has been honored with the John T. Brownlee Leadership Award from the Florida Career Professionals Association for her outstanding leadership on their board of directors and significant contributions to the statewide association. She currently serves as the Chair of the Workforce Readiness Committee on the Mid-FL Society for Human Resource Management’s Board of Directors.