Category Archives: Community Info & Events


Polk Goes Global III: Attendees will Gain Insight on Conducting International Business

The Lakeland and Winter Haven Chambers, in collaboration with the Central Florida Development Council, is pleased to host this year’s Polk Goes Global III – A Half-Day International Exporting Conference.

This exciting and informative event highlights the economic strength of Polk County’s international trade in cattle, citrus, manufacturers, and other goods and service exports. The county is centrally located between major Florida ports, with a free trade zone in the middle of the Tampa/Orlando area, plus a CSX intermodal logistics center. Ideally situated, Polk County is a hot spot for international distribution. Over $2 billion worth of economic activity occurs through the county each year. Polk Goes Global is sure to provide a wealth of information to any businessperson or investor looking to take advantage of the worldwide reach of Polk County.

The International sponsor of the event is Saddle Creek Logistics Services; additional event sponsors include Orlando International Airport, Polk State College Lakeland Campus and SunTrust Bank. The Keynote Speaker will be Manny Mencia, SVP of International Trade and Business Development at Enterprise Florida.  For over 30 years, Mencia has acquired extensive international trade expertise while serving at the Florida Department of Commerce in various executive roles (1977-1991) and then as vice president of World Marketing at The Beacon Council (1992-1996) before joining Enterprise Florida.  His keynote address promises to offer attendees unique insight into the opportunities surrounding the global market.

There will also be a number of speakers and panelists to share their experiences on conducting international business in Polk County, including:

  • Joseph Bell, Regional Director of Enterprise Florida
  • David Befus, Associate Professor of International Business at Southeastern University
  • Sandra Campbell, Director at the U.S. Department of Commerce – Clearwater Center
  • Torrey Chambliss, Manager of Foreign Trade Zone at Port Tampa Bay
  • Mauro Costa, Managing Member of SOS Universal
  • Rick Garcia, President of Gulf Coast Avionics
  • Javier Marin, Director of Business Development and Global Trace at the Central Florida Development Council
  • Sandro Murtas, Regional Manager at the Small Business Administration
  • Eileen Rodriguez, Director of the Small Business Development Center at USF
  • Joel Sellers, International Sales Manager of Florida’s Natural Growers
  • Jennifer Simpson, Regional Director at the Eastern Region EXIM Bank
  • Dan Tapia, Manager of International Strategy and Policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce

Polk Goes Global III will be held on Friday, November 17, 2017, 7:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., at the Polk State College, LTB Auditorium, located at 3425 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland, Florida, 33801. Admission to the event is $25 for members of the CFDC, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, and the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, and $35 for non-members. The price includes breakfast.

Attendees can register online by visiting the  Lakeland or Winter Haven Chamber websites or by going to or and clicking on the events tab.

For more information please contact:
Brianna Dingess

(863) 293-2138

Rebecca Fortier

(863) 688-8551 ext. 229

Javier Marin

(863) 937-4430


Lakeland Hotel & Motel Association Giving Back to the Community

The Lakeland Hotel and Motel Association, coordinated by the Lakeland Convention and Visitors’ Bureau at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, is giving back to the Lakeland community during the holidays—with a food drive for needy children and their families.  To encourage participation, Denise Bushover, President of the Lakeland Hotel & Motel Association, and General Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott and the Residence Inn, created a “Decorative Food Box”  competition for inspiration!  Also participating in this generous food drive are industry related affiliations such as the Lakeland Magic, The Lakeland Flying Tigers, and The RP Funding Center!

Lakeland is home to approximately 3000 hotel and motel rooms—helping boost our tourism economy in Polk County where bed tax collections from 2016-2017 topped more than $11 million.  These taxes are paid by guests staying overnight in Polk County—not by our residents and help market and support our economy on a year round basis—contributing to the renovation of Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium and the RP Funding Center.  Tourism is Florida’s number one industry and contributes more than 24% of Florida’s sales tax revenues—one of the main reasons Florida does not have a state income tax!

Pictured are the collection boxes at the Courtyard by Marriott, featured from left to right, Rajane Young, Elizabeth Vogler, Melony Moss, Wanda Thomas, Courtyard by Marriott and Ariel Perez, John Mason, Rianne the Robot, Steve Orlando, Katia Thaxter, Bany Perez from the Residence Inn.

Courtyard Food Box 2017 Residence Food Box 2017


Media Alert: Special Salute to Veterans

A special SALUTE TO VETERANS will be celebrated at the BIG Event – Pirates on the Promenade on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at 4:30 PM, at the Frances Langford Promenade at Lake Mirror Amphitheatre. The SALUTE TO VETERANS is underwritten by Green Construction and is a community project involving civic groups – the North Lakeland Rotary Club, the Lakeland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the City of Lakeland. The program will begin with a march performed by the Lakeland Concert Band led by Mr. Vic Larsen, and includes presentation of the colors by the Girl Scout Troop #70698, and special recognition of veterans of all conflicts, but especially the Vietnam War, as we continue to commemorate the 50th anniversary. Commissioner Don Selvage will be our master of ceremonies. The program will end with a reading of The Wall, and the Armed Forces Medley performed by the Lakeland Concert Band with special singing guest Rebecca Renfroe-Borneman.


Hamic Previte & Sturwold, P.A. Names New Director

Hamic Previte & Sturwold, P.A. has named Vicky L. Dotson the director of Business Services & Outsourcing. Vicky began her career in audit for a national firm and served as controller for various privately-owned businesses before returning to public accounting. Vicky joined the Hamic Previte & Sturwold team in 2015 and has 30 years’ financial accounting experience in both private and public sectors. Vicky utilizes her accounting, tax, and process management experience to provide exceptional client support and service.

“We consider Vicky a tremendous asset to our team,” said HPS managing partner Steve Hamic. “We are very excited to expand her roll with us.”

Vicky is a graduate of the University of Missouri – St. Louis. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Hamic Previte & Sturwold, P.A. is a tax, accounting, and advisory firm that has provided personalized service in a wide range of financial environments for more than five decades. Both Steve Hamic, managing partner, and James Previte, vice president and shareholder, credit the firm’s growth to providing comprehensive compliance strategies tailored to meet their clients’ financial needs. “Tax Compliance is more than preparing filings and meeting deadlines,” said James Previte. “We continually strive to provide our clients with proactive planning and customized approaches that maximize their ability to achieve their intended goals.” Hamic Previte & Sturwold, P.A. has offices located in Lakeland and Dade City, Florida.

For more information on Hamic Previte & Sturwold, P.A. and a full list of services offered, visit or call 863.682.5151.


Polk State Theatre Presents ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

Winter Haven, November 6, 2017 — Polk State College continues to celebrate 50 years of theatre with the upcoming production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

The musical comedy follows six quirky adolescents as they participate in a middle school spelling bee run by three equally as wacky adults.

The play directed by Mark Hartfield with musical direction by Philip King opens Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Winter Haven Campus Main Stage Theatre, 999 Ave. H N.E.

Performances will take place Nov. 9 through Nov. 12 and Nov. 16 through Nov. 19, with a 7:30 p.m. curtain time each day except for Sundays, which will have 2:30 p.m. curtain times.

Tickets for the public are $10 each. The box office opens one hour before curtain time. Seating is limited and it is recommended that reservations be made online at or by calling 863.297.1050. The play is free for students, faculty, and staff with their Polk State IDs.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a play by William Finn and a book by Rachel Sheinkin.

“It’s a funny, quaint, and nostalgic play that takes you back to the awkward adolescent phase of being a 12-year-old,” said Hartfield, Theatre Program Coordinator. “It’s contemporary, the songs are beautiful, and the show is interactive with four audience members having the opportunity to come on stage and participate in the spelling bee.”

Hartfield warned that it contains some adult language and humor.