Category Archives: Announcements


The Salvation Army Lakeland Family Store Prepares for Future Growth


More donated items needed for store’s new processing center.

 Lakeland, FL (June 9, 2017) – With The Salvation Army Lakeland Family Store establishing its own processing center for donated items, the store now has the chance to raise more funds for the Army’s regional adult rehabilitation center, where 163 men reside from 6-12 months to get the needed help and education to solve their alcohol, drug and other afflictions. By encouraging more Lakeland area residents and businesses to donate their unwanted clothing, household goods, furniture, appliances and vehicles, the store’s potential income growth will be a big support to the adult rehabilitation center in providing shelter, food, clothing, medical assistance, counseling, meaningful work, vocational training, fellowship, and spiritual guidance to people who have lost their self-direction.

By setting up the new processing center in the back of the Family Store, which is located at 3915 S. Florida Avenue in Lakeland, donated items get delivered directly to sorting stations to be evaluated and priced before being displayed on the store’s floor. The processing center assures maximum efficiency and sustainability standards are being applied to the handling of donated items. The turnaround time for donations to become available to sell is dramatically cut, and both the travel time and fuel consumption of the Army’s delivery trucks are significantly reduced.

“It makes sense that our Lakeland Family Store, which is blessed to have space for future growth, operates its own processing center. We need more people in Polk County to donate their unwanted items so ultimately our adult rehabilitation center can help more people in our region, which includes Polk County, who want to have clean and healthy lives,” said Major John Reed, administrator for the Tampa Adult Rehabilitation Center.

To schedule a free truck pickup of unwanted, tax-deductible items, please call 1-800-728-7825 or visit And if someone wants long-term help to solve drug or alcohol dependency, please call 1-813-972-0471 ext. 59074.


Leadership Lakeland Graduates 31 from Class XXXIV



With leadership from Class XXXIV Chair Lesley Verplanck Chambers (Harrison School for the Arts) and Chair-Elect Timothy B. Darby (Darby Law Group, P.A.), 31 participants officially graduated on May 11, 2017. More than 150 alumni and friends attended the invitation-only Leadership Lakeland Graduation & Banquet at The Lakeland Center. Beginning in August, the class members undertook a rigorous schedule including overnight and full-day programs to immerse themselves in the community and in the development of leadership skills. Congratulations to the graduates of Leadership Lakeland Class XXXIV:

  • Lyle L. Bowlin, Jannetides College of Business & Entrepreneurial Leadership, Southeastern University
  • Scarlett Bowman, Spectrum Business
  • James W. Brown, Compass Mortgage LLC
  • James J. Butler Jr., Watson Clinic LLP
  • Michael Clanton, CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A.
  • Jason DeMeo, We Are Curio
  • Christine Ehlenbeck, Keller Williams Realty
  • Katherine Fitzwater, Curious Jane
  • Jill M. Gable, Madden Branded Goods
  • Ashley Ann Green, Sunrise Community
  • Lance Green, Lakeland Regional Health
  • Elisa Turner Harden, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
  • Michelle Maenza Hinds, Hall Communications, Inc.
  • Craig Stephen Hosking, Maximize Digital Media
  • Michael Huff, A.D. Morgan Corporation
  • Dana B. Hurley, Allen & Company of Florida Inc.
  • Matthew David Jones, GrayRobinson, P.A.
  • Silvana Knight, EXIT Realty of Lakeland
  • Arthur A. Martinez, Lakeland High School
  • Frank Dee McCaulley III, Trinity Presbyterian Church
  • Alison Midili Smith, Publix Super Markets Inc.
  • Robert Thomas Pericht, Saddle Creek Logistics Services
  • Emily Plank, Emily Plank Photography
  • CW2 James L. Ring, 383rd Military Police Detachment (CID)
  • Lisa Strollo Ruthven, The Ruthvens
  • Virginia Sigle, Boring Business Systems
  • Nicole B. Travis, City of Lakeland
  • Alan H. Turner II, United Way of Central Florida
  • Stacy Walsh, YMCA of West Central Florida
  • Marilyn Watson, Bank of Central Florida
  • Sarah Breed, Lakeland Chamber of Commerce

Leadership Lakeland is an annual program designed to identify leadership and enhance existing leadership in our community. The program unites leaders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to improve their ability to lead effectively, offering its members a broad range of experiences and insights about the community, its people, its needs, and its services.


GrowFL Announces 2017 Florida Companies to Watch Finalists 

2015 Madrid Logo small cropped

Madrid Engineering Group, Inc. Among Second-Stage Businesses Competing to Earn Prestigious Honor

(Bartow, Fla.) Madrid Engineering Group, Inc. was among the first round of 2017 Florida Companies to Watch finalists recently announced by GrowFL. The awards event – now in its seventh year – honors 50 select second-stage companies from throughout the state for developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities, and broadening new industries throughout Florida. Chosen from a candidate pool of more than 800 nominations, the finalists collectively represent $598 million in annual revenue and employ 3,200 full-time equivalent employees.

The company founder and president, Larry Madrid, said “being a finalist for GrowFL’s 2017 Companies to Watch is certainly a high honor. I think of it as a confirmation that the direction we are currently going is the right one for us. Our plan is to grow revenue by offering a wider range of services to a broader group of clients.” Not only is Madrid providing more services including geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, and construction engineering inspection (CEI), they are also providing technical assistance for a new roadway technology called CONSOLID, which uses polymers to chemically stabilize roadway construction materials. “This new technology could literally change the way roads are constructed in the US”, says Madrid, who claims his test results show that roads constructed using CONSOLID are stronger and less susceptible to water damage.

The Florida Companies To Watch program consists of two rounds of selections. Finalists now advance to the second round, where they will be further evaluated based on their performance in the marketplace, innovative products, services or processes, philanthropy and empowered employees.

“We applaud these first round finalists who have shown how they stand out in their regions as innovative business leaders, going to the next level to grow their companies.   They are true rock stars,” says Dr. Tom O’Neal, GrowFL Executive Director.

The Finalists represent a unique group of scalable, high-growth enterprises that are already located within Florida. These high growth enterprises are an important segment of our economy and their numbers have been steadily increasing, which contributed to Florida’s ranking of 24 on the Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship. According to this report, “entrepreneurship is not a monolithic phenomenon, and it includes many moving parts. Creating new businesses is a different economic activity from running small businesses, which in turn is different from growing businesses.” Florida Companies to Watch recognizes the different approach needed to successfully grow and scale a business, and celebrates those that are working to achieve this goal.

Presented by GrowFL and developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation, Florida Companies To Watch is a distinguished awards program specifically designed to seek out second-stage businesses from a wide range of industries representing all areas of the state, not just those in major metropolitan areas. In addition to evaluating past growth and projected success, applicant companies are judged according to their special strengths and impact in their markets, communities and within the state – thus deeming them “worth watching.”

The winners will be announced in MID July. The 2017 honorees will be celebrated at the awards ceremony October 14th at The Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, FL.

For more information visit


Additional information about Madrid Engineering Group, Inc.:

Madrid Engineering Group, Inc. (MEG) is a 25-year old minority owned business located in Florida and serving the southeast US in the fields of geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, geology, and construction engineering inspection (CEI). The company has 45 employees and an office location in Bartow (central Florida). MEG has completed over 8000 projects primarily in central Florida but spanning the entire state. Madrid has an in-house fleet of track and truck-mounted drill rigs for SPT and auger sampling (by land or barge), well installation, etc. and a CMEC- and AASHTO-certified soils and materials laboratory.


Highlighting their technical capabilities and innovation, Madrid Engineering won Project of the Year in 2014 and 2016 from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Ridge Branch for shallow soil mixing and specialty deep foundation design, respectively. They are currently working on some exciting and challenging projects using innovative soil stabilization technologies such as GeoFoam®; lightweight cellular concrete; PhosphoCrete ™; wick drains; and CONSOLID. The company has been honored as a Best Place to Work for 4 of the last 5 years, and is an Employer of Distinction, so honored this year by Career Source Polk.


About GrowFL

GrowFL was created in 2009 as an economic development program focused on assisting second-stage growth companies prosper in the state of Florida. By providing strategies, resources and support to second-stage companies for next level growth through Strategic Research, Peer Learning and Leadership Development, GrowFL helps companies overcome obstacles to growth and leads them towards prosperity. Based on the philosophy of Economic Gardening® – to grow existing businesses in a community, region or state – GrowFL, the Florida Economic Gardening Institute, is a critical component to the state’s economic development strategy and Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. GrowFL is a statewide economic development organization certified by the National Center for Economic Gardening through the Edward Lowe Foundation. GrowFL has assisted more than 1000 companies through the Strategic Research and CEO Roundtable programs and recognized 300 successful entrepreneurs through the annual awards program, Florida Companies to Watch. Learn more at


About Edward Lowe Foundation

Established in 1985, the Edward Lowe Foundation is a national, nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurship through research, recognition and educational programs, which are delivered through entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs). The foundation focuses on second-stage companies – those that have moved beyond the startup phase and seek significant, steady growth. In addition, the foundation has a mission of land stewardship and is committed to preserving the natural resources and historically significant structures at Big Rock Valley, its 2,000-acre home in southwest Michigan. Learn more at



Florida State League All-Star Tickets On Sale Now

All Star Game Logo

Florida State League’s 56th Annual Game Scheduled for June 17

Lakeland, FL – The Lakeland Flying Tigers have been selected to host the 2017 Florida State League (FSL) All-Star Game on Saturday, June 17 at the newly renovated Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Lakeland has previously hosted the game in 1960, 1999 and 2006.

The All-Star Game will feature two teams comprised of some of the best prospects in baseball from the North and South Divisions. The North Division includes the Lakeland Flying Tigers (Tigers), Clearwater Threshers (Phillies), Daytona Tortugas (Reds), Dunedin Blue Jays, Tampa Yankees and the newly relocated team in Osceola County (Braves). The South Division is made up of the Bradenton Marauders (Pirates), Charlotte Stone Crabs (Rays), Fort Myers Miracle (Twins), Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins), Palm Beach Cardinals and St. Lucie Mets.

A Home Run Derby will precede the All-Star Game on Saturday, June 17 and a spectacular fireworks show will follow the game. Special All-Star events will be scheduled throughout the weekend in Lakeland. More details about the All-Star Game and festivities will be released in the coming months.

Recent Major League All-Star players who have played in the FSL All-Star Game include Robinson Cano, Adrian Beltre, David Wright, Noah Syndergaard, Curtis Granderson, Wade

Davis, Ryan Braun, Joe Mauer, Jay Bruce, Jose Reyes, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Brett Gardner, Johnny Cueto, Starlin Castro, Jonathan Papelbon, Alex Colome, Russell Martin, Stephen Vogt, Marcel Ozuna and A.J. Ramos.

Recent Detroit Tigers players who were selected to the FSL All-Star Game include Justin Verlander (2005), Cameron Maybin (2007), Bruce Rondon (2012), Shane Greene (2013), Kyle Ryan (2013), Daniel Norris (2014) and Jacoby Jones (2015).

The Flying Tigers are a Class A Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Updates and news on the 2017 FSL All-Star Game can be found periodically by visiting the Flying Tigers online at or call (863) 686-8075 for more information.

All-Star Game Ticket Package-page-001


The Lakeland Center to Become the RP Funding Center

Mortgage Lender Signs 5-Year Naming Rights Deal 

Lakeland, FL ? The Lakeland Center; home to the Lakeland Magic (NBA D-League), Florida Tropics (Major Arena Soccer League), the Florida High School Basketball Championships, as well as other entertainment, sporting, meeting, cultural and special events; will become the RP Funding Center. The re-naming announcement came from the City of Lakeland today and reflects a multi-year alliance formed by RP Funding, the City of Lakeland and the Lakeland Magic.

RP Funding, part of the Robert Palmer Companies, is a direct mortgage lender that underwrites, closes and funds its own loans. RP Funding was also recently announced as the Lakeland Magic’s Founding Partner.

“We’re thrilled to forge this partnership with the City of Lakeland and the Lakeland Magic,” said RP Funding President/Owner Robert Palmer. “As a Lakeland native, I’m excited about making an impact in my hometown and the opportunities this partnership provides with the City and the Magic while building and growing RP Funding in Central Florida and beyond.”

RP Funding will receive exterior and interior building signage along with television, radio, print and social media promotion. The 5-year naming rights agreement will generate additional revenue toward the operation and maintenance of the facility.

“We’re pleased to generate additional revenue sources, continuing our goal to operate a self-sustaining venue,” said RP Funding Center Executive Director Tony Camarillo. “With more than 500 events per year, we are confident the RP Funding Center will continue to serve as a key venue for Lakeland’s sporting, meeting, entertainment, cultural and special events.”

“We’re looking forward to many memorable moments ahead in the RP Funding Center,” said Lakeland Magic President Shelly Wilkes. “RP Funding represents the excellence we strive for in bringing our product to our fans and stakeholders. We are excited to bring RP Funding on board. This is a win-win-win situation for the City of Lakeland, RP Funding and the Lakeland Magic.”

The RP Funding Center (formerly The Lakeland Center) is a multi-purpose entertainment complex featuring the 8,000 seat Jenkins Arena, 2,200 seat Youkey Theatre and 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space. The facility hosts a wide variety of events ranging from nationally renowned artists, family shows,
athletic events, trade shows, conventions, weddings and ride-and-drive showcases.

Owned and operated by the City of Lakeland, the facility opened as The Lakeland Civic Center 1974 and was re-named The Lakeland Center in June of 1996 after adding more exhibition, conference and meeting space.

Based in Central Florida, Robert Palmer Companies is involved in the financing, marketing and escrow of more than $5 billion in residential real estate. The company has a combined staff of nearly 400 and revenues of $100 million annually. In addition to RP Funding, one of the leading direct mortgage lenders in Central Florida, the Robert Palmer Companies also features RP Title and Escrow providing residential and commercial real estate closing services; ‘Saving Thousands’ radio program and ARMR Appraisal Management, a full-service residential real estate appraisal management company. Most recently, Robert Palmer Companies launched two marketing-tech companies:, which provides personalized reports on homeowners’ property values from a local real estate agent and Listing Power Tools, a company that helps real estate agents craft the perfect listing presentation. For more information visit

The RP Funding Center is Central Florida’s convention, sports, lifestyle and entertainment destination. The facility is conveniently located minutes between Orlando and Tampa in Lakeland, Florida off I-4 on Lime Street; the RP Funding Center is a short drive from anywhere in Central Florida. Regular box office hours are Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 863.834.8111, our toll-free line at 888.397.0100 or visit

On December 14, 2016 the Orlando Magic and the NBA Development League (D-League) announced that the Magic purchased the Erie BayHawks with plans to relocate the team to Lakeland, Florida and begin play during the 2017-18 season. With the purchase, the Magic became the 17th NBA team to own and operate their NBA G-League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic. The franchise will play its 24 home games at the RP Funding Center. The Lakeland Magic season is made up of 50 regular-season games plus a postseason and runs from November to April. Season ticket deposits for the 2017-18 season are now being accepted by calling 863-325-3258 or logging on to