Category Archives: Award Winners

Small Business of the Month award winners.

Stein-hoisting competition

Suncoast Credit Union SwantoberFest Enjoyed by Lakeland Residents

Lakeland residents celebrated Oktoberfest-style in Munn Park downtown at the inaugural Suncoast Credit Union SwantoberFest on Saturday, September 22.  Attendance for the first-time event was 2,500 – exceeding our estimation.  Our generous sponsors made the event possible – especially Suncoast Credit Union and their team.  They embraced their new community in Lakeland with flair and gusto.  To kick off the event, Community Relations Director Mary W. McDonald took the stage, called for anyone associated with a non-profit to come up to the stage, and then donated $1,000 to a Meals on Wheels representative!

Mary McDonald, Suncoast Credit Union

Mary McDonald, Suncoast Credit Union

Thanks to Bernie Little Distributors and Budweiser, our volunteers sold more than 2,000 beer and cider – Goose Island Oktoberfest beer, Woodchuck Hard Cider, Beck’s, Stella Artois, Bud, Bud Light, and Michelob over four hours.  Delicious, traditional German food was graciously prepared and served by two local Rotary Clubs – Rotary Club of Lakeland Christina and Rotary Club of Lakeland North.  With help from Tony Perry, Master Griller of 92 BBQ at PigFest, and the Interact Club volunteers – the Rotarians served over 750 bratwursts and sauerkraut!

Tony Perry at the smoker

Tony Perry at the smoker

Live music by the Europa Band was a crowd pleaser along with the Outrageous Olympiad competitions – stein-hoisting, mustache competition, the brat(wurst) toss, and the Treasure Hunt.

Winners of the brat toss!

Winners of the brat toss!

Stein-hoisting competition

Stein-hoisting competition

This community-wide event in Munn Park was free to attend and featured a business expo as an opportunity for member-investors to engage directly with the community in a family-friendly setting.


Families enjoying the event

Families enjoying the event

Rotary Club of Lakeland Christina, Rotary Club of Lakeland North, and the Interact Club prepare and serve German food.

Rotary Club of Lakeland Christina, Rotary Club of Lakeland North, and the Interact Club prepare and serve German food.

Fields Auto Group with BMW and Mercedes-Benz on display

Fields Auto Group with BMW and Mercedes-Benz on display

The Europa Band

The Europa Band

Beer Tent by Budweiser

Beer Tent by Budweiser


Winners of Mustache (& Beard) Competition

Winners of Mustache (& Beard) Competition

Beautiful downtown Lakeland

Beautiful downtown Lakeland



Florida SBDC at USF Receives SunTrust Foundation’s 2018 Lighting the Way Award and $75,000 Grant

[TAMPA], October 18, 2018 – Recognized for its philanthropic contributions to the Tampa Bay region, the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida was awarded a 2018 Lighting the Way Award and $75,000 grant by the SunTrust Foundation.

The SunTrust Foundation’s Lighting the Way Awards recognizes select nonprofit organizations that strengthen their local communities through programs that help people better their circumstances and gain financial confidence.

“We’re committed to building stronger communities, and our nonprofit partners are addressing community needs in innovative and very meaningful ways,” said Stan Little, president of the SunTrust Foundation. “The Florida SBDC at USF is improving the lives of many people, and we applaud their mission, long-term service and the impact they’re making where it’s most needed.”

Eileen Rodriguez, regional director of the Florida SBDC at USF, and Kaushal Chari, associate dean of research and professional programs at University of South Florida Muma College of Business, were on hand in Atlanta for the awards ceremony Wednesday evening.

“We really appreciate Suntrust Foundation recognizing us for all of the work we’ve done with small businesses that want to expand both domestically and internationally,” she said. “This will help our businesses take advantage of international markets so that they can expand and grow.”

Grant funds will be used to assist small businesses in the Tampa Bay region, in taking advantage of international opportunities that already exist in the market. It will also allow the Center to continue to provide government contracting technical assistance to businesses so that they can take advantage of opportunities that exist with local, state and federal entities.

Established in 2008, the SunTrust Foundation is committed to supporting a wide range of financial well- being efforts through grants and partnerships with local philanthropic organizations. To date, the SunTrust Foundation has awarded more than $140 million in grants to organizations across the United States.

Pictured (L-R): Kaushal Chari, associate dean of research and professional programs for USF Muma College of Business; Eileen Rodriguez, regional director of the Florida SBDC at USF; and Scott Cathcart, Suntrust chairman and CEO, Florida Division

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About the Florida SBDC Network: 

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide emerging and established business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for the state. Since 2011, Florida SBDCs have provided 513,107 hours of consulting to 74,669 client businesses, resulting in 252,955 jobs created, retained and saved; $33.3 billion in sales growth; $2.6 billion in government contract awards; $1.4 billion in capital investments; and 4,159 new businesses started. A statewide network of over 40 centers, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners, with the University of West Florida serving as the network’s headquarters. The Florida SBDC Network is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit

About the SunTrust Foundation

The SunTrust Foundation is dedicated to SunTrust Bank’s purpose of Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being by engaging organizations to advance financial confidence. Grants and activities focus primarily on financial empowerment, but also include education, health and human services, civic improvement and cultural growth. The SunTrust Foundation supports American Red Cross disaster relief efforts and contributes as a United Way Global Corporate Leader. Established in 2008, the SunTrust Foundation has proudly provided grants totaling more than $140 million throughout the United States.


Lakeland Regional Health Named Best Large Hospital Workplace in Florida




Lakeland, FL – Lakeland Regional Health is pleased to share it was named Best Hospital Workplace with 150-plus beds by the Florida Hospital Association. The award was announced Thursday night at FHA’s annual meeting and awards presentation.

Each year, the Florida Hospital Association recognizes leaders and teams in healthcare who contribute to the mission of providing quality care for the people of Florida.

“We work diligently to make sure we are providing our team members with meaningful careers, not just jobs,” said Scott Dimmick, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Lakeland Regional Health Senior Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer. “We are so proud to be honored for the enterprise and intention we put into revitalizing our initiatives to ensure that team members feel they are rewarded and treasured.”

Among the initiatives earning Lakeland Regional Health the award are a competitive benefits package, robust compensation and rewards program, and highly sought-after career development programs.

FHA presented awards to 10 individuals and teams that achieved notable success this year in improving patient care and contributing to their communities.

“We are delighted to recognize hospital leaders, volunteers and teams who deliver exceptional care to our patients and communities,” said Bruce Rueben, Florida Hospital Association President. “Their effort demonstrates Florida hospitals’ commitment to better care and better health for all Floridians.”

With an estimated workforce of 5,400 team members, Lakeland Regional Health is the second largest private employer in Polk County.

Lakeland Regional Health is nationally recognized for its workplace engagement, earning workplace awards from Forbes, Gallup and Becker’s Hospital Review.

About Lakeland Regional Health

Not-for-profit Lakeland Regional Health reaches beyond its hospital walls to promote wellness, education and discovery in new places and new ways, providing a wide range of inpatient and outpatient healthcare services at its Medical Center, Hollis Cancer Center and ambulatory care locations. Lakeland Regional Health earned Most Wired Advanced and Most Wired status four times since 2013 from the American Hospital Association and has earned workplace awards from Forbes, Gallup and Becker’s Hospital Review. Its 864-bed comprehensive tertiary referral hospital, Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, operates a Level II Trauma Center; the Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children, which includes a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; the Jack and Tina Harrell Family Institute for Advanced Cardiovascular Medicine; and the Bannasch Institute for Advanced Rehabilitation Medicine.

About the Florida Hospital Association

The Florida Hospital Association comprises over 200 hospitals and health systems from across the state. Through representation and advocacy, education, and informational services, it supports the mission of its members to provide the highest quality of care to patients. For more information, visit


Aerospace Discovery Manager Awarded State Recognition

October 4, 2018 Lakeland, Florida: Each year the Florida Association of Museums (FAM) recognizes outstanding contributions to the museum profession in the State of Florida. Awards recognize museum staff, volunteers, or trustees, as well as individuals outside the museum profession who make significant contributions to the advancement of Florida’s museums, either locally or statewide.

Jayme Jamison, Aerospace Discovery Manager for the Aerospace Center for Excellence, was recognized as the 2018 Outstanding New Professional at an Awards Ceremony held during the Annual FAM Conference. Awarded to individuals who have been working in the museum field for five years or less, the honor recognizes Jayme’s commitment to producing valuable and engaging content for the museum audience. Nominated by the Aerospace Center for Excellence and LuAnn Mims from the Lakeland Public Library, this recognition not only honors Jayme’s work at Aerospace Discovery but also for her collaboration with community partners at the Lakeland Public Library, Polk County History Center, International Council of Airshows and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. As LuAnn noted in her nomination, Jayme’s “commitment to the community’s education shines through in all that she does.” The awards ceremony was held on October 2nd at the Naples Botanical Garden where Jayme received a certificate of recognition and a bowl hand carved from a Royal Poinciana tree that fell at the gardens during Hurricane Irma. Please join us in congratulating Jayme and all the honorees.

About Aerospace Center for Excellence, Inc.:
The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has emerged as a nationally recognized leader in STEM-related and aerospace education through its various learning centers, outreach programs, summer camps and scholarships aimed at preparing students for tomorrow’s aerospace challenges. Located on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus in Lakeland, Florida, the organization is known for its annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo fundraising event as well as the Aerospace Discovery Museum which is Florida’s Official Aviation Museum and Education Center. ACE is the world’s leader in producing licensed teenage private pilots and delivers youth programs that engage over 30,000 students a year. For more information,


Saint Leo University Named As Best Value in South for 2019 by U.S. News

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LEO, FL – Saint Leo University was named as one of the best regional universities and best values in higher education in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges, which was released Sept. 10. In addition, Saint Leo was named one of the Best Colleges for Veterans.

The university was No. 14 among Best Value Schools in the South. To determine which colleges and universities offer the best value for students, U.S. News takes into account both academic quality and cost.

This year, Saint Leo also claimed its spot in the top 50 “Best Regional Universities” and ranked 47th among Southern universities. This rank is up from last year’s rank of 61st among universities in the South. Regional universities offer a full range of undergraduate programs and provide graduate education at the master’s level. Saint Leo also offers three doctoral programs.

To receive a “Best Value School” ranking, U.S. News calculated the university’s academic quality as indicated by its 2019 U.S. News Best Colleges ranking, and the 2017-2018 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. “The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal,” U.S. News & Report stated in its listings. “Only schools ranked in or near the top half of their categories are included because U.S. News considers the most significant values to be among colleges that are above average academically.”

The university also was named one of the Best Colleges for Veterans among regional universities in the South, ranking 31st. Saint Leo has a proud history of educating veterans and military students. Schools named to the list participate in federal initiatives helping veterans and active-duty servicemembers pay for their degrees.

“Saint Leo University provides a terrific educational value for students of all ages and from all backgrounds, and we are pleased that the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings recognize the quality and excellence offered by the university,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Senese, university president. “We’re proud of our Catholic heritage and commitment to higher education. These rankings point to our student-centered mission, our caring faculty and staff, and our dedication to student success.”

For information about Best Colleges 2019, visit

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University ( is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. Saint Leo welcomes people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourages learners of all generations. The university is committed to providing educational opportunities to the nation’s armed forces, veterans, and their families. Saint Leo is regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and the faculty and staff guide all students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.


The university remains the faithful steward of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where its founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving more than 13,000 students, Saint Leo has expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintains a physical presence in seven states. The university provides highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 93,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.