Category Archives: Chamber News



LAKELAND, FLORIDA (February 20, 2018) — Due to a scheduling conflict, R. Joseph Childs will not attend the Third Annual CEO Roundtable. In his place, Grant Nieddu, The Spark { SITES } Project, will take Mr. Childs’ spot on the panel. This event allows students of the local Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Polk (YEA! Polk) to explore issues regarding entrepreneurship – including addressing specific challenges, sharing stories of success and failure, and discussing the power of networking.

The five local CEOs providing advice and insight are:

  • Gary Claville, Retired-President, Dixie-Southern Constructors, Inc.
  • Katherine Lake, Chief Connections Officer, My Office & More
  • Marsha Leap, President, Leap Ahead Professional Development, LLC
  • Chrissanne Long, CEO and Co-Owner, Maximize Digital Media
  • Grant Nieddu, Chief Spark Instigator, The Spark { SITES } Project

The CEOs are volunteering their time to speak with the fourteen students in the 2017-18 academic year of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Polk, or YEA! Polk, in a roundtable setting, hosted by Lakeland Chamber member Kate Lake at her business My Office & More. “It is our privilege to partner with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. Those students inspire us as we continue our mission to educate others about business,” says Kate.

The program will be moderated by Ken Farris, Counselor, at Central Florida SCORE, and also an instructor for the YEA! Polk program. This year, the businesses that the students are trying to launch include an irrigation system, and I.D. tag for beverages, drone services, adjustable school uniforms that “grow” with you, an app to help Boy Scouts – and several more.Copy of CEO Roundtable (1)

The CEO Roundtable for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Polk is scheduled for Wednesday, February 21, 2018 from 5:30 – 7:00 pm, in the Meeting Room at My Office & More in Downtown Lakeland. The event is free and open to the public, with registration required: or at under the Events tab.

Thank you to our Investor Sponsors that make this program possible:  Allen & Company of Florida, Inc., Jannetides College of Business & Entrepreneurial Leadership, Publix Super Markets, Inc., Suncoast Credit Union, and SunTrust Bank.

YEA! teaches kids ages 11 to 18 how to identify their passions, develop a business idea, write a business plan, pitch investors for funding, and obtain all the necessary components to create a fully, formed and functioning business or social movement by the end of the 30-week class.

Young Entrepreneurs Academy
The Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is a 501(C) 3 offering groundbreaking year-long classes that teach middle and high school students how to start and run their own businesses. Throughout the class, students develop business ideas, write business plans, conduct market research, pitch their plans to a panel of investors for startup funds, and launch and run their own, fully formed companies and social movements. The project-based program empowers students to take charge of their futures. Founded in 2004 at the University of Rochester with support from the Kauffman Foundation, YEA! today serves thousands of students nationwide. In 2011, the United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation became a national sponsor and partner of the Academy to help celebrate the spirit of enterprise among today’s youth and tomorrow’s future leaders. YEA! bridges the business and educational communities to fulfill its mission of teaching more students how to make a job, not just take a job. YEA! is made possible by The Kauffman Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the E. Philip Saunders Foundation. For more information, visit

Lakeland Chamber of Commerce

The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce represents 1,400 member businesses in the Lakeland area and provides opportunities for networking, professional development and advocacy for companies of all sizes. Five-Star Accredited by the US Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber upholds the following vision and mission statements: Vision Statement – The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce will be the premier catalyst for the advancement of Lakeland’s economic growth and enhancement of quality of life– creating Florida’s community of choice. Mission Statement – The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce is the leading organization dedicated to creating a climate where business can prosper.



Lakeland Chamber Members Receive Recognition for Strong Tobacco Policies

Tobacco Free Polk Logo-01The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the following companies for participating in the Chamber’s 2017 Smoke Free Business Initiative, sponsored by Tobacco Free Polk:

  • Burnetti, P.A.
  • Boring Business Systems
  • CPS Investment Advisors
  • Explorations V Children’s Museum
  • GiveWell Community Foundation
  • State Farm/Julie Gilileo
  • Lakeland Regional Health
  • Lanier Upshaw, Inc.
  • ORB Engineering, Inc.
  • Polk County Public Schools
  • Polk Museum of Art

We would also like to highlight several companies with Outstanding Tobacco Policies that include Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS—electronic cigarettes), Tobacco No Hire Policy, or Smoke Free/Tobacco Free Grounds: Boring Business Systems, CPS Investment Advisors, GiveWell Community Foundation, Lanier Upshaw, Inc., Lakeland Regional Health, and Polk County Public Schools.

In addition, Lakeland Regional Health and Polk County Public Schools also qualify for the Florida Tobacco Cessation Alliance’s Gold Level Award. We are thrilled to report that LRH is the recipient of the Gold Level Award, and is the first to receive the Gold Award in Polk and the 12th in all of Florida.

This initiative was created to recognize businesses for having a strong tobacco policy that also offers employees using tobacco the tools needed to help them quit. The businesses above completed the Tobacco Free Florida Worksite Wellness Assessment with the help of Tobacco Free Polk staff.

If your business would like to fill out the form in 2018, please contact Juli Davis at or (863) 578-2157. All Chamber businesses that complete the assessment, whether or not they qualify for the award, will receive two free tickets to an upcoming Lakeland Chamber Business After Hours event.


Continuing Education Credit for Certified Financial Planners Available at Local Economic Forecast Breakfast

Allen & Company of Florida, Inc., the oldest investment firm in Florida, has been approved to provide Continuing Education Credits for Florida Certified Financial Planners™ (CFP®s) for attending the 31st Annual Breakfast. The morning event will be held at the RP Funding Center on Thursday, January 18, 2018. Florida CFP®s interested in earning up to 2.0 credits for the event must pre-register online. At the event, they must specify their intent at the Allen & Company registration desk and receive a form that will need to be authorized at the registration desk after the event.

“This past year has certainly been showered with events that continue to impact Americans”, comments Ralph Allen, Chairman of Allen & Company of Florida, Inc. He further comments, “from historical hurricane activity in 2017 to unrelenting violence on both foreign and homeland soil. These events define our thoughts, our actions and sometimes our financial well being.” How these global stories influence the economies and ultimately our day-to-day lives is important to understand.

Chief Economist Brian Wesbury of First Trust Advisors, L.P., a nationally recognized economist, will return as our guest speaker for the 31st Annual Economic Forecast Breakfast sponsored by Allen & Company of Florida, Inc. Reporting the regional perspective is Dr. Tony Villamil, a nationally recognized business economist, with over thirty-five years of successful career as a senior economist, university Dean and high-level policymaker for both federal and state governments.

The doors will open at 6:45am for registration and breakfast at the RP Funding Center (formerly the Lakeland Center). Please register online at ( where you will find all the details for the event.


Lakeland Chamber to Host Gala to Support Business Community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:gala logo stacked

December 20, 2017

Lakeland Chamber to Host Gala to Support Business Community

The Lakeland Chamber will host its first gala entitled “Mad Hatter’s Ball” to benefit the Chamber’s Foundation.

This black-tie gala will celebrate The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce’s continued focus on business and increased programming to benefit the Lakeland business community. It will feature dinner, live musical entertainment, and dancing. Proceeds from the gala will directly benefit new initiatives offered by the Lakeland Chamber Foundation. These initiatives will focus on workforce development, new business development, talent development, and leadership pipelines. The premier program “Skills Gap” will offer socioeconomically disadvantaged workers the opportunity to acquire the education necessary to fill the need for skilled workers in our community.

The gala will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018, from 6:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. at Haus 820, 820 N Massachusetts Ave, Lakeland, FL 33801.

For more information about serving on the gala planning committee or providing a charitable contribution via sponsorship or purchasing tickets, contact Darla Sechrest Pettaway at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce at (863) 688-8551, Ext. 228, or


About the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The Lakeland Chamber Foundation is one of the greatest assets this Chamber has in serving the diverse needs of our community. Founded in 1973 as a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization, the Foundation serves to support worthwhile community and education betterment initiatives. Through the generous contributions of member businesses and individuals, the Foundation is able to award small grants to not-for-profit organizations in the Lakeland area to support specific community and education betterment projects. All funds donated to the Lakeland Chamber Foundation are a charitable contribution with the exception of non-gift items such as meals at Lakeland Chamber Foundation events.


About the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce

Since 1921, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce has served as an advocate for business. The Chamber is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating a climate where business can prosper. The Lakeland Chamber is the largest Chamber of Commerce in Polk County with more than 1,400 investor businesses. The Lakeland Chamber continues to be an integral component of the Lakeland community by offering a wide variety of programs and initiatives that positively impact the economic vitality and quality of life in our region. Our investors capitalize on the contacts, resources, and support provided by the Chamber.


Central Florida SCORE and Lakeland Chamber 2018 Workshops Set

Central Florida SCORE is your local chapter of a national organization of volunteers who are experienced in business and dedicated to mentoring startups and existing businesses.  SCORE started in 1964 as Service Corps of Retired Executives, and currently has more than 300 chapters nationally and over 10,000 volunteers spanning all fields of business and expertise.   Both face to face and on-line mentoring are offered at no cost. Our educational workshops are valuable and relative to the growth of small business.  We are a resource partner sponsor of the Small Business Administration.

Below you will find a recap of our upcoming workshops which we partner with the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce.  You do not have to be a member of the Chamber to attend.

Central Florida SCORE has announced their Winter/Spring 2018 workshop series in partnership with the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce.  The workshops will be held the 4th Thursday, as follows:  January 25, Weave Your Web, Optimize Your Website; February 22, Leads with Linkedin; March 22, Leveraging Your Business with “The Cloud”; April 26, Increase Your Sales With Relationship Building; May 24, Balancing the Books for Growth, Simple Bookkeeping Setups.

Workshops are held at the Chamber, 35 Lake Morton Dr, Lakeland.  Registration will begin at 7:45 am Danish/Coffee, Workshop 8:00 – 9:30 am. Cost is $10.  Registration for series is now available at Take A Workshop link.   SCORE is a non-profit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and no cost, confidential mentoring. SCORE is sponsored by the Small Business Administration.  

For more information, please contact Becky Bywater, 863 838-1079


score workshops