Category Archives: Chamber News


Lakeland Chamber Announces New President

CorySkeatesHeadshotDuring their Board meeting on October 22, 2014, the Board of Directors of the Lakeland Area Chamber voted unanimously to hire Cory Skeates as the Chamber’s new President. 

Cory has served as President and CEO of the Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce in Oviedo, Florida, since 2007.  Prior to that, he worked in the legislative field as a campaign consultant and legislative aide to several state legislators.

Cory received his B.A. degree in Political Science from Grove City College in Pennsylvania, and earned a J.D. degree from the Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida.  He and his and wife, Shannon, have two daughters.

He will take over as President of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce in January.   Following the board’s vote, Chamber Chairman of the Board Tim Jackson made the following statement:  “After 27 years of dedicated service to our chamber and community, Kathleen Munson is retiring and a new era is beginning with the hiring of Cory Skeates as our next President.  We are excited to welcome Cory and his family to Lakeland, and look forward to his leadership.  Cory’s political background and chamber experience will provide Lakeland with a new vision of advocacy in representing the interests of our business community.”

The announcement culminated a six-month search process conducted by an independent search committee led by past Chamber chairman Paul Noris.  The search committee initially received 75 resumes in response to ads placed in state and national media outlets.  After vetting the pool of candidates down to 20 candidates, Skype interviews were conducted and three candidates were selected to continue with the interview process.  Over the past month, the search committee arranged for the candidates to interview with chamber and community stakeholders.

Based on their extensive interview process, the search committee voted to recommend that Cory Skeates be selected as the next President.  In presenting the recommendation, Paul Noris stated that “Our search committee went through a diligent process to identify the best candidate for the Chamber President position. We are confident that Cory’s selection will be a good fit for him, for our Chamber, and our community.  I look forward to his leadership as we strive to continue our Chamber’s long history of supporting the business community in Lakeland.”

Representing 1,700 member businesses in the Greater Lakeland area, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce is ranked the second largest chamber in the Tampa Bay region by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.  In 2009, the Chamber was awarded a Five-Star Accreditation rating by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  The organization is currently undergoing its 2014 accreditation evaluation.

Upon hearing the announcement, Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson issued the following statement:  “The Florida Chamber of Commerce congratulates the Lakeland Chamber for selecting Cory Skeates to lead Lakeland’s pro-jobs initiatives.  On a personal note, I’d like to thank Kathleen Munson for her years of partnership and leadership as we’ve worked on issues that have made Florida, and Lakeland, more competitive.”

SBDC USF-Chamber Award

Lakeland Chamber Receives Award from Florida SBDC at USF

SBDC USF-Chamber AwardToday, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce was recognized as the 2014 Outstanding Resource Partner by the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida (Florida SBDC at USF). Assistant director Bill McKown presented the award to Tim Jackson (NuJak Companies), chairman of the board.

The Outstanding Resource Partner is defined as an agency or organization that provided significant, direct contribution to the regional SBDC network with respect to advocacy, financial support, partnership building, or advising.  The Chamber was recognized for its unwavering advocacy of the Florida SBDC at USF and its generous financial support of in-kind services. This year, the Lakeland Chamber entered into an agreement with the Florida SBDC at USF to provide office space and resources for a Certified Business Consultant.

The Florida SBDC Network is state designated as Florida Principal Provider of Business Assistance. The Network is divided into ten regions with more than 40 locations from Pensacola to Key West. The network’s Performance Excellence Awards provide leadership the opportunity to recognize and demonstrate appreciation to personnel, volunteers and partners who contribute to the success of its mission.

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Chamber Hosts Small Business Week Celebration May 13

SBW Proclamation (1) 

Lakeland, FL – On Tuesday, May 13 at 8 a.m., small business owners are invited to participate in a special event showcasing the resources available to assist entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses.

This year’s Keynote Speaker is Todd Baylis, President and founder of Qgiv, a Lakeland based online giving platform which enables organizations throughout the country to quickly, securely and easily receive online, contextual and peer to peer donations, as well as to effectively accept event registrations. Additionally, he is President of Cipher, a managed network services and software development provider based in Central Florida. Cipher Integrations was also the recipient of the 2013 Scott Linder Small Business of the Year.

Following Todd’s presentation, our popular “Ask-the-Experts” session returns. Small business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to attend the free event where a unique “speed counseling” activity will give attendees 10-minute sessions with experts in legal, insurance, human resources, health care, and more. The Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida counselor will be on hand for questions and a “Social Media” discussion will also take place.

The event will be held on Tuesday, May 13 from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. in the Honeyman Pavilion at Florida Southern College (111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive). Pre-registration is encouraged by visiting

National Small Business week is proclaimed by the President of the United States to recognize the critical contributions of America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs. This year marks the 51st anniversary of the Small Business Administration’s signature event, with events held in multiple cities from coast-to-coast May 12-16.Facebook Event-01-01





DOWNLOAD: Technology and Growth Lessons from Small Business

Tech_OppAccording to a recent study by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), companies that lag in technology implementation are losing the race with “smarter” firms. BCG found that small and medium-sized firms in the “leader” category in such things as Internet connectivity and cloud-based services created nearly twice as many jobs and 15 percent more revenue than their “laggard” peers.

At the Lakeland Chamber, we would like to see our economy grow and our members prosper. I encourage you to look at the BCG study and get a better feel for the advantages of becoming better versed in technology.

Download the BCG study here.


Area Chambers Invited to USF Networking Event with Coach Willie Taggart

The University of South Florida and the North Tampa Chamber of Commerce invite you to a “Chamber Chatter” Mixer in the newly renovated Alumni Center at USF.

USF’s Head Football Coach will be the evening’s special guest at this free event.

Tuesday March 18 | 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

University of South Florida Alumni Center | 4402 E Fowler Ave, Tampa

RSVP to Marg Lamb at (813) 974-1570 by March 3.