Category Archives: Chamber News


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



The Young Entrepreneurs Academy of Polk County is in full session and students are endeavoring to fine tune their business ideas before January when the second phase of the Academy begins. In October, students kicked off class with a pizza party and ice breaker games at Southeastern University and ended the class with brainstorming ideas based on the students’ skills and passions. The class ended with a presentation by Dr. Daryl Ward, Harrison School of the Arts, about asking the “right” questions and the power of “Combinatorial Thinking.”







Mr. Patrick Dooley, Instructor for phase 1 of the Academy

The second class, the students – along with Instructor Patrick Dooley, a certified mentor with Central Florida SCORE – toured the campus of Florida Polytechnic University and continued brainstorming ideas with the guidance of Jason Heacock, Entrepreneurship Center Coordinator at Florida Poly, including a game called “Idea Jab” that encourages creative teamwork to fulfill a need for a specific market.







Students on Florida Polytechnic University fieldtrip

The students continue to work on their businesses and its feasibility – learning about market research, surveys, SWOT analysis, and strategy and implementation (product, price, place, and promotion) and the importance of creating a prototype and / or proof of concept for their business ideas. They were also introduced to the Business Plan and the importance of it.

Between the Thanksgiving and winter holidays, students will take a field trip to Jet’s Pizza of Lakeland to learn about food franchises and the food & beverage industry; discover financing strategies, design concepts, and legal services for small businesses with guest speaker Steve Aycock of Cygnet IP Law.

The 2017-18 academic year culminates with the Shark Tank Investor Panel in April and the Trade Show at the Lakeland Chamber Business After Hours in May.

The 2017-18 academic class consists of 14 students representing ages 12 to 18; five females, and 9 males; and, from all over Polk County. Schools represented include All Saints Academy, Haines City High School, Highlands Christian Academy, Lake Wales IB, Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, Mulberry High School, Polk State Gateway to College Collegiate High School, and Thomas Christian Academy.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy, a chapter of the Lakeland Chamber, is only the fifth chapter in Florida. LkldTV captures the magic of the program in their video from last year’s trade show:

The YEA! Polk Sponsors – Allen & Company of Florida, Inc, Citrus Center Kiwanis, and Maximize Digital – and, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce are helping to build the next generation of business leaders in Polk County.

The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is a 30-week program for students, ages 11-18, where students start and run their own business and form connections with community leaders. The program will feature guest speakers from businesses and five field trips. The program has three main sections: the big idea, the pitch and the launch. In the big idea phase, students brainstorm ideas, explore their passions, and learn how to evaluate a business opportunity.



The Florida Association of Chamber Professionals (FACP) recognized Florida’s top chambers of commerce throughout the state for their outstanding achievement and dedication to the industry. The awards were presented at the organization’s Annual Conference, held November 14-16, 2017, at the beautiful One Ocean Resort & Spa in Atlantic Beach.

Among the recognition given were the Certified Plus Designations. In, 2003, FACP implemented the distinction of Florida Certified Chamber to recognize standards of professional excellence in Florida. In 2012, the association enhanced its certification program to include a Certified Plus designation, for chambers of commerce that score an 86 or above during the judging process or are an Accredited Chamber through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both the Certified and Certified Plus designations recognize chambers that have met high standards and strengthened free enterprise by protecting the business environment.

This year, Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce and South Tampa Chamber of Commerce received the Certified Plus Chamber status. The Lakeland, Putnam County, Daytona Regional and Winter Haven Chambers of Commerce are Accredited Chambers of Commerce through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the South Tampa Chamber is a newly-Certified Plus chamber.

This year’s inductees join a long list of Certified and Certified Plus Chambers in Florida, representing the pinnacle standards of excellence in Organization Management, Service Intent and Capacity, Professional Administration, Financial Management, and Marketing/Public Relations. For a complete list, please visit and search under the Member Directory tab.

“The Florida Association of Chamber Professionals congratulates the recipients of this prestigious distinction,” said Tammy C. Bracewell, President of FACP.  “We are proud of each Chamber’s dedication and commitment to excellence within the business community.  The Certified Chamber of Commerce program sets standards within the industry and recognizes chambers that have met those standards while offering guidelines for those to improve their effectiveness.  In many ways, it is like the good housekeeping seal of approval for a chamber of commerce.”

The Certified Chamber of Commerce program is designed to promote the public awareness of the intent of the Chamber of Commerce brand as a not for profit community development based business membership organization.

FACP is a statewide organization whose mission is “Advancing excellence in chamber management” and whose vision is “Enhancing Florida’s business communities by cultivating successful chamber professionals.”

For more information, contact Tammy Bracewell, President, FACP, at 1-800-226-3269 or via email


Registration Open for Annual Economic Update

LAKELAND, FLORIDA (November 21, 2017) – “The ‘human condition’ is always to push forward for the better and economics is the study of that process.” 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 on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at the RP Funding Center.  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.

“This 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.

The doors will open at 6:45am for registration and breakfast at the RP Funding Center (formerly the Lakeland Center). This year all ticket purchases will be online.  Please register online at where you will find all the details for the event.  Student tickets and tables are available by contacting Rebecca Fortier at the Lakeland Chamber. The early bird pricing ends December 15th.

About Allen & Company of Florida, Inc.

Since 1932 Allen & Company of Florida, Inc. has provided financial planning and wealth management services to the communities we serve.  Headquartered in Lakeland, Florida, with operations in Winter Haven and Viera, Allen & Company is Florida’s oldest investment firm.

About the Lakeland Chamber

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:  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; and, the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce is the leading organization dedicated to creating a climate where business can prosper.




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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