Category Archives: Chamber News


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



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.




–    # # #   -