Category Archives: Chamber Initiatives

Key Strategic Initiatives


Polk State Start Right Supply Giveaway to Prepare K-12, College Students for the School Year


Winter Haven, July 13, 2018 — The Polk State College Foundation and Polk State JD Alexander Center will host the second annual Start Right Campaign School Supply Giveaway event Saturday, July 28, at 9 a.m. in Lake Wales at 152 E. Central Ave., where students from kindergarten through college will each be eligible to receive a backpack stuffed with school supplies.
The event will also include food, music, and free haircuts provided by Gifted Cuts and Faded Fresh barbershops for students between the ages of 5 and 14.
Donations and supplies are needed, and can be provided by visiting or by delivering items to the Polk State JD Alexander Center by Monday, July 23.
The College launched the Start Right Campaign last year to help Lake Wales families provide school supplies to their students and to thank the Polk County community for its support of the Polk State JD Alexander Center.
“Many families struggle to provide their children with the school supplies they need. We want to lift that burden for parents and ensure that their students are prepared for a successful school year,” Polk State JD Alexander Center Director Andy Oguntola said. “We also want to give back to the community to say thank you for the continued support we receive from the residents of Polk County. We are grateful to be an integral part of this community, and we are proud to serve Lake Wales.”
The campaign plans to hand out 500 backpacks filled with supplies such as pencils, pens, notebooks, and paper, as well as a note of encouragement written by a Polk State student. One backpack per student will be available while supplies last.
Oguntola expressed sincere gratitude to the many donors, volunteers, and colleagues who have committed to ensuring the event is a success, including the Lake Wales Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee, Walmart, Duke Energy, CenterState Bank, The Story Companies, GST: The Family Church, and Wayne T. Fellows, Inc.
“Every contribution plays an important role in transforming lives through the power of philanthropy,” said Tracy Porter, Executive Director of the Polk State College Foundation. “Together, we are ensuring that students of all ages are ready for a successful school year.”
“Great beginnings lead to great futures,” she added, “allowing our community to soar.”
About Polk State College
Located in Winter Haven, Florida, and established in 1964, Polk State College is a multi-campus institution serving more than 16,000 students with Bachelor of Applied Science, Bachelor of Science, Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees, as well as a wide range of certificate and workforce training options.
The College also operates three charter high schools. Polk State’s advantages include small class sizes; hands-on learning; dedicated faculty; day and night classes; online options; affordable tuition; excellent financial aid; and a diverse community and vibrant student life, including fine arts opportunities, clubs, and intercollegiate athletics


Local and Regional Candidates to Participate in 2018 Hob Nob

LAKELAND, FL (July 12, 2018) – The 2018 Political Hob Nob being hosted at the Rocking H Ranch on Tuesday, August 14, 2018, provides an occasion to meet with local and state candidates and learn more about them.

In an effort to increase awareness of and participation in the elections process, the Lakeland Chamber provides this opportunity for the local community to speak with candidates and local clubs at their respective booths.  Attendees will vote in a Straw Poll administered by the Polk County Supervisor of Elections from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM with the results announced that evening at 7:45 PM.  Candidates will take the stage to introduce themselves.

The Rocking H Ranch provides the perfect “Old Florida” backdrop for the event.  Originally, an old Cattle Ranch, it now is one of the leading Agritourism spots in Florida.  Attendees will also enjoy great BBQ, beverages, valet parking and good company.

The event is made possible by underwriting from community-focused companies and organizations – Red Sponsors are Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A., Ledger Media Group, Rocking H Ranch, Spectrum Business; Gubernatorial Sponsors include A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure, Inc., Reed Mawhinney & Link, PLLC, and Watson Clinic LLP. Other sponsors and supporters are Bernie Little Distributors, BTB Catering, Lakeland Valet, Polk County Supervisor of Elections, WONN/WPCV/WLKF/WWRZ Radio, and (Linking Community Now Inc.).

Candidates may register for a Table until Tuesday, August 7, 2018 using this link or by visiting and clicking on the Events Calendar tab.

Tickets to the event are $25 with advance purchase and $30 if purchased at the door.  Corporate 10-Packs are available for $200.  Sponsorships are available.  Tickets can be purchased by using this link or by visiting and clicking on the Events Calendar tab.

Candidates and clubs that are currently registered to attend are listed below.  Candidates will be added to our event page as they register – please visit and click the Events Calendar tab to view.

Representative in Congress, District 15:

Neil Combee

Sean Harper

Danny Kushmer

Ed Shoemaker

Ross Spano

Kristen Carlson

Andrew P. Learned

Representative in Congress, District 17:

Greg Steube


Philip Levine

Attorney General:

Ashley Moody

State Senator, District 22:

Kelli Stargel

State Senator, District 26:

Catherine Price

State Representative, District 39:

Josie Tomkow

State Representative, District 40:

Colleen Burton

Shandale Terrell

State Representative, District 56:

Melony Bell

Jeff Mann

County Commissioner, District 2:

Kathryn “Kat” Gates-Skipper

Rick Wilson

County Commissioner, District 4:

Jim Guth

Martha Santiago

Circuit Judge, 10th Judicial Circuit, Group 10:

Lee Cohen

Melissa Gravitt

Circuit Judge, 10th Judicial Circuit, Group 11:

Dana Y. Moore

Stephen Paul Pinket

School Board, District 3:

Sarah Fortney

Scott Jones

LaTrice Moore

Kala Tedder

School Board, District 5:

Terry L. Clark

Kay Fields

Jennifer Sabin

School Board, District 7:

David Byrd

Lisa Miller

Clubs and Organizations:

The Republican Club of Lakeland

The Democratic Women’s Club of Lakeland

The Republican Women’s Club of Lakeland, Federated
Event Sponsors:

Red Sponsors

Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.

Rocking H Ranch

Ledger Media Group

Spectrum Business

Gubernatorial Sponsors

A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure

Reed Mawhinney & Link, PLLC

Watson Clinic LLP

Media Partners

Big 4 Radio – WONN/WPCV/WLKF/WWRZ Radio (Linking Community Now Inc.)

Exclusive Beer Sponsor

Bernie Little Distributor

Event Sponsors

BTB Catering

Lakeland Valet

Event Partner

Polk County Supervisor of Elections

Location:  Rocking H Ranch, 2200 Ewell Rd, Lakeland, FL  33811

Date/Time Information:  Tuesday, August 14, 2018, 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Contact Information:  Rebecca Fortier,


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.


Health Care Industry Job Fair Thursday July 12 in Auburndale

Health Care Industry Job Fair Slated for Thursday in Auburndale

Polk County, Florida, July 6, 2018 – The Central Florida Media   Group will host the Central Florida Health Care Job Fair on Thursday, July 12   between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The job fair will be held at the Auburndale Community Center at   405 Bennett Street in Auburndale located one block north of Magnolia Avenue   US-92 West.

Top area healthcare employers are looking to fill a wide variety   of healthcare related positions including physical therapists, medical   assistants, registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, licensed   practical nurses, occupational therapists, licensed health Insurance   representatives, home health aides and administrative staff.

The following employers will be participating in the event:    IMA Medical Center, Florida Cancer Specialist, Chapters Health System,   DaVita Medical Group, Solaris Healthcare, Brandywyne Health Care Center, Palm   Garden of Winter Haven, Winter Haven Health and Rehab, Ridge Technical   College, The Results Company, Centurion of Florida, Consulate Health Care, Jaycare A Palm Medical   Center, Health Care Advocates, and Helping Hands Nursing Services.

Employers will be looking to fill both entry-level and   experienced positions.  The Health Care Job Fair will also offer job   seekers looking to get started in the healthcare industry the opportunity to   explore training programs.

For more details about the event visit

About Central Florida Media Group

Central Florida Media Group is a marketing, advertising, and   publishing company located in Winter Haven, Fla. They publish seven   award-winning magazines, including Central Florida Health News, which   connects the consumer to the local healthcare community. For more   information, go to


DEO Releases Labor Market Info for May 2018

The Department of Economic Opportunity has released the Labor Market Information for the month of May, 2018. The national unemployment rate edged down again this past month to from 3.9 to 3.8 percent. Nationally approximately 223,000 jobs were created in the month of May.

Florida’s Unemployment Rate

Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also dipped slightly to match the national level at 3.8 percent which is 0.1 percent down from last month and still down 0.4%  from a year ago.

There were 391,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 10,217,000.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted total non-agricultural employment was 8,746, 800 (+.02 percent) over the month. The state gained 180,200 jobs over the year, an increase of 2.1 percent.

Polk County Nonagricultural Employment

The unemployment rate in the CareerSource Polk region (Polk County) remained stable at 3.7 percent in May 2018. This rate was lower  by 0.7 percent if compared to the region’s rate of 4.4 percent a year ago.

Out of a labor force of 300,200 there were 11,126 unemployed residents in the region. The non-agricultural employment in Lakeland-Winter Haven was 226,500 which is an increase of 5,900 jobs (+2.7 percent) over the year. This region had the fastest annual job growth rate if compared to all metro areas in the state in trade, transportation and utilities. The industries that showed the most growth were mining, logging and construction (+6.9 percent); professional and business services (+5.1 percent); trade, transportation and utilities (+30 percent); government had a slight increase at (+1.1 percent).

Industries gaining the most in number of jobs were: trade, transportation and utilities (+1,700 jobs); professional and business services (+1,500 jobs); mining, logging and construction (+900 jobs) and manufacturing which had an increase of (+500 jobs).

To view an interactive graph of Florida’s total nonagricultural employment, Click here

In May 2018 nonagricultural employment in the Lakeland?Winter Haven MSA was 226,500, an increase of 5,900 (+2.7 percent) over the year.

  • The Lakeland?Winter Haven MSA annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in professional and business services was 3.7 percent) in May 2018 which is an increase of .3 from last month.
  • The Lakeland-Winter Haven MSA had the third fastest annual job growth rate compared to all the metro areas in the state in trade, transportation, and utilities (+3.0 percent) in May 2018.
  • The mining, logging, and construction (+6.9 percent); professional and business services (+5.1 percent); trade, transportation, and utilities (+3.0 percent); other services (+1.7 percent); and government (+1.1 percent) industries grew faster in the metro area than statewide over the year.
  • The industries gaining in jobs over the year were: trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,700 jobs); professional and business services (+1,500 jobs); mining, logging, and construction (+900 jobs); manufacturing (+500 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+500 jobs); financial activities (+300 jobs); government (+300 jobs); education and health services (+100 jobs); and other services (+100 jobs).
  • The information industry was unchanged over the year.

Production Begins on “The One and Only Ivan”, an Adaptation of the Award Winning Book





Danny DeVito and Helen Mirren Join the Cast, Which Includes Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie, Sam Rockwell, Brooklynn Prince, Ramon Rodriquez, Arianna Greenblatt, Indira Varma and Eleanor Matsuura


 BURBANK, Calif. (May 1, 2018)—Production has commenced at Pinewood Studios outside London on “The One and Only Ivan,” a live-action/CG hybrid adaptation of the children’s book by Katherine Applegate directed by Thea Sharrock (“Me before You”). The screenplay is by two-time Independent Spirit Award winner Mike White (“Pitch Perfect 3,” “The School of Rock”) based on Applegate’s award-winning book and the producers are Oscar® and three-time Golden Globe® winner Angelina Jolie (“First They Killed My Father,” “Maleficent”), the late Allison Shearmur (“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” “Cinderella”) and Brigham Taylor (“Christopher Robin,” “The Jungle Book”).

“The One and Only Ivan” stars Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominee and four-time Emmy® winner Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo,” “Breaking Bad”); Ramon Rodriquez (“Iron Fist,” “The Defenders”); Arianna Greenblatt (“A Bad Moms Christmas”); Indira Varma (“Patrick Melrose,” “Exodus: Gods and Kings”); and Eleanor Matsuura (“Wonder Woman,” “Sherlock”).

The film features the vocal talents of Angelina Jolie, Academy Award® winner Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Moon”) and Critics’ Choice Award winner Brooklynn Prince (“The Florida Project”). Oscar® and three-time Golden Globe® winner Helen Mirren (“Winchester,” “The Queen”) and Emmy® and Golden Globe winner Danny DeVito (“Dumbo,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) have also signed on to voice characters in the film.

Based on the true story of a uniquely-talented gorilla and the other animals who share a communal habitat at a suburban shopping mall, “The One and Only Ivan” is an unforgettable tale about the beauty of friendship, the power of visualization and the significance of the place we call home. Applegate’s book, a #1 New York Times’ bestseller, has won numerous awards, including the Newberry Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children in 2013.

About Walt Disney Studios:

For over 90 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under the following banners: Disney, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel Studios; and Lucasfilm. The Disney Music Group encompasses the Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records labels, as well as Disney Music Publishing. The Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Disney on Broadway, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!.