Category Archives: Education & Talent Development

YEA! Polk Graduate Logan Soria, CEO of Stand Up!, Pitches to Investors


LAKELAND, FLORIDA (June 13, 2017) — The Young Entrepreneurs Academy is recruiting students for the Polk County chapter, only the fifth chapter in Florida, for the 2017-2018 school year.

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 pitch will be a five-minute presentation by the students to an investors’ panel, which is made up of sponsors. During the launch phase, students will open bank accounts and file for legal fictitious names. The students will display their products at a trade show in May 2018. LkldTV captures the magic of the program in their video from this year’s trade show

A recent graduate of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, 18-year-old Logan Soria, CEO/Owner of Stand Up!, shares his experience, “You are going to go through a part-time business boot camp. That isn’t something you should be afraid of. As an entrepreneur, you have to embrace the barriers ahead – whether it be a lack of knowledge, funds, or ability. Trust me, if you try your best, you will make it through those hard times and you will be rewarded by your success.”

The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce chapter will accept up to 20 students; the early application deadline is June 30. Classes will take place 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Southeastern University beginning in October.

The tuition for the program is $595, but there are some need-based scholarships available. The program offers the opportunity to participate in the YEA! Saunders Scholars Competition with the chance to win college scholarships.

The application for the Polk County program is available at

To learn more about YEA! visit, or for information on our local chapter, please visit at, or contact Rebecca Fortier at (863) 688-8551 ext. 229 or by email at  The YEA! Polk Sponsors and the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce are helping to build the next generation of business leaders in Polk County.

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.

 The 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

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how the free enterprise system improves society and the economy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.




Lakeland ABWA Offers Two Scholarships to PSC

The Lakeland Downtown Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) is offering two scholarships worth $1,000 each funded through the Stephen Bufton Memorial Education Fund to two deserving area students.

The Lakeland Downtown of ABWA provides Stephen Bufton Memorial Scholarships (SBMEF) to female students who will be attending accredited U.S. colleges, universities and community/vocational schools. Applicants must be citizens of the United States; residents of Polk County attending Polk State College, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and age of 18 years or older.

Eligible women interested in applying for the scholarship should contact:

Kimberly Andreadis/Education Chair (863) 701-7402 or (863) 701-5280

Applications must be completed by March 31, 2015 to A minimum of three (3) eligible applications are required in order for the scholarships to be awarded. The scholarship recipients will be notified in May, 2015.

SBMEF, ABWA’s national educational fund, is one of the most highly respected grant and scholarship funds in the country. For 60 years, ABWA has helped women achieve their business and professional success through educational scholarships.  Since its inception, more than 16,000 women nationwide have been awarded more than 17 million dollars in scholarships.

The Stephen Bufton Memorial Education Fund is a 501 (c) 3 charitable trust and public foundation. It has the same tax status as public schools, churches and community funds. The fund is listed in the U.S. Internal Revenue Service “Cumulative List of Organizations” described in Section 170(c) of the IRS code of 1954 – revised Oct. 31, 1974.


PSC Collegiate High Schools Hosting Information Sessions for Prospective Students

Polk State’s collegiate high schools will host information sessions for prospective students in February.

Students at Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School in Winter Haven and Polk State Lakeland Collegiate High School fulfill high school requirements while also earning college credits. In many cases, students graduate with both their high school diplomas and associate’s degrees.

In addition to the Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degree programs, Polk State’s collegiate high schools offer courses that lead to industry certification in computer programming and infrastructure, and health science. A Criminal Justice track is available at Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate, and Polk State Lakeland Collegiate offers a Digital Multimedia option.

Current high school sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply to the schools. Requirements include a minimum 3.0 grade-point average (weighted and cumulative) and a passing score on the PERT (Postsecondary Education Readiness Test); some programs at the schools require only a 2.5 unweighted and cumulative GPA.

The PERT is administered Monday through Saturday at Polk State Lakeland, Polk State Winter Haven and the Polk State JD Alexander Center in Lake Wales.

Prospective students are encouraged to attend an information session at any of the following locations and times:

Polk State Winter Haven, 999 Ave. H N.E.

Student Center (WST) 126

Feb. 3, 19

6:30 p.m.

For more information, call (863) 298-6800.


Polk State Lakeland, 3425 Winter Lake Road Lakeland Technology Building (LTB) 1100

Feb. 4, 11, 25

6:30 p.m.

For more information, call (863) 669-2322.

Applications will be available at the information sessions or at the school offices. The application deadline for lottery admission to both schools is Feb. 27.


SlingShot Polk Business Plan Competition Offers Cash, Mentoring to Student Entrepreneurs

SLingshot Logo

Young entrepreneurs in Polk County have a chance to win cash and mentoring from experts thanks to a new competition spearheaded by local education and business leaders.

Small businesses represent 98% of the employers in the state of Florida, demonstrating the need for businesses and educators to encourage creative entrepreneurship that drives the state’s economic growth.

High school and college students under age 25 are invited to enter business plans outlining a new idea or venture that provides measurable benefit to the Polk County region. Teams with up to four members are also eligible.

Entries must include a one-page summary business plan and are submitted online at Judges will select up to 12 semi-finalists from entries submitted by January 30.

Students interested in entering the competition can find helpful videos and tips on entrepreneurship at and


FSC Commencement to Honor Saddle Creek Founder David Lyons

Florida Southern College will hold its Winter Commencement exercises on Saturday, December 13, at 10:30 a.m. in the Branscomb Auditorium. Of the approximately 163 degrees to be awarded, 44 will be graduate degrees in business, education, and nursing.

Kevin M. Hyman, the executive vice president of operations of Bright House Networks, will be the commencement speaker, and Florida Southern College Trustee David P. Lyons, founder and chairman of Saddle Creek Logistics Services, will be presented with the honorary Doctor of Business degree.

Mr. Hyman oversees all operations including customer service, field operations, marketing, sales, finance, communications and government relations for Bright House, the nation’s sixth largest cable operator. He is also responsible for Bright House Networks’ award-winning 24-hour news channels and sports channel: News 13 in Orlando, Bay News 9 and Bright House Network Sports. He is a 29-year veteran of the television industry and joined Time Warner Cable, the predecessor to Bright House Networks, in 1989.  He is actively engaged in the community and serves on numerous boards that include the Board of Enterprise Florida and the Florida Cable Television Association. Mr. Hyman was awarded his undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Northern Colorado and his graduate degree in Economics from the University of Rhode Island

Mr. Lyons, a graduate of the University of Florida, was inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame in 2004, and was among the Florida finalists for Ernst & Young’s 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He founded the company, formerly known as Saddle Creek Corporation, in 1966. It now employs more than 2,500 associates and operates more than 16 million square feet of space in 37 locations nationwide, with core services of warehousing, transportation, packaging, and fulfillment. The company has recently received several industry awards, including recognition by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America, and is widely recognized as a leader in the use of alternative fuels for freight transportation.

At each commencement, a Senior Speaker, representing the senior class, addresses the convocation. This year the Senior Speaker will be Danielle Snodgrass from Fairfax, Va., who is receiving a B.A. in Advertising and Public Relations.

During the commencement ceremony, one of the graduating seniors will be presented the President’s Scholar medal. The medal honors a graduate whose academic standing is in the top 1 percent, who exemplifies the values of the College, and who has a demonstrated commitment to scholarship, student leadership and service.