Category Archives: Chamber Initiatives

Key Strategic Initiatives


USF Poly to Host Social Media Seminars

(Lakeland, Fla., April 27, 2009) – “They wanted a sequel, so we’re giving it to them,” says Tamara Sakagawa. “We plan to provide some free, valuable information so people can use social media to grow, sustain or manage their businesses.”

Sakagawa and Chuck Welch will present a social media seminar April 29, 11:00 a.m. – noon and 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the University of South Florida Polytechnic. Sakagawa is the City of Lakeland’s community redevelopment agency manager, and Welch publishes two popular news sites, Lakeland Local and Metro I-4.

The workshop is part two of Welch’s social media presentation that the Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency hosted in March.

“Last month was why.’ This month is ‘how,’” says Welch. “It’s a quick, hands-on class for those committed to social media.”

According to Sakagawa, USF Poly’s Open Use Computer Lab provides an ideal location for the workshop.

“This event is really more useful to people if they can work along with the instructor.  I had originally thought of making this a bring-your-own-laptop event, but that just seemed cumbersome. “

In addition to making its computer lab available for the workshop, USFP has plunged into the world of social media. The school has a presence on Facebook and recently launched a successful marketing campaign to increase its followers on Twitter.

Sakagawa first experimented with social media last year when she opened a Facebook account. She started to wonder how it and other forms of social media could help small businesses with limited marketing budgets.  She originally planned the first workshop for Dixieland Community Redevelopment Area businesses.  Because the topics are so universal, she says, she opened the event to anyone in the community, with a specific focus on small business owners.

Sakagawa uses each event as an opportunity to share some information about the city, the Dixieland CRA and the Redevelopment Agency.  She also sees it as a networking opportunity for businesses and citizens, who, she hopes, will decide to locate or shop in, or learn more about, Dixieland.

“I see these seminars as civic engagement and customer service,” she says.” “We need to communicate with our citizens about what we do, how we do it, and why things happen.  These events give us a chance to not only share some insight into what’s going on but also get feedback from the public. We want to know what people and businesses need, how we can help, what services have value.  Each event gives us an opportunity to learn more about what we can do, or do differently, to stimulate investment and keep the local economy churning.”

According to Sakagawa, the Dixieland CRA’s Facebook page and a new downtown website — — have helped to engage a different segment of the public. Previous forms of outreach included direct mail, addressed primarily to property owners, news releases and legal ads.

“We would always see the same people at public meetings, and we would wonder how to connect with younger people or people who could not, or would not, take time out of their days to come to a meeting or workshop. The website and blog let us share concepts with an online audience and get additional and frank feedback as we update the plan for downtown Lakeland.  Facebook has allowed us to share information with a different audience, one we hope will stop and think about the businesses in this area.”

For more information on the workshop contact Tamara Sakagawa at 863-834-6011 or Or if you would like to host a social media workshop for your organization contact Chuck Welch at (863) 614-0434 or


Governor appoints USF Poly CEO to regional planning post

Governor appoints USF Poly CEO to regional planning post

(Lakeland, Fla., April 15, 2009) –  Governor Charlie Crist has appointed Dr. Marshall Goodman, vice president and chief executive officer of the University of South Florida Polytechnic, to the Central Florida Regional Planning Council. His term begins April 13, 2009, and ends Oct. 1, 2010.

The Central Florida Regional Planning Council is a planning and public policy agency that works with public and private leadership in central Florida to achieve a healthy and sustainable future. It serves DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and Polk Counties.

“I’m honored to serve the governor and represent the university and the community,” said Goodman. “The decisions and actions of the council have a significant and positive impact on the future of this region.”

Since joining USF Polytechnic in 2006, Goodman has made regional economic development a priority. In his career he has traveled extensively and has consulted on state politics, government ethics, public administration, and international trade. From 1999-2001 he served Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson as special assistant for globalization. His international focus areas have included India, the Pacific Rim, Central and South America, and the European Union.

Goodman’s civic involvement includes seats on the boards of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Auburndale Chamber of Commerce, the Lakeland Economic Development Council, the Central Florida Development Council, the Polk Museum of Art, the Learning Resource Center of Polk County, Polk Vision, the United Way of Central Florida, the Bartow Regional Medical Center and others. He is a participant in the Tampa Bay Partnership’s CEO Direct leadership program and a member of the inaugural class of Leadership Polk and active with the Tampa Bay Partnership and


USF Polytechnic offers Summer Tutoring in Reading and Writing

USF Polytechnic offers summer tutoring in reading and writing for first through eighth graders.

(Lakeland, Fla., April 14, 2009) — The University of South Florida Polytechnic is offering its Summer Tutoring in Reading and Writing (STRW) program for first through eighth grade students who are experiencing reading difficulties. Tutoring is provided by graduate candidates who are completing their master of arts in reading from USFP and who are current elementary and middle school teachers in the community. STRW is supervised by Drs. Sherry Kragler and Ruth Sylvester from the division of Childhood Education and Literacy Studies.

Students who are selected to participate are assessed using multiple informal reading and writing assessments. Based on the results of these assessments, an instruction plan is developed and implemented for each child by their assigned tutor. Instruction may be one-on-one or in small groups.

Tutoring sessions will be held from 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM Monday and Wednesday on June 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, and 24. The cost for the summer tutoring is $40.00.

Transportation to USF Polytechnic is the responsibility of the child’s parent or guardian. At the end of the project the child’s parent or guardian will receive a progress report.

Parents and guardians can go to and select “Register Online” to register and pay the $40.00 registration fee. Registration deadline is May 8.

For more information contact Tracey Cayson  863.667.7072,


New Blog for business leads

In a recent meeting of the Communications KSI committee, the idea was floated that we needed to help our members get more business leads. While we are looking at some “business-to-business” type software options, a quick and free way to do this would be to establish a leads blog. This would be reserved solely for business opportunities. Let’s say that I need a software program written, or that I need office supplies. The notion that I could post it on a leads blog and see what comes back is interesting. Please provide feedback as to whether you believe this has merit.


Catalyst Cruisers Reunite- With Friends!

On Tuesday, the Catalyst Campaign Cruise recipients found a great way to relive some of the fun we had on the boat… karaoke at the Holiday Inn South! This time, we were joined by some of our “land-lubber” Chamber friends, along with some of Lakeland’s most famous residents. I just couldn’t resist sharing pictures!

P-Weg (also known as Catalyst Campaign Vice Chair Phil Wegman of Furr & Wegman Architects, PA) shares his rapping abilities with the crowd of dancers.

Joined by Chris Wolfe (WONN/WPCV/WLKF/WWRZ Radio), P-Weg “busts a move”.

Huge THANKS to Bob Cattarius, husband of Catalyst Campaign Chair Nancy Cattarius, for scouting out a wonderful place to get together, and to Holiday Inn South for being such gracious hosts. For more pictures of Chamber events and Chamber folks, you can always visit our Flickr page!