President Amanda Walls called the meeting to order and led the invocation, pledge, and Four-Way Test.
 
Guests & Visiting Rotarians were introduced by Kim Brunson. Cindy Conley was a guest of Stephanie Colon, and Fred Lintz was a guest of Lucas Martin.
 
Melody Rider collected happy Dollars. This might have been the happiest meeting of all time – so many happy announcements we couldn’t keep up!
 
Mike Loudon led us in the singing of “Viva la Rotary.”
 
Jason Wyatt announced that the Annual Rotary Golf tournament had a great turnout. The weather was really nice as well. Jason thanked the committee that worked so hard to put the event together.
 
Steph Colon provided updates on the club’s social events. She thanked Rick Maxey for coordinating the fishing trip. They had 24 people show up to the event. Steph’s husband, Tony, won with the most fish caught. Michael Huff and JJ Weeks split the winnings for the largest fish. The Pints to End Polio event was a lot of fun as well and they raised a good amount of money to donate to the fight to end Polio. The District Gala is on November 15th at the Magnolia Building and tickets are $60 which includes dinner.  Our club’s social event for December will be the Christmas Parade Viewing Party. Be on the lookout for more details.
 
President Amanda announced that the next School cleanup day will be Saturday, October 29th from 8 AM to 11 AM at Phillip O’Brien. Additionally, there is still room for additional people on the Honduras Trip. The total cost will be just under $1,400. We have 16 spots remaining so please sign up!  
 
Our guest speaker was Amy Wiggins who is the CEO of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and has been in that role since March 2022. She broke her presentation up into a few different segments as outlined below:
 
Business Resources:
Over the years, The Chamber of Commerce has helped to spearhead streetlights in downtown, getting an airport, landing and keeping the Tigers Spring Training, etc. They’ve had a massive impact on the community.
 
When Amy started in March, there were three employees, and they need 10-15. She now has a team of 10. She hired a Director of Business Resources, and her sole purpose is to aggregate and collect all of the resources for businesses such as training and connection opportunities. For example, Handshake is a program that helps employers find great employees currently in college or fresh out of college.
 
Another project that the Chamber is very involved in is the Black Business Investment Corporation. The BBIC has access to capital that allows for loans that are smaller than banks can provide. The BBIC allows people to complete training and receive microloans. This program provides services to those first-time business owners right here in Lakeland, and the Chamber is helping to connect those in need to the BBIC.
 
Convention of Visitors Bureau
The Chamber is working to rebrand this to “Explore Lakeland.” Amy mentioned that we are fighting for our fair share of tourism. From the Tigers, to Magic’s, To Tropics, to Arts and Culture organizations, we have plenty of options. Amy mentioned that visitors usually spend an extra $35 each in our community when they come for specific events. Think about all those extra dollars being spent when you go to Tampa or other places for events.
There are so many things to do here in Lakeland. With new people moving in every day, the Chamber hopes they can provide resources and information on local activities to keep them engaged in our community.
 
Education Committee
Amy mentioned that Lakeland Vision and the Chamber of Commerce have a great partnership with different strengths. Our Club’s member, Melody Rider, is actually on the committee and is leading one of the task forces. Education in our community is extremely important to Amy. She mentioned that what is happening now in children's education will result in how they contribute to the community in the future.
 
Thank you to Amy for the work you do to make our community better and for sharing this important update with our Club.
 
President Amanda closed with her word of the week: plaudits – which means enthusiastic approval or applause
 
Next Week’s program is Nick Hall (Past district governor) who will be here to talk about a recent bike trip along the Pacific Coast in the name of Rotary to raise money for the Foundation