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  • 01/02/2020 11:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Happy New Years EMERGERs! We hope and expect that 2020 treats you well!

    On another note, everyone meet Matt Wagner, Owner of Red Leg Dev, LLC

    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland? I joined EMERGE to meet and connect with other highly motivated professionals in our area -- the chance to talk about common interests and be a part of the professional conversation.
    2. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from? I grew up in Lakeland, spending almost the entirety of my childhood here before going to the University of South Florida in Tampa. When my wife and I were expecting our first son, we moved back to be closer to family.
    3. What do you like most about Lakeland? I really enjoy the atmosphere of Lakeland -- we're nestled between two larger cities, but we have our own distinct personality. The community is very friendly and welcoming, and also constantly growing and renewing!
    4. What do you do? I currently have a few jobs! I own and operate a custom software consultancy called Red Leg Dev, LLC, and I love working with small and medium businesses to help provide technical expertise and organizational leadership insight. I also am an actively serving United States Army Officer with the Florida National Guard, which has been an incredible experience, training with and leading the finest Citizen Soldiers in the country.
    5. What do you like most about your job/profession? I get an opportunity to help people, whether it's the hard-working small business owner in my "civilian" job or a community struck by natural disaster as a member of the Florida National Guard. Sometimes it feels like being tech-savvy is like a super-power, where you can see and provide issues to solutions that people didn't realize were hindering them. Being in the Guard has given me a unique insight into leadership and the sacred privilege it is to lead others.
    6. What are some of your hobbies? I am a voracious reader -- my Kindle comes with me almost anywhere. I try to spread my reading across the spectrum, from technical articles to leadership lessons to fiction. I credit my reading habit to being able to analyze issues from different perspectives, and I make gratuitous use of the highlight feature! My wife and I are also big runners, having done many half-marathons and the most recent Red Ribbon 15k.
    7. What’s your involvement in the community? Besides my National Guard service, I have also been active with the Gator Redlegs, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that aims to serve veterans and their families through scholarships and community outreach. I have also taken the time to speak at events like the Great American Teach-In and Code Lakeland to share some of the lessons that I've been blessed to have learned over the years.
    8. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going? I like talking technology -- but more than that, I love talking about how we can use technology and software specifically to improve business outcomes and quality of life. I like hearing about the issues business owners are facing and seeing where we can help them achieve their mission.
    9. Anything else you want to add? I'm really looking forward to meeting and contributing to the conversation. Check out my website at https://red-leg-dev.com for more information on what I do for a living! 

    *If you are a New Emerge Member and would like to be highlighted in our New Member Spotlight, please contact Jovan at jovan.hemenez@lakelandgov.net
  • 11/18/2019 2:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    EMERGERs, let us introduce you to Ashley Miller, Account Executive at MADE.

     

    1.         Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?

    • As an active member of the Lakeland community, and a native of this wonderful city, I am familiar with the good work that the Lakeland Chamber and EMERGE does in our community. After 12 years in a non-profit career at Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE), I recently made a career change. From my experience working with EMERGE members through various volunteer activities at VISTE, and my knowledge of EMERGE Serves, I felt it appropriate to join this wonderful group of young professionals to learn more beyond what I already know, and meet new professionals who are focused on community, networking, learning from others, cultivating friendships, and developing their careers.

     

    1. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from?
      • Born and raised in Lakeland, FL!

     

    3.         What do you like most about Lakeland?

    • Lakeland is home. As Lakeland grows, more opportunities for community involvement become available. We have great leadership in Lakeland, who invest in making this an even more diverse and beautiful place to live, work, and play.

     

    4.         What do you do?

    • I am an Account Executive at MADE, a boutique marketing and branding agency in Lakeland.

     

    5.         What do you like most about your job/profession?

    • I love interacting with our clients, and helping them share their businesses’ voice. Each one is different, and bringing their visions to life is extremely rewarding. We also have an amazing team, each with our individual talents that come together to become an extension of our clients’ teams. My team is like a second family and I love coming to work every day!

     

    6.         What are some of your hobbies?

    • Singing, playing the piano (not on a stage LOL), and spending time at the beach (particularly Anna Maria Island) and in nature.

     

    7.         What’s your involvement in the community?

    • I am a graduate of Leadership Lakeland Class XXXVI, and recently finding myself with more time to volunteer with some local non-profits.

     

    8.         If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going?

    • A tried and true conversation starter with me is asking about my 4-year old son, Jack. I’ll also talk music, bands, Florida wildlife, restaurants, marketing, volunteerism, you name it. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a “talker.”

     

    9.         Anything else you want to add?  

    • Thanks for the opportunity to share, join the conversation, and all the great things that EMERGE is doing in Lakeland!

     

    If you are a fairly new member, within the last three months, and would like to be highlighted in our EMERGE blog, please feel free to contact Jovan Hemenez at jovan.hemenez@lakelandgov.net.



  • 10/25/2019 3:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hello EMERGER’s,

    I’d like to introduce to you Bryant Cobb, General Manager at Massey Services.

    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?
      1. “Well, I have great respect for Emerge’s goal to empower and connect young professionals in Lakeland’s Community. I would welcome the opportunity to work with a great organization. At the same time, I have friends in the organization who have told me about its involvement in the community and how it creates a great environment for rewarding innovation. I think my leadership style would fit in really well here — especially in my marketing role.”
    1. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from?
      1. I am originally from Richmond, Virginia.
    1. What do you like most about Lakeland?
      1. Lakeland is place where I see the potential to grow into something great. I see Lakeland in five years, a small city with a lot of new young business owners. 
    1. What do you do?
      1. General Manager at Massey Services.
    1. What do you like most about your job/profession?
      1. Developing People and creating a winning culture.
    1. What are some of your hobbies?
      1. My hobbies are High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), watching Marvel & DC movies and traveling across the world.
    1. What’s your involvement in the community?
      1. My involvement in the community is mentoring and someone who wants to create new young business owners in the community.
    1. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going?
      1. How does Emerge bringing value to the community?
      2. How can Emerge get more members involved in activities?
      3. How can we attract more new members? 
    1. Anything else you want to add?  
      1. If you're not reaching back to help anyone then you're not building a legacy.” 


  • 10/16/2019 3:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    HELLO EMERGERs,

    My name is Jovan and I want to personally welcome you to EMERGE Lakeland’s Blog Relaunch! I’m actually a new member myself, but I’m the kind of person who dives right in whenever starting something new. Recently, I have joined the Marketing Committee and we are currently working on updating our EMERGE Blog. We will be highlighting new members in our “New Member Spotlight”. For the “New Member Spotlight,” we select a new member that has recently joined EMERGE, ask a couple of questions, post a photo of them, and “spotlight” them in our EMERGE newsletter and blog.

    With so many members in EMERGE, it’s hard to meet everyone. Spotlighting new members opens the opportunity to know a little more about them when attending an EMERGE event.

    With that being said, I’d like to introduce you to Dorcas Crumbley, Owner of Essential Catering Solutions, Inc.

    1. Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?  I joined EMERGE Lakeland for the vast amount of resources and information exchange that happens within this culture. I believe that actively learning as much as I can about this awesome community and surrounding area makes me that much more of a force to be reckoned with when it comes to contributing to it in massive ways economically and financially. I am a native of Lakeland and I have seen Lakeland grow so much over the span of my young adult life and I am ready to be a part of its advancement.
    2. Are you originally from this area? If not, where from? I was born and raised here.
    3. What do you like most about Lakeland? The excellent family-friendly dynamic it holds which adds value to the community.
    4. What do you do? I own and operate Essential Catering Solutions, a full-service catering company that focuses on personalized care in bereavement food service, although we have a vast range of business and wedding clients. We specialize in creating a very unique and holistic experience in food and event execution. 
    5. What do you like most about your job/profession? The people.
    6. What are some of your hobbies? Traveling.
    7. What’s your involvement in the community? I participate in many different ways, such as in-kind and financial donations, volunteering of my time, and fostering nonprofit partnerships among other things. 
    8. If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going? Ask me more about Bereavement catering and some of the unique ways we provide services to our clients. 
    9. Anything else you want to add? I love what I do. The people who work with me to create the best experience for our clients truly enjoy what they do, which is why, if you want to experience catering differently, then you definitely want us to cater or plan your next event.

    Dorcas, welcome to EMERGE Lakeland!

    Author: Jovan Hemenez

  • 03/11/2019 8:02 AM | Anonymous



    Who cares? EMERGE Lakeland does. When it comes to community, our group cares about lending a helping hand to our neighbors through meaningful volunteer opportunities focused on improving the people and places in our hometown. They say that together is better, and it is! That’s what EMERGE embraces. By connecting with each other, we’re able to take action and show how much we care about our fellow Lakelanders.


    EMERGE Serves: Opportunities to Serve

    Our Volunteer committee has a few upcoming  events that give you the chance to make a difference in our community. These events include painting a home for a family in need at Paint Your Heart Out and serving a local nonprofit, One More Child, that supports children in need at the Compassion House. At EMERGE, we believe it is important to be connected to  a group that cares about its community and leads with a serving heart.


    Serving in itself teaches us three things: Teamwork, how to be a neighbor, and how to have the right attitude


    Why Community Service Matters

    When we come together to work as a team, we learn and respect the diverse views and experience  of other volunteers. In a way, it’s an opportunity to be humble and listen to other individuals who have different insights on how to complete a project. It is also a lesson in empowerment--teaching us when to speak up with our own advice on how to get the job done. It’s teamwork!


    At our upcoming event, Paint Your Heart Out, we are volunteering to put a family’s need above our own. We live in a fast-paced world. Between making it on time for work, completing deadline-driven projects, working out and eating right, or taking time for family and friends,  sometimes we need a reminder of the importance of recognizing the community needs around us. EMERGE strives to build a culture that shows, as a team, we support our community and are serious about being compassionate neighbors.


    Building the Right Culture

    Building the right culture is all about having the right attitude and knowing your community. To keep it simple, we say that the right attitude is happily sacrificing your time and resources, and getting to KNOW someone. What better way to build relationships than to show you CARE about your community? Getting to know those you serve or serve alongside is one of the best ways to jump in and start building a community. It’s safe to say we are in this together and that because we have the right attitude, we have FUN!


    If you are not already part of a group that is making an impact in our community, then EMERGE is a great way to start and we would love to have you! We are proud of the impact we make and will continue to build a community that grows through serving because EMERGE CARES.

    Find out how to join EMERGE by going to the following link!

    Written by Danielle Harris


  • 02/27/2019 10:39 AM | Anonymous


    AUTHOR: Amanda Friel

    Love is in the air lately for home sweet Lakeland. Not too long ago, Realtor.com cited Lakeland as the best place to buy a home in 2019, and who could blame them? For our young professionals, the reasons are obvious.

    1. The location is kind of awesome.

    It’s no secret to anyone with access to a map that Lakeland is sandwiched between two substantially sized metropolitan areas: Tampa and Orlando. Young professionals love the versatility that comes with living in a smaller community while still being able to take advantage of large city entertainment and nightlife. Not to mention, the proximity to sought-after vacation destinations like theme parks and beaches.

    2. It’s kind to your bottom line.

    Swan City can save you some money. Many young professionals have noted that Lakeland-living allows them a lifestyle that, quite frankly, would be much more difficult to obtain elsewhere. Hard-earned dollars go far here, which is why many young professionals and small business owners are deciding to take root and call Lakeland home.

    3. It’s a great place for families.

    Free family-friendly events, picture-perfect parks (hello, family portraits!) and a strong sense of community make Lakeland a wonderful place to add onto your family tree. Many young professionals said they loved Lakeland because it was a place they wanted to settle in and raise their children.  

    4. Blossoming small businesses.

    From coffee shops and creative dining to unique retailers and beloved breweries—Lakeland is home to a growing population of homegrown businesses that love our city as much as we do. Young professionals say they enjoy patronizing the businesses that contribute to the economic growth and well being of our community. Which is a win-win for everyone.

    5. Professional development.

    Lakeland is home to higher-education institutions such as Southeastern University, Florida Southern College, Polk State College, and Florida Polytechnic University, making it an ideal place to continue your education. Whether you’re looking for a technical certificate or a Master’s degree, young professionals have local options when it comes to developing professionally. Not to mention organizations likeCatapult

    , which is a co-working space that fosters growth for local startups and EMERGE Lakeland (that’s us!), which provides opportunities for networking, professional growth and community involvement for young local professionals.

    Written By Amanda Friel 


  • 10/31/2018 10:41 AM | Anonymous member

    Are you originally from this area? If not, where from?
    No, I’m not originally from Lakeland. I’m originally from a small country town called Wauchula, FL. I moved to Lakeland in 2005 after hurricane Charley. I have been living in Lakeland for almost 10 years on and off.

    What do you do?
    Great question! I get asked that question all the time and I say, “I do a lot”. Which I do. I own three companies: The Credit Repair Supermarket, Speedy Tax Prep and Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur. I have 2 more companies that I have created that it is in the beginning stages.

    What do you like most about your job/profession?
    What I like most about my job is I like helping people, serving my community and being an educator. I want to be people to become educated on how to run a successful business and being a voice for the voiceless.

    What are some of your hobbies?
    Some of my hobbies include:
    Being a mother first and spending time with my daughter Malania
    Watching sports center
    Shopping (every woman loves a good shopping trip)

    What’s your involvement in the community?
    My community Involvement includes:
    United Way of Central Florida – Income Team
    United Referral Partner group (BNI)
    National Association of Woman Business Owners
    American Business Women Association
    EMERGE Lakeland
    Lakeland Business Leader
    Feeding the homeless with House of Queens
    Sponsored the Art of Entrepreneurship with Polk Vision
    Sponsored the $250 scholarship for the Martin Luther King Oratorical Youth Contest, Jazz Concert

    If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going?
    How they can become an educated entrepreneur.

    What do you like most about Lakeland?
    What I like most about Lakeland is that Lakeland is becoming the catapult for many new companies coming to the area which is helping to produce more jobs in Lakeland. I love that The City of Lakeland is birthing new opportunities for upcoming entrepreneur.

    Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?
    I join EMERGE Lakeland because I want to be around like-minded people that share the same passion as me to impact our community and being a true leader. I want to be able to learn from other business leader to help me become a better leader. I’m a firm believer in the power of connections and building long lasting relationship. My motto is its Collaboration over Competition.

    Anything else you want to add?  
    I would like to add that I just released a book called “The Small Business guide to getting business credit. I wrote this book with the small business in mind. I notice a lot of people was giving up on their passion or becoming frustrated because of lack of resources and funds. I want to educate people that there are alternative resources that will help fund their business. So Are you ready to be an Educated Entrepreneur?


  • 09/26/2018 11:31 AM | Anonymous member

    Are you originally from this area? If not, where from?
    No, I was born in Asunción, Paraguay and raised in Fairfax, VA.

    What do you do?
    I am the General Manager of Tropics Soccer Club, the professional soccer team here in Lakeland.

    What do you like most about your job/profession?
    The fast paced and constant evolution of the sports industry. Everyday is a new challenge and you never know what to expect. Soccer is booming in the US, and I enjoy being a part of growing the game right here in Lakeland.

    What are some of your hobbies?
    Playing Soccer, hanging with friends, watching sports

    What’s your involvement in the community?
    I try to attend or participate in as many community activities as possible. I work everyday to do give back to the community by bringing people together through the power of sport. I have run for Mr. Central Florida, Polk Emerging Leaders, and am a member of the Lakeland Rotary Club. I also coach both recreation and competitive teams in our Lakeland Tropics FC Youth Club.

    If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going?
    I always get asked about how the team is doing or what’s new. People like talking about sports, so anything in that category is a great way to start a conversation with me.

    What do you like most about Lakeland?
    The sense of community. I have lived in Tampa and Orlando, and you do not get the same sense of pride for a community as you do in Lakeland. People are from here and have been for many generations which seems to allow people to care more about what happens in Lakeland and the growth and future of the community.

    Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?
    I want to network more with the business community, especially with those closer to my age who are like me, the future of Lakeland. This seems like a great organization to allow the young minds to come together and work together to better our community.

    Anything else you want to add?
    It is my goal to do everything I can to bring our community together through the Tropics. This is only possible if the community embraces the team and sees the benefits of having a hometown pro sports team a community can be proud of. The more support we get the more we can give back to the community and help those in need. I look forward to meeting more of the young professionals who also share this vision with their various businesses and work together to assure the future of Lakeland is bright and thriving. GO TROPICS!


  • 08/31/2018 10:34 AM | Anonymous member

    Are you originally from this area? If not, where from?
    I am originally from Nassau, Bahamas. I grew up in Miami, Florida. Raised by immigrant parents from Haiti. I met my husband in Orlando one summer while visiting family we have 1 son.

    What do you do?
    I own Belle La Vie Salon & Spa in S. Florida Ave, Lakeland in the Alamo plaza next to Plato’s closet. We are currently approaching our 1-year anniversary.

    What do you like most about your job/profession? 
    What I love about my profession is that I can make everyone who sits in my chair look and feel great about themselves no matter what trouble/stress they’re having in their personal lives. 

    What are some of your hobbies?
    My hobbies are going to the gym, traveling, spending time with friends, and dancing. 

    What is your involvement in the community?
    My involvement in the community includes providing complimentary/discounted services to those that are less fortunate. I currently teamed up with Noah’s Ark, children, and families and once a month we provide their tenants with complimentary cuts. I wish to continue to help others, the best way I know how.

    If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going?
    If someone were to meet me at an EMERGE event, they should ask me about the beauty industry and how I’m working towards having Polk County citizens support local small businesses, instead of venturing out to bigger cities or towns.

    What do you like most about Lakeland?
    What I like about Lakeland is that it is continuously growing and there is a lot of history within Lakeland.

    Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?
    I decided to join EMERGE to link up with other business owners or everyday individuals that are passionate about their community and want to make a difference. My goal is to eventually have a very successful business in Lakeland and I have hopes of mentoring others that are wanting to do the same and to let them know although I am an immigrant with a checkered past, that will not stop me from achieving my life goals and that the sky is the limit. You only limit yourself when you doubt yourself. I look forward to meeting and working with each one of you fabulous individuals.


  • 07/30/2018 4:34 PM | Anonymous member

    Are you originally from this area? If not, where from?
    I am from Tampa, born and raised.

    What do you do?
    I have been a Little Greek Franchisee for almost six years as an operating partner.

    What do you like most about your job/profession?
    What I enjoy most about my job is getting to work in an environment that is fast-paced and allows me to interact with the many new faces of our customers.

    What are some of your hobbies?
    Some hobbies of mine include playing golf and basketball, painting, and going to concerts.

    What is your involvement in the community?
    My involvement in the community has largely been with local schools, doing things such as spirit nights and fundraising.

    If someone sees you at an EMERGE event, what are some topics they should ask you about to get the conversation going?
    At events, I am very approachable and can talk for days about the NBA, NFL, my dog, and all sorts of music!

    What do you like most about Lakeland?
    The parts I like most about Lakeland are the friendly people and the more laid-back attitude it has compared to where I grew up.

    Why did you join EMERGE Lakeland?
    I joined EMERGE to get more involved with the city and help expose my restaurant for its fantastic food, catering, and service we offer.


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