Lakeland Business Guide 2019 Chamber Guide_2019 - Page 44

their businesses to Lakeland because they know the resources are here to make them succeed. The Chamber plans to begin a capital campaign later this year to raise funds to build the facility for the Business Resource Center, and they are currently looking for land and the location, which is the next step in the process. The other big issue the Chamber will tackle this year is Association Health Plans. A new law allows organizations such as Chambers to now pool their membership numbers to provide discounted health insurance rates to employees. Chamber staff members have been having conversations with the state and national Chamber Associations, as well as insurance providers, to work out the details, and Skeates is hopeful that more information will be available soon. “It’s pretty exciting,” he says. “We’re hearing in Texas [which already allows Association Health Plans] that they’re anticipating a 15-percent reduction in average rates for employees.” So, 2019 promises to be an exciting year for the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve got a lot of good things coming,” says Skeates. “What we’ve all been saying is, ‘It’s a great time to be in Lakeland; so much is happening!’” For Skeates, it comes down to one thing. “I just love what I do. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing businesses succeed, helping them grow.” NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), micro lenders, a college or university partner, and, of course, the Chamber, among others. The collaboration will be the key to success, bringing many of the business support organizations in the community together in one building: sharing space, sharing resources, and sharing knowledge. The Chamber continues to work closely with the National Entrepreneur Center, which adds legitimacy to the Business Resource Center here since they have been in operation in Orlando for 15 years. As a result of their work, Orlando is often listed as one of the best places in the country to start a new business. The goal is to make Lakeland a business destination, with people feeling comfortable moving 44