Lakeland Business Guide 2019 Chamber Guide_2019 - Page 58

nation had started organizations focused on equipping young professionals in an effort to retain young talent in their cities. “I grew up in Lakeland and I wanted to get out of Lakeland. I would hear it all the time that Lakeland was not as attractive as Tampa and Orlando when it comes to salaries and excitement,” admits Hamid. Which is not an uncommon opinion among young people in our city. The draw toward other cities can be strong especially when not truly presented with the opportunities that exist in Lakeland. “So you have people who want to get out. But, for me, once I came back from college, I realized Lakeland has everything I would ever need,” says Hamid. “You need to have an organization that can show you more of Lakeland.” The Lakeland Chamber was aware of the young professionals who were previously and currently rooted in Lakeland, and were determined to remind these talented individuals the abundance of opportunity Lakeland has to offer. At the same time, the United Way of Central Florida was also becoming aware of how the United Way organizations across the country were also placing emphasis on recruiting young professionals and cultivating them for philanthropic endeavors. The United Way desired to develop a culture of volunteerism in young professionals which would encourage them to contribute their time, talents, and resources to their local communities. In December 2003, the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce became aware of their shared goal of reaching young professionals, and the two organizations saw a possible collaboration. Both groups met and detailed out their goals and visions for the young professional organization and decided that the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce would administer the new group. EMERGE is aimed at supporting and networking young professionals ranging from ages 21 to 42 in Lakeland. “We get 58