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2017 SlingShot Polk: STEM-related Business Plan Competition

Lakeland, FL – Entrepreneurs in Polk County have a chance to win cash and mentoring from experts, thanks to a competition spearheaded by local educational and business leaders. 

In Florida, small businesses represent almost 99% of the employers in the state. That is why in 2015, local educational and business leaders collaborated to create a new business plan competition called SlingShot Polk to create opportunities for Polk County’s young entrepreneurs to develop and fund their business ventures. 

New and improved, SlingShot Polk is STEM-focused in 2017. STEM—a priority of the U.S. Department of Education—is imperative for the growth and economic stability of our local cities, county, state, and nation. Students enrolled in a Polk County middle school or high school (or homeschool equivalent) or a bachelor’s or master’s degree program at a college/university located in Polk County and entrepreneurs under the age of 30 as of entry date are invited to submit business plans outlining a new idea or venture that provides measurable benefit to the Polk County region. The entries must be related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

“Slingshot Polk is an excellent opportunity to support young entrepreneurs in Polk County. I am excited to see the fresh ideas and concepts being presented by this talented group of emerging business leaders,” says Sean Malott, President/CEO, Central Florida Development Council, Inc. 

Entries must include a 1-page summary business plan to be submitted online at  Judges will select up to 12 semi-finalists from entries submitted by January 31, 2017. Semifinalists will receive mentoring and training to develop their detailed business plans and enhance their communication skills. The final event will be held from 6:00-9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, at Florida Polytechnic University, 4700 Research Way, Lakeland, FL 33805. First, second, and third place winners in two categories will receive cash prizes. Those interested in entering the competition can find helpful information at 

SlingShot Polk is an initiative of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. SlingShot Polk is sponsored by the Central Florida Development Council, Inc., Florida Polytechnic University, InTouch GPS, Jannetides College of Business & Entrepreneurial Leadership at Southeastern University, Center for Free Enterprise, Florida Southern College, Florida By Products, Inc., Gadd Case & Associates, LLC, Hamic Previte Jones & Sturwold, P.A., CPA, Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College, Joe and Kim Childs, Keiser University, Lakeland, and Webber International University. 

SlingShot Polk is also supported by various community partners including: All Saints Academy, Bartow Economic Development Council, Greater Bartow Chamber of Commerce, Greater Mulberry Chamber of Commerce, Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce, Haines City Area Chamber of Commerce, Haines City Economic Development Council, Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Council, Lake Wales Charter Schools, Lakeland Christian School, Lakeland Vision, Inc., Polk County Public Schools, Polk State College, The Schools of McKeel Academy, SEMCO Construction, Inc., Small Business Development Center, Warner University, and the Winter Haven Economic Development Council, Inc. 


Since 1921, the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce has served as an advocate for business. The Chamber is a 501 (c) (6) not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating a climate where business can prosper. The Lakeland Chamber is the largest Chamber of Commerce in Polk County with more than 1,400 investor businesses. The Lakeland Chamber continues to be an integral component of the Lakeland community by offering a wide variety of programs and initiatives that positively impact the economic vitality and quality of life in our region. Our investors capitalize on the contacts, resources, and support provided by the Chamber.