The LEDC High Skill Investors group consists of 23 member companies. The LEDC created a separately funded initiative in 2003 to focus on creating High Skill, High Wage jobs to improve Lakeland’s Quality of Life. The High Skill Initiative is focused on recruiting and retaining companies that focus on enabling technologies which support High Skill, High Wage employees and manufacture complex research- oriented products.

The High-Skill Initiative works to accomplish these goals through Higher Education and Economic Development Partnerships, facilitating development of High-Skill Infrastructure (including a research university), Marketing, Incentives, City Visits, YLakeland Campaign, Summer Leadership Program, and Catapult, a place where entrepreneurs can go to grow.

Brian Philpot, AgAmerica

AgAmerica is a nationwide agriculture lender with over $1BB in assets under management. As part of its corporate structure, AgAmerica (the manager) operates the first agriculture mortgage REIT (mREIT) in the U.S. providing a niche ag debt investment vehicle. Brian Philpot is the CEO and Principal Owner of AgAmerica Lending. His background includes extensive experience in real estate investing, agriculture lending, real estate law, market analysis, and negotiation. Brian received his B.S. in Finance, cum laude with honors in investments from Florida State University. He earned a Juris Doctorate, cum laude, University of Florida College of Law. 

Wesley Beck, Aspyre Properties

Wesley Beck is President of Aspyre Properties, a private equity firm focused on investments in a variety of industries and industrial development. He also serves as CEO of Advanced Concept Innovations, a medical device company and was formerly a founding partner in Florida Flavors, a specialty manufacturer of flavors and fragrances. Wesley is past chair of the LEDC High Skill Committee.

Cory Petcoff, Baron Realty

Cory Petcoff, President of Baron Realty, is a seasoned commercial real estate professional with extensive background in investment analysis, property management and leasing. Petcoff is the recipient of the prestigious Top General Brokerage Producer Award in a seven county region offered by the Florida Gulf Coast Commercial Association of Realtors. He serves as the commercial real estate consultant and manager to multiple insurance companies who have diversified their investment portfolios through high quality investment grade commercial real estate. His background also includes forming and subsequently managing investor owned limited liability companies which seek to develop a high quality real estate portfolio. Petcoff is a licensed Property and Casualty Insurance Agent as well as a Licensed Real Estate Broker.

Chris Bailey, Charter Communications/Spectrum

Charter Communications is America’s fastest growing TV, internet and voice company. The organization is committed to integrating the highest quality service with superior entertainment and communications products. Charter is at the intersection of technology and entertainment, facilitating essential communications that connect more than 26 million residential and business customers in 41 states. The bedrock of Charter’s business strategy is their commitment to serving customers and exceeding their expectations. This philosophy guides its 94,000 employees.  

Jay Chastain, Chastain-Skillman, Inc.

Jay Chastain was recently named the President of Chastain-Skillman, Inc. Jay is the third generation to assume the role of President as he carries on the tradition of his grandfather Roy Chastain, who founded the firm 65 years ago. Like his father, Jim, Jay was a fixture around the office during his teen years and learned much about the firm’s operations and computer systems from an early age. Under Jay’s leadership the firm went through a complete rebranding and implementation of a state-of-the-art IT system. Jay received his Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Florida and is a proud Gator. In addition to his involvement with the firm, Jay is an active in the Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association, United Way, Leadership Winter Haven.

Mayor Bill Mutz, City of Lakeland

Bill Mutz, a native of Indianapolis and an Indiana University graduate, moved to Lakeland in 1996 where he became President of the Lakeland Automall. In 2012, Bill left the Lakeland Automall and took on the role of Managing Partner for both Greenstar Panels & Greenovative Homes. Then, in 2014, Bill became a Senior Consultant for Claridge Associates, where he remains today. Mayor Mutz and his wife, Pam, have been married for over 40 years and are parents of 12 children and have 19 grandchildren.    

Tony Delgado, City Manager, City of Lakeland

More than 250,000 people live in the Lakeland urban area. The City of Lakeland owns Lakeland Electric, Lakeland’s Airport, the Civic Center, and employs over 2,600. Tony began work with the City of Lakeland in January 1997 as Assistant Director for The Lakeland Center. He became Assistant City Manager in November 2000 and was appointed City Manager in January 2016. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Parks & Community/Commercial Recreation from Southern Illinois University. Tony has been active in the community including serving on the boards of: Central Florida Speech and Hearing, the United Way, VISTE, and Interact Alliance. He is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland XVIII and Leadership Polk Class II.

Dr. Anne Kerr, Florida Southern College

Dr. Anne Kerr became the seventeenth president of Florida Southern College in June 2004. Prior to her presidency, Dr. Kerr held several distinguished positions in higher education administration, including vice president at the University of Richmond, vice president at Rollins College, and dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins. Dr. Kerr holds a Ph.D. and M.S. from The Florida State University and a B.A. from Mercer University. She is active in numerous arts and civic organizations and serves on the boards of SunTrust Bank, Mid-Florida; EarthLinked Technologies, Inc.; the Polk Museum of Art; and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Randy Avent, Florida Polytechnic University

Dr. Randy K. Avent is the founding president of Florida Polytechnic University, the newest of the state’s 12 public universities and the only polytechnic university in the State University System of Florida. As Florida Polytechnic University’s inaugural president, Dr. Avent is responsible for the development and operation of the university and is committed to strategically developing Florida Poly as a research and jobs university, an agent for growth and a beacon for the economy.

David Hallock, GrayRobinson

David focuses his legal practice on corporate and business transactions including general corporate and business representation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, tax, health care law, banking and wealth protection planning.  Founded in 1970, GrayRobinson is a full-service law firm providing legal assistance across the state of Florida, with nearly 300 attorneys and 12 offices.

Will Harrell, Harrell's, LLC

William is the Director of Corporate Compliance & Government Affairs for Harrell’s, LLC. He is a lifelong resident of Lakeland. Will practiced with a central Florida law firm, prior to joining Harrell’s in 2015, and specialized in corporate transactions and governance, real estate, and estate planning. At Harrell’s, Will’s focus is on regulatory compliance, registrations and licensing, governmental affairs, and legal matters. Will earned dual bachelor degrees in Food & Resource Economics and Political Science from the University of Florida. He earned both his J.D. and M.B.A. from Samford University. He is a member of Christ Community Presbyterian Church and active in the community where he serves as Chairman of the Board of Parker Street Ministries, a member of the Salvation Army Board, and a member of the Florida Southern College Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise Board. Will and his wife, Julia, have one son. 

Melody Rider, Keiser University

Melody Rider has been in education administration for over 20 years and a college president for 15 of those years. She completed her undergraduate degree at California Lutheran University in Liberal Arts with a teaching credential. She continued her education accomplishing two masters’ degrees in Business Compliance and Ethics. Melody is in the final stages of completing her doctoral degree in Education Leadership from Capella University. She is the mother of a very active thirteen year old daughter and loves giving back to her community. 

Steve Scruggs, Lakeland Economic Development Council

The Lakeland Economic Development Council (LEDC) is a private, non-profit organization with 135 member companies. The LEDC’s primary role is to create jobs by attracting new industry and helping local industry expand in the Lakeland area. Steve has been with the LEDC since 1987.    

Joel Ivy, Lakeland Electric

Joel has a 30-year career path that includes climbing utility poles to managing multi-hundred million dollar operations with start-ups, investor owned and publicly owned utilities. Past experience includes his tenure as Chief Operating Officer at Visible Light Solar Technologies and Vice President of New Mexico Operations for Public Service Company of New Mexico, an investor owned utility with almost 500,000 customers. He most recently oversaw the Energy Department for Imperial Irrigation District, a vertically integrated public electric utility located in El Centro, California. Ivy graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.

Dr. Elaine Thompson, Lakeland Regional Health

Elaine joined Lakeland Regional Health in 2010 and immediately began the process to create a strategic vision centered on medical staff collaboration and performance, and patient safety improvements. Her initiatives include a multi-disciplinary performance improvement garnering international attention for the largest single site Emergency Department in Florida, and digitization of the Medical Center using a single electronic health records system. Elaine’s fierce passion for patient and community wellbeing leads her to work tirelessly with community, legislative and business leaders, and physicians to improve health services. She has been named each year since 2012 to Becker’s Hospital Review “Top 100 Non-Profit Hospital CEOs to Know”, “130 Women Healthcare Leaders to Know” and “130 Nonprofit Hospital and Health System CEOs to Know” annual national recognition lists.

Karen Turner, Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs approximately 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Lakeland facility is primarily engaged in supporting the corporation through the operation of core financial services functions. Karen Turner is a Multi-Functional Finance Senior Manager for Lockheed Martin. She has a diverse background in various staff and management positions and has held positions of progressive responsibilities in domestic and international accounting and finance.  She has a BS degree in Accounting from Alabama A &M University and a MBA from The Johns Hopkins University.

Steve Boyington, The Lunz Group

The Lunz Group is a full-service architectural and interior design firm headquartered in Lakeland. Since founding the firm in 1987, Edward Lunz has cultivated a values-driven culture that is grounded by a design-forward, client-first mentality. More than 30 years later, our firm continues to grow and innovate by creating a distinctive client-centered experience focused on delivering the best of our institutions’ talents, solutions and processes. Now with six office locations spanning coast-to-coast throughout Central Florida, the firm provides personalized service across the nation, serving global entertainment and aeronautics leaders, nationally recognized healthcare institutions, top-ranked educational research facilities, and more.

Steve Moseley, MIDFLORIDA

As one of the top credit unions in the state, MIDFLORIDA provides a wide range of banking products and services, as well as over 40 convenient branch locations throughout Central Florida from coast to coast. MIDFLORIDA is headquartered in Downtown Lakeland.  MIDFLORIDA offers retail banking, commercial banking services, mortgage loans, direct consumer financing at auto dealerships, retail investment services, realty services, and insurance services to over 200,000 existing members. Steve is Executive Vice President & President of MIDFLORIDA Financial Services. He oversees all branch retail operations, finance related functions, IT, mortgage operations, and realty services.  Steve obtained his undergraduate degree from Stetson University and his MBA from Florida Southern College.

George Lindsey, Polk County Government

Since his 2012 election to the commission, Lindsey has worked to attract new employers and remove barriers to the expansion of existing businesses in Polk County. He also is working to increase partnerships between the county and municipalities on matters such as planning, water supply and parks. He was elected chairman in 2014. Lindsey is also president and broker of Lindsey Realty & Development Corporation. He is an Honor Flight 15 guardian, University of Florida sports fan, and a Harley Davidson enthusiast.

Jim Freeman, Polk County Government

County Manager Jim Freeman began his career with Polk County in 1989 as the director of information technology and helped usher the county into a new digital era. He served as administrative services director and deputy county manager before he was appointed county manager in 2010. Freeman executes the Board of County Commissioners policy direction. With the exception of the county attorney’s office, Freeman appoints and manages all of the county’s nearly 2,000 employees. Freeman, an Atlanta native, graduated in 1994 from St. Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti, Polk State College

Polk State College is one of 28 public institutions in Florida that offer associate degrees as well as career and workforce training programs. In addition to being a comprehensive community college, Polk State is authorized to offer baccalaureate degrees to meet local and regional workforce needs. Dr. Angela M. Garcia Falconetti became Polk State College’s fifth president in 2017, bringing extensive experience in higher education, with particular expertise in student success, economic development, institutional research and effectiveness, and resource development.

Jeff Chamberlain, Publix Super Markets, Inc.

Publix, a Fortune 100 company, is headquartered in Lakeland with over 3 million sq. ft. of space including office, manufacturing and distribution and is Florida’s largest private employer. Jeff serves as Vice President of Real Estate where he is responsible for the entire real estate department, as well as the strategy required to successfully grow Publix Super Markets through new stores, new markets and acquisition. Jeff served as the 2011-2012 LEDC Chairman and is the 2015-2016 LEDC High Skill Chairman.  

Mark Cabrera, Saddle Creek Logistics

Saddle Creek Logistics is a third-party logistics company headquartered in Lakeland offering integrated logistics services including warehousing, transportation, packaging and fulfillment.  Currently, Saddle Creek has 28 warehouse locations across the country totaling more than 14 million square feet.  In his role as Senior VP/CFO, Mark directs the Finance and HR functions, and serves as the chief strategy officer.

Dr. Kent Ingle, Southeastern University

Dr. Kent Ingle has served as the president of Southeastern University since 2011. During his tenure, SEU has seen significant change including: implementation of a shared governance model, dozens of new academic and athletic programs and a dramatic increase in enrollment. Additionally, multiple building projects have been completed including the new 120,000 square foot Live/Learn building, which houses students, classroom space and a full food court. Dr. Ingle is passionate about preparing students for Christ-centered leadership and service. Before SEU, he served as dean of the College of Ministry at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.

Jason Witty, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits of America

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits has a 1,090,000 sq ft distribution center in Lakeland with over 400 employees. Jason Witty is the Vice President of Operations for the State of Florida. Jason started with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of New Mexico in 2002, as the Information Technology Manager. In 2005, he and his family moved to Florida, to take the Director of Information Technology role. Jason has worked with both corporate supply chain leadership as well as the Florida Operations team to evolve the SGWS distribution network into an efficient, centralized service model. Jason has his undergraduate degree from Florida Southern College and his sons are pursuing their undergraduate degrees from the University of South Florida.