CareerSource Polk names Best Places to Work, celebrates milestone

By John Ceballos
The Ledger
Published: Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 12:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 12:06 p.m.
LAKELAND — The mood was more festive than usual during CareerSource Polk’s annual meeting Thursday morning.

SCOTT WHEELER/THE LEDGER

Facts
… And the winners are …
SMALL BUSINESSES (one to 50 employees)

BrightVolt; Central Florida Regional Planning Council; Certain Teed Machine Works; Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.; Clark Environmental, Inc.; Clark/Nikdel/Powell; Florida United Methodist Foundation; Heacock Insurance Group; Lunz Prebor Fowler Architects; OMS Group, Inc.; Spherion Staffing.

MEDIUM BUSINESSES (51 to 250 employees)

A-C-T Environmental & Infrastructure, Inc.; Allen & Company of Florida, Inc.; Citizens Bank & Trust; CutraleCitrus Juices USA, Inc.; Ferguson Enterprises; Florida Presbyterian Homes, Inc.; Mizkan America, Inc.; The Estates at Carpenters.

LARGE BUSINESSES (251 employees and up)

Florida’s Natural Growers; Sykes Enterprises Inc.; Walmart Distribution Center 6071.

WORKFORCE INCENTIVE AWARD winners

Brandi Alexander, Bridget Ashley, Scott Bennett, Steve Cason, Deborah Davidson, Karen Dias, Marisa Emanuel, Chandra Feacher, Todd Glidewell, Wilie Graham, Lori Halula-Eyer, Alicia Kennedy, Robindra Ramnauth, Lucy Irene Smith, Evangeline Scharf, Geoffrey Stoff, Daniel Walker, Tinisha Walker, Pamela Westbrook, Haley Williams.
On top of once again recognizing the county’s Best Places to Work, the event doubled as a celebration of CareerSource Polk’s 20th anniversary.

“This community has graciously embraced the workforce development system over the last 20 years,” said Stacy Campbell-Domineck, president and CEO of CareerSource Polk, during her keynote address. “From low joblessness to seemingly insurmountable spikes in unemployment, we have seen the pendulum swing back and forth, and yet here we stand.”

CareerSource Polk — formerly Polk Works — was established in 1996 and is a nonprofit that oversees federal funds dedicated to establishing a skilled workforce. According to its 2015-16 annual report, 69,670 customers accessed CareerSource Polk’s career service centers.

In 2003, the organization began handing out its Best Places to Work Awards, which recognize businesses that offer a healthy work-life balance and a variety of incentives, perks and training opportunities for its employees.

In addition to the Best Places to Work Awards, Career Source Polk also doled out several individual honors.

n Gary Clark of the Polk County Veterans Council and CPS Investment Advisors received the Hammer Award, which recognizes CareerSource Polk board members for contributing their personal time to the organization’s initiatives.

n John Small of Polk County Public Schools won the Workforce Champion Award for his contribution to workforce and economic development initiatives.

n Katrina Lunsford, 2015-16 board chairwoman for CareerSource Polk, picked up the Larry Miller Award for her “overwhelming commitment to workforce development.”

“We’ve done so much for Polk County, my somewhat big brain cannot contain it,” Lunsford said. She proceeded to rattle off some of CareerSource Polk’s achievements, including helping put the county’s residents back to work, upgrading the skills of Polk’s workforce, and creating summer jobs for the county’s youth.

Lunsford is also the namesake of the new Katrina Lunsford Workforce Incentive Award, which offers financial encouragement to Polk residents who have demonstrated a commitment to pursuing a career through CareerSource Polk’s workforce system.

A total of $20,000 was distributed to 20 recipients as part of the Workforce Incentive Award.

One of those recipients was Bridget Ashley of Lakeland. Ashley is working at the Zephyrhills Correctional Institute through MHM Services, which provides health and medical services and personnel for government agencies.

“They paid for my schooling at Ridge Career Center,” said Ashley, who completed the school’s licensed practical nursing (LPN) program. “After I got the job and couldn’t get scrubs, I picked up a voucher from them and they paid for them.

“Sometimes I felt very overwhelmed, but they are always very encouraging.”

— John Ceballos can be reached at john.ceballos@theledger.com or 863-802-7515.