By John Ceballos LAKELAND – To mark the 30th edition of Lakeland’s annual Economic Forecast Breakfast, Allen & Company of Florida decided a special project was in order. In addition to providing a sneak peek at the local, state, and national economy for 2017, Thursday’s event will be highlighted by a 10-minute video commissioned by Allen & Company and featuring input from 15 influential community leaders. “We quickly determined after the first couple of interviews that the original three- to five-minute video wouldn’t be long enough to capture the amount of solid content we had,” said Robin Chaddick, marketing and communications manager for Allen & Company of Florida in Lakeland, which organizes the annual economic forecast along with the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s been quite an inspiring project.” After coming up with the idea to do the video this past summer, Allen & Company enlisted the services of Indie Atlantic Films in Lakeland to conduct the interviews and create the video. “I’m very excited about this project because it brings together a lot of influencers and people I admire to tell the story of Lakeland and the exciting things happening in our great city,” said Andy McEntire, director and owner of Indie Atlantic Films. INFLUENCERS INTERVIEWED The 14 community leaders interviewed for the special video project set to debut at Thursday’s 30th annual Economic Forecast Breakfast were: Tony Delgado, Lakeland city manager. Steve Scruggs president of the Lakeland Economic Development Council. Meg Bellamy, executive director of Catapult Lakeland. Cory Skeates, president of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. Anne Kerr, president of Florida Southern College. Joe Ruthven, founder and owner of The Ruthvens. Randy Avent, president of Florida Polytechnic University. Elaine Thompson, president and CEO of Lakeland Regional Health. Clayton Hollis, former vice president of public affairs for Publix. Daryl Ward, principal at Harrison School for the Arts. Eileen Holden, president of Polk State College. Katie Worthington, president and CEO of the Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce. Tony Villamil, co-founder of the Washington Economics Group in Coral Gables. Adam Putnam, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture. The interview subjects – a roster that includes business, education, and economic development leaders – were asked the same five questions: How would you describe Lakeland today to a group of people? What were the foundational beginnings of Lakeland? What do you see as one of the key influences of growth in Lakeland? What would you tell the next generation of Lakeland influencers about what makes Lakeland a successful community? What does Lakeland look like tomorrow? “The video has a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, and I believe this is the first time we’ve been able to capture so many of these people for one video,” McEntire said. Meg Bellamy, executive director of Catapult Lakeland, was one of the influencers interviewed for the video. She filmed her segment toward the end of November after being approached about participating a month earlier. “I walked in and they were ready to roll,” Bellamy said. “The entire thing took about 10 to 15 minutes total.” Catapult Lakeland is a co-working space in Lakeland for budding entrepreneurs, and Bellamy is particularly excited about what the next decade has in store for the city. “I really think the next 10 years are going to be transformative for Lakeland,” she said. “It’s our jobs as leaders to talk about growth and to be pioneers. We have to continue to be risk-takers and innovators.” As a final cut rounds into shape in advance of the Economic Forecast Breakfast, Chaddick is proud of the project and how far the city has come in the last several decades. “We’ve been doing this Economic Forecast Breakfast for 30 years, and this year felt very, very special to us,” Chaddick said. “This is about where we were, where we are, and where we’re going.” -John Ceballos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7515.