Cory Skeates has resigned as president and CEO of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, a post he has held since January 2015, the organization announced today. The resignation takes effect immediately.

“Following multiple conversations between Skeates and leaders from the Executive Committee related to fully realizing the Lakeland Chamber’s mission and vision, Skeates chose to tender his resignation to allow a change in leadership in the best interest of the chamber,” according a news release issued by the chamber and Will Link, chair of its Board of Directors.

Contacted by LkldNow, Skeates said he has no further comment at this time beyond his quote in the news release. The news release quoted him as saying:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the businesses of Lakeland and sharing my vision for what chambers of the future must do to remain relevant while continuing to focus on their mission. It was an honor to represent the Lakeland Chamber as Chair of the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals (FACP), as a member of the Board of Regents for the U.S Chamber’s Southeast Institute for Organization Management, and through service on many other local boards and committees.

After six years of leading the Lakeland Chamber, I am proud and satisfied with the progress we have made as an organization, especially during a pandemic which witnessed the demise of too many businesses and chambers. I wish the Chamber nothing but success in its path forward.”

Prior to joining the Lakeland Chamber, Skeates was president & CEO of the Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce in suburban Orlando.

Skeates, who had moved to Lakeland from the Orlando area, told an associate today that he plans to stay in Lakeland until at least the end of the school year as he ponders next steps.

One of Skeates’ major priorities at the Chamber was building a Business Resource Center to house the chamber and several other organizations that serve small businesses. The City Commission approved sale of land just north of the RP Funding Center to house the new Chamber complex almost exactly a year ago.

The Business Resource Center plan calls for the Chamber to vacate the historic but outdated Park Trammell Building at 35 Lake Morton Drive that it has occupied since the mid-1960s.

The chamber board plans to name an interim president/CEO and assemble a search committee to recruit the next chief executive, Link said.

“The Lakeland Chamber’s Board of Directors is appreciative of the vision Cory brought to our city and are thankful for his navigation of the many issues facing businesses during the ongoing pandemic. We wish him the best in the next phase of his career,” Link said.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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