Chamber of Commerce Announces Annual Symposium

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Walton Area Chamber of Commerce Announces Annual Symposium, “The Next BIG Thing”, Presented by Fort Walton Beach Medical Center

 The Walton Area Chamber of Commerce will host “The Next BIG Thing” on Tuesday, August 27, 2019, at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in the Baytowne Conference Center. Presented by Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, the annual symposium has three distinctive growth tracks, including Leadership Development, Entrepreneurship, and Women in Business. Together, they will bring in several dynamic speakers who will be addressing topics beneficial to empowering individuals professionally and personally, grow emerging and existing entrepreneurs, and help create rising leaders.

This year, event attendees will have the opportunity to hear from two keynote speakers, Linda Larsen and Michael LeSure. There will also be various TED Talk-style breakout sessions per the attendee’s selected growth track. New this year, Dale Carnegie of the Emerald Coast Instructor, David Balmer, will be facilitating a special customer service workshop sponsored by Visit South Walton, titled “Making First Impressions: Customer Service for the Frontline,” that will be taking place at Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House located in the Village of Baytowne Wharf.

The morning will kick off with keynote speaker Linda Larsen, BSW, MFA, CPAE. She is one of only 232 people worldwide to be inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame®, joining such notables as General Colin Powell, President Ronald Reagan and Brian Tracy. Larsen has been a featured presenter for over 1,000 conferences and meetings worldwide for groups such as Jaguar Cars, the Kuwait Women’s Leadership Summit and McDonald’s. Linda combines her 20-year experience as a professional actress with her education and training in communications and behavioral sciences to deliver entertaining, memorable, power-packed presentations that help people bring the very best versions of themselves to life and work.

Following the morning session, attendees will breakout into smaller groups for various discussions catered to their chosen track:

Leadership Development Track speakers include:

  • Ryan Giles: “WHAT IS EOS®? The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) is rooted in the knowledge that the amount of success a company has depends on the degree to which these six key components are strengthened.”
  • Melva Tate: “Leading Like a Rockstar (Top Strategies for Leadership Development & Success)”
  • Kerry Flowers: “The Leadership Formula”

Entrepreneurship Track sessions include:

  • Matthew Zimmerman: “Entrepreneur Story: Breaking the Barriers, Creating the Culture We Want and Making Millions.”
  • Entrepreneur Panel featuring Ashley Horsley, Steven Franco, and Scott Brown
  • Jimmy Burgess: “Entrepreneur Story”

Women in Business Track speakers include:

  • Ashley Smith: “When Shear Strength isn’t Enough”
  • Melva Tate: “Hey Lady – What Color Is Your Cape?”
  • Amy Meyer: “Journaling Workshop – How to stop paralysis by analysis in the workplace, using tools from Day by Day creative guide, goal setting and action steps.”
  • Dr. Lori Whatley: “Effects of Digital Device Usage on Women and How to Overcome Them.”

The afternoon keynote session will feature South Walton local and Bravo reality television star, Michael LeSure. He and his ex-girlfriend turned business partner, Nina Klemm, are featured on Bravo’s new docu-series “Flipping Exes,” which follows the pair around Carmel, Indiana as they renovate and sell high-end properties. Aside from the show, LeSure is originally from Indiana, but was a frequent visitor to the Emerald Coast and permanently moved to the area in February 2019. After years of working in finance, LeSure is now forming a construction company that specializes in renovating properties in Indianapolis, along 30A and in Panama City. LeSure will discuss his path as an entrepreneur, his road to becoming an author, his life as a professional body builder, and now his focus on helping those in need effected by Hurricane Michael.

Registration and check-in begin at 8:00 a.m. with a continental breakfast in the vendor ballroom. “The Next BIG Thing” will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. with welcoming remarks from Walton Area Chamber of Commerce CEO, Megan Harrison. Lunch, provided by Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Attendees are encouraged to stay until the end of the event for the $1,000 VIP door prize drawing from Silver Sands Premium Outlets. The symposium will conclude with a cocktail hour reception and exhibitor showcase sponsored by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association for guests to network with one another and shop among local businesses.

Registration prices are $125 for Walton Chamber members and $150 for non-members. Interested individuals can register for the event by visiting Military and Group discounts are available. Please contact Gabrielle Woods at (850) 892-3191 or for more information. 

A variety of sponsorship opportunities are available. Area businesses interested should contact Gabrielle Woods at 850-892-3191 or

 About the Walton Area Chamber

The Walton Area Chamber of Commerce was established in 1925 and provides leadership for a healthy business community. As the area’s leading voice of business, the more than 800-member organization represents the interests of business with government, promotes the local community and provides business education and networking opportunities toward building a strong Walton County economy. For more information, visit or call 850-267-0683.

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