Meet BRIDGE Local

You might know BRIDGE Local by it’s original name: Lakeland Business Leaders. Lakeland Business Leaders was established in 2010 by Chrissanne Long and Craig Hosking before it was rebranded to BRIDGE Local in 2019. Originally, Lakeland Business Leaders was created to help businesses in the Lakeland area connect to customers who are looking for local solutions in real time. LBL was sustained by members looking for referrals, networking opportunities, and chances to collaborate, inspire and grow with each other.

After years of serving the beloved small business community in this way, Lakeland Business Leaders grew and a new way of serving was discovered–a way to bridge the gapsWhile our values remained the same, we quickly discovered that there were more valuable and efficient ways that we could serve our members. Our mission became centered around more tightly connecting all of the resources available to local businesses, local consumers, and our community as a whole.

BRIDGE Local believes in being a hub for these resources and continuing to celebrate and encourage genuine connection and collaboration. We are committed to making a meaningful difference in our community and truly listening to small business owners and entrepreneurs to improve the small business environment. Small businesses are the backbone of our community, and we’ll always tirelessly advocate for them.

A rising tide lifts all ships, and we’re raising the tide, one positive connection at a time.

A thing or two about BRIDGE

Established in 2010 by Chrissanne Long and Craig Hosking, BRIDGE Local has been helping businesses in the Lakeland area connect to customers who are looking for local solutions – in real-time. Unlike any other business network, BRIDGE helps people looking for referrals in an online forum, driven by the members themselves.

Engagement is Key

In recent years, the Internet has totally changed the way people connect. The Digital Age has made it possible for people to connect more efficiently. With the right conditions, infrequent networking opportunities can be cultivated online to develop into long-lasting, meaningful business relationships.  BRIDGE has created the right conditions – trust, transparency and consistency.

The Culture of BRIDGE Local

With so many online platforms available for consumers to share their thoughts – good and bad – about their experience with a business, it’s important that an online community, and its moderators maintain a positive attitude. Over the past 5 years, trust has been built by the members, and the guidelines enforced by its creators. Within LBL there is no bashing of businesses. Insiders agree to community guidelines, and when these are violated, a moderator steps in to encourage a positive outcome, privately . If a positive outcome is not possible, or the originator of a negative, derogatory post or comment does not wish to take the conversation to a mature, private discussion, the post is deleted. In some cases, members are removed from the group. While the desire is not to censor the members, it is to provide a positive, safe environment that encourages connection.


During a recent month, we captured in this image, there were 7,256 total members, of which 5,586 were actively engaged, contributing 913 posts, 6,200+ comments and 7,400+ reactions.

In 2016, the BRIDGE Local directory began track and measuring the number of leads that our members’ listings receive through the BRIDGE Local directory website.


Chrissanne and Craig, the creators of BRIDGE Local are committed to making a meaningful difference in Lakeland, and are always looking for ways to be better advocates for the small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups in Lakeland. If you would like to know more about BRIDGE Local, or have additional questions about whether BRIDGE Local is right for your local business, please contact us.

Meet the Founders

Chrissanne Long


Craig Hosking