FOUR CORNERS – Heading into 2012, the Four Corners Area Council is looking at an ambitious agenda, and one that includes moving into the age of social media.
The group of business owners who represent the Four Corners area – where the counties of Lake, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties connect on U.S. 192 and U.S. 27 – meet on a monthly basis, network, and organize social events and other activities designed to promote and advance the area. The council operates under the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, its parent company.
When the council held its final meeting of the year on Dec. 8 at ChampionsGate Golf Resort, the council members said they planned to stay busy in 2012 promoting Four Corners, and that includes doing so in the age of social media.
“A Facebook page, that’s something we need to look at,” said Mary Ellen Kerber, the council’s former chairman and the manager of the Formosa Gardens shopping plaza on U.S. 192. These pages, she said, have become a great tool for connecting with new customers.
Scott Smith, pastor of the Community of Faith United Methodist Church in Four Corners, agreed, said his church’s web site doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention or traffic anymore, now that Internet users have moved on to sites like Facebook.
“Our web site doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “It’s all tweets and Facebook.”
Beyond getting into social media sites, the council plans to work on other projects, including hosting a municipal summit next year that brings together the government leaders from all four counties in Four Corners, drafting a new version of the Four Corners street map that was one of the council’s first projects when they formed in 2005, and doing more to promote the businesses on U.S. 192 and U.S. 27.
The council also plans to continue hosting its annual fund-raising event and community celebration, the Taste of Four Corners. Originally held in May, this year the council pushed it back to September.
“We certainly have an ability to make an impact on the Four Corners area now,” said Gene Terrico, the council’s incoming chairman for 2012. “We took a look at the goals we’ve developed, and we have stepped out of the box.”
He urged all the members to stay active in the council’s work, which he said is having an impact. Four Corners, he noted, has done better than other parts of Central Florida, and has attracted new businesses, has a new school called Westside K-8 Elementary, and continues to grow.
“Everybody has a talent here to contribute, and if we take this in bite-size chunks, we can really move forward,” Terrico said. “Everyone is going to have a chance to contribute. Looking into 2012, you need to ask what do you want to do. It’s not my direction, it’s our direction in what we’d like to do.”
Marc Reicher, the council’s first chairman and the vice president of development at ChampionsGate, encouraged the council members to continue meeting at the ChampionsGate Golf Resort.
“Having it in a main spot is really great,” Reicher said. “Having a home is important.”
Terrico suggested that the council members consider an annual or quarterly dues payment, as a way to give them more funds to operate with. That could enable them to accomplish more goals in the future, he said.
“There’s been some discussion of a board fee,” Terrico said. “In trying to run this board, there really isn’t a budget now. We need to consider a very moderate $20 a year or $10 a quarter or something like that to build up this budget, so we don’t have to operate with a budget of zero and an operating fund of zero.”
The council’s outgoing chairman, Hector Lizasuain, encouraged his fellow members to continue working on ways to improve U.S. 192, one of the region’s prime tourism corridors. While the section in Four Corners is still growing, the area on U.S. 192 closer to Kissimmee is plagued with plenty of abandoned, dilapidated commercial properties that have become an eyesore and an embarrassment to the remaining businesses operating on the highway.
“What I want to do is create more consistency there,” said Lizasuain, who is also Osceola County’s West 192 coordinator.
He also thanked his fellow councilor members for letting him lead their agenda throughout 2011.
“I just wanted to thank you all for giving me an opportunity to lead this group in 2011,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, and I think we’ll continue to do so under Gene.”
The council’s first meeting of the new year will be on Thursday, Jan. 12 at ChampionsGate, when the members will hold a board retreat from 8:30-10:30 a.m.
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