POINCIANA – When the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance was formed last summer, it had a simple goal: to ensure that local residents applied for and got some of the construction jobs expected to come here over the next few years.
Since then, the alliance’s mission has expanded, and today PEDA took the first step toward officially becoming a non-profit organization that promotes economic development and business growth in Poinciana, a community of 84,000 residents that cuts across Polk and Osceola counties.
“We need to realize there are little steps and big steps, but we’ve made a lot of progress in the past few months,” said Nick Murdock, the chairman of PEDA, as the alliance members held their monthly meeting at the Poinciana Community Center. “The incorporation papers are in for PEDA as a non-profit. We will officially be incorporated and have a tax I.D. number.”
As PEDA becomes a non-profit agency, they’re also starting to develop another chief goal: to invite small, medium and large businesses in the community to join the PEDA Poinciana Area Business Directory membership. Becoming a member of PEDA, Murdock said, allows businesses to take advantage of a number of services that PEDA is now developing.
“We’re looking at a Web site, we’re looking at monthly fliers and newsletters, we’re looking at a Poinciana magazine, and we’re looking at creating a business directory,” Murdock said, adding that PEDA is also looking to rent office space to open a Poinciana Visitor’s Center, where they can work with business owners looking to expand, and local residents looking for employment opportunities.
“It would be a place for people to go to when they are looking for a job,” Murdock said of the proposed center.
PEDA would establish membership dues to help finance some of these programs, although Murdock said the annual dues would be low, likely between $25 and $50 a year.
“We want to divide the PEDA membership into three categories, for individual members, small business members, and large business members,” Murdock said. “We need to attract large businesses and small businesses alike. We want to have every business in Poinciana operating as a member of PEDA, and we’d like to put together a proposal for large and small businesses.”
As Murdock noted, the goal of PEDA will be to “keep steady plodding, one job at a time, one business at a time.”
PEDA was formed by a group of community volunteers, including Murdock, Wendy Farrell, and Fernando Valverde, because Poinciana was expecting up to 7,000 new construction jobs in the next few years, representing a variety of new projects. They include the construction going on now for the first hospital in the community, the Poinciana Medical Center; the Poinciana Parkway, a new toll road that will be built here to make it easier and faster for residents to get in and out of town; the widening of the heavily used Poinciana Boulevard; and a station for the new SunRail commuter rail line from downtown Orlando into Osceola County, which will end at Poinciana Boulevard. Those projects are estimated to create 7,000 construction jobs alone.
The original PEDA members sponsored an informational session last September for community residents, to help educate them about these projects and to help them write resumes and find out what they needed to do in the short run to qualify for those future jobs.
But since then, PEDA’s mission has expanded as the alliance began focusing more on promoting economic development and new business growth. They successfully sponsored a job fair on March 24 with Quality Labor Management, an employment agency based in Winter Park that hires people for construction projects around Central Florida, and PEDA is sponsoring a second job fair on June 9, with a focus on construction projects related to the new hospital and to the Poinciana Boulevard widening project.
“We’re going to start advertising that now,” Murdock said. It will be held at the Liberty High School cafeteria from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The school is at 4250 Pleasant Hill Road.
Murdock also stressed that PEDA’s business directory was not meant to be a competitor for a private agency like the Chamber of Commerce. Poinciana currently has the Poinciana Area Council, a group of business owners who meet once a month to network and sponsor and host special events like Career Days at the local high schools and an annual Business Expo. PAC operates under the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce.
The Polk County side of Poinciana can also be serviced by the Haines City/Northeast Polk County Chamber of Commerce, which runs from Haines City into Northeast Polk County.
Murdock said their goal isn’t to lure businesses away from any of these regional Chambers.
“We’re not going to try to compete with the Chamber,” he said. “We’re two separate entities.”
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