Efforts underway to create a business incubator in Poinciana.

The opening of a new RaceTrak gas station and convenience store brought jobs to Poinciana, but more are needed. (Photo by Dave Raith).

POINCIANA – For the past few years, Poinciana’s 10 villages – which grew rapidly when the housing market was booming – have been struggling to recover from the collapse of the real estate market in 2008. The community’s very high home foreclosure and unemployment rates have made it difficult for some businesses there to successfully operate here.
To some extent, all of that is changing, noted Nick Murdock, the chairman of the Poinciana Economic Development Council, which is working to bring more commercial development and employment opportunities to the community that cuts across Polk and Osceola counties.
“PEDA is about jobs, and Poinciana needs jobs,” he said.
The recent openings of a RaceTrak and Marathon gas stations, and the ongoing construction work on the Poinciana Medical Center – the community’s first hospital, scheduled to open next summer – are bringing more jobs and opportunity to Poinciana, Murdock noted. At the same time, PEDA is now working with Art Ortero, the vice mayor of Kissimmee, on a new project: to open a business center in Poinciana that would help create new jobs locally.
Ortero said this is a project he’s now actively pursuing, and he and Murdock are encouraging as many Poinciana residents as possible to vocally support it.
“I’m working now to have a Poinciana Incubator Business Center to create jobs,” Ortero said. “The best social program we can have is jobs.”
Business incubators are designed to support the successful development of small and entrepreneurial companies through business support resources and services. It’s been demonstrated in other communities that the successful completion of a business incubation program can increase the likelihood that a startup will keep operating for the long term.
Incubator programs are often run in partnership with local universities or county economic development agencies.
If Poinciana can convince Osceola County to open one, Ortero said, “This will be an opportunity for small business to grow.”
Ortero said he’s now lobbying Osceola County leaders to open a center in Poinciana, and he said it doesn’t take long to start up a business center.
“We don’t have to wait years,” he said. “This thing can go up by the beginning of next year.”
He’d like to see one open next to the Wal-Mart superstore in Poinciana.
“I’m looking for the community’s support on this,” Ortero said.
Murdock said this is definitely a project worth pursuing.
“I think the business incubator could work out well,” he said. “Poinciana is a great location for small businesses, and there certainly is a great need here. PEDA is definitely on board. It sounds like something that would be very beneficial. We constantly get calls from people looking for office space.”
But to make it happen, Murdock said, it requires two things: a political leader to initiate the effort, like Ortero, and the support of the entire community.
“It needs a political champion,” Murdock said, adding that projects like this happen because the entire community pushes for it.
“Working together, we can solve a lot of the problems facing the community,” he said.

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