But what he’s not doing is opening up a store that will be selling certain goods and services to area residents. Rather, he’s hoping to do something else: sell Poinciana to business leaders.
“We would like to make it into a total information center, and not just on economic development, but also on jobs and partnering with local businesses,” Murdock said. “We want to be someplace people can go to conveniently in the community, and have some maps for prospective projects we’re working on.”
Most of all, he said, he also wants businesses that are now outside of either Poinciana, Central Florida or the state to consider the benefits of relocating to this community of 10 villages that cuts across Polk and Osceola counties – and discover the benefits of setting up shop where there are already 84,000 residents and customers at their doorstep.
“We’re getting some good feedback on this,” Murdock said. “Everybody we’ve talked to is very excited about this.”
Murdock, who lives at the Solivita development on the Polk County side of Poinciana, is the chairman of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance, a newly incorporated non-profit organization working to bring more jobs, businesses, commercial development, recreational options, schools, public transportation, and social services to Poinciana.
And as this year marks the 40th anniversary of Poinciana becoming a community, so too does July mark PEDA’s one year anniversary. PEDA was formed in July 2011 by several local residents who wanted to find ways to link their neighbors to more than 7,000 construction jobs expected to come to Poinciana over the next few years.
In the past year, though, the group’s mission has expanded considerably, and since becoming an incorporated non-profit organization in May, Murdock and the other board members have been focusing on a new goal: to establish an information center in Poinciana that will become the agency’s home, and the center for its long term goal of spreading the word about Poinciana’s benefits to the outside world.
“That’s a top priority for us in 2013,” Murdock said. “We’ll probably get a storefront in one of the commercial centers, and we’ve looked at spaces in all three. We’d like to be in there as early in 2013 as possible.”
In the meantime, PEDA will be holding its monthly meeting on Wednesday, July 18 at 9 a.m. at the Poinciana Community Center, when the board members will mark its anniversary, look back at what they accomplished in the past 12 months – and also chart their course for the future.
“July will be our one-year anniversary, and at our next meeting, we will have some of our 2013 objectives to review,” Murdock said. “We’ll be working on this throughout the summer. It’s a big task. It’s a five year plan. We’re trying to partner with as many people as possible.”
The Polk County side of Poinciana represents a good example of what PEDA hopes to accomplish. Far more residential than the villages on the Osceola County side – which have commercial shopping plazas and the bulk of the community’s schools – Murdock said PEDA has outlined goals for the 31,000 residents who live on the Polk side.
That includes bringing a high school and middle school to Poinciana-Polk County, which now has two elementary schools; bringing more public transportation options to these residents; and finding more commercial development to open there.
On that final task, Murdock said, PEDA is now working with officials at Polk County’s Central Florida Devleopment Council at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale.
“We’ve having a lot of meetings on this,” Murdock said. “They’re very receptive to our ideas and goals.”
PEDA was formed in part because Poinciana is expected to benefit from thousands of jobs being created through a series of major construction projects, including the building of the community’s first hospital, the Poinciana Medical Center, and a new toll road, the Poinciana Parkway.
The volunteers who organized PEDA wanted to be sure that as many Poinciana residents as possible secured those jobs, so they organized an informational event last September to help people write resumes and get prepared for those construction jobs on the way.
In the months that followed, PEDA began reaching out to private businesses, educational institutions, public sector service agencies and others to convince them to consider Poinciana as a good place for future investments.
That’s why Murdock pushed to have PEDA incorporated as a non-profit agency, and now wants to open an office and information center where the board members can not only continue their work, but expand it.
“I think there’s a lot of things we need to look at and then to spell out to the community what our objectives are for the next year – and to prove that community involvement works,” Murdock said.
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