“We’re really excited about that,” said Nick Murdock, the chairman of the economic development alliance, which met on Wednesday at the office of Manhattan Kraft in Poinciana.
The alliance is organizing an informational event this month, an opportunity to meet with residents and talk to them the construction jobs coming here next year. The event is going to be on Thursday, Sept. 22, with the theme “Are You Ready?” It will be at the Poinciana Community Center at 395 Marigold Ave. from 6-8 p.m.
Members of the alliance will discuss the construction projects on the way, let participants know what they need to do to qualify for those jobs, offer help with resume writing and interview techniques, highlight additional training opportunities, and provide information on upcoming job fairs, including one the alliance has scheduled for Jan. 19.
These job fairs are being scheduled in anticipation of a host of new construction projects expected to begin next year, bringing what Murdock has estimated will be up to 7,000 new construction jobs.
Those include a new hospital, Poinciana’s first, being built by Osceola Regional Medical Center next year; the SunRail commuter rail station being built off Poinciana Boulevard and Orange Blossom Trail; and the Poinciana Parkway, a new toll road.
The alliance is also creating a database of both employers and people in the community looking for work, said member Darhlene Zeanwick.
“We want a simple, workable database,” she said. “We’ll start with almost 3,000 contacts, and end up with — who knows, maybe three times that many.”
Murdock said he successfully reached out to TECO to get involved in not just the upcoming job fairs, but also to have a stake in Poinciana’s future in another way.
First, TECO – which is now at 501 Simpson Road in Kissimmee – plans to send representatives to the informational event, Murdock said.
“They will help get people qualified for the job fair and the jobs coming up,” he said. “That’s one thing that’s very positive for us.”
TECO offers certificates for people looking for entry-level employment in the workplace.
“They will definitely have people available for our event, and they will also be at the January fair,” Murdock said .
Even more importantly, Murdock said, he’s also working to get TECO something else: an office in Poinciana for local residents who don’t want to make the drive out to the Kissimmee campus.
Poinciana is made up of 10 villages that cut across two counties, Osceola and Polk. The community grew up leaps and bounds in the past decade, and now has a population that exceeds 80,000.
But it still has the feel of a bedroom community, in need of more services for local residents who otherwise have to drive to Celebration, Kissimmee, Orlando or Haines City to find what they need.
“We just need more shops here,” said Letha Vanderhei, a member of the alliance. “I don’t want to have us drive 45 minutes to shop.”
That’s part of what the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance is now working on: bringing more jobs and commercial growth to the community. Murdock said he’s been working behind the scenes recently to get more small business owners into Poinciana, if he can help them find a suitable location to operate out of.
“As far as business development goes, we have some new venues we will be taking soon,” he said. “I think everything is moving in a positive direction. We have several small businesses that would like to come into Poinciana and get offices, and I’m trying to negotiate space to have offices for them that are affordable and centrally located. There are small offices here that are affordable. Even though they may be leasing on a short term basis, six months to a year, at least they’ll be able to get some space and get set up.”
Among those small businesses, Murdock said, is TECO.
“That’s one of the things I’ve been working on,” he said. “We’re trying to get them set up and establish some offices permanently in Poinciana. They’re a part of my small business initiative as well. We want to have training classes right in Poinciana. If we can get electrical, carpentry and a/c repair classes, we can keep those classes right here in Poinciana, and that can make it easier for our residents to take those classes.”
TECO also offers medical-related training programs, Murdock said, which helps with the new hospital coming into Poinciana.
If he can find TECO and office, “At least they’d have space to operate out of for a couple of days a week, and hopefully that can turn into a satellite office,” he said.
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