POINCIANA – A fast-growing community of more than 80,000, with residents eager to get more businesses located in their back yard.
A community so hard hit by the recession and collapse in the housing market that people are fleeing the area.
Two images of Poinciana: Which one is correct?
And more importantly, can those trying hard to bring more companies — and jobs — to Poinciana get across the message that if you start a company here, the residents will patronize your business and deliver the profits you need to stay open?
“That’s the big obstacle,” said Nick Murdock, a member of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance, which is working to bring more jobs to this community made up of 10 villages that cut across Osceola and Polk counties.
“Motion creates motion,” he said. “We need to create jobs so people can work, and if people can work, they can stay here, and then we need to promote our businesses so people shop at these businesses.”
The alliance met this morning at Manhattan Kraft, the construction firm located right off Poinciana Boulevard. Murdock and Nestor R. Nuesch, both members of the alliance, have been in contact with business owners about relocating to the community, and they’re well aware that the community has good benefits to sell – and some challenges to overcome.
“There’s a lot of positive resources we have,” Murdock said. “Our objective is to put new resources into Poinciana.”
A big benefit is a host of new construction projects in the works, including the new hospital – the first one in Poinciana – that will be 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.
Murdock has estimated that these projects will bring close to 7,000 new construction jobs to the community. Wendy Farrell, another member of the alliance, said plans to build the new hospital on the Polk County side of Poinciana is already bringing new residents to the community.
“You see the amount of medical-related people who are moving in here because they know the hospital is coming here,” she said.
Another benefit, she said, is the community’s population – larger than some small cities.
“You have access to 83,000 people,” she said. “That’s a pretty good selling point.”
But the downside is the community’s lingering image, Nuesch said, that people are fleeing the community because there are no jobs here and too many foreclosed homes.
“The impression is everyone leaves Poinciana,” he said. “We have to change that image.”
The image is a false one, Farrell said, since the U.S. Census figures confirm that Poinciana’s 10 villages are home to more than 80,000 people.
A bigger challenge, she said, is high rents in Poinciana’s shopping plaza. The Fountains Plaza, closer to the Bellalago subdivision, has much cheaper rents and is full, Farrell added.
“Nester and I have been working on new businesses,” he said. “We do have some new businesses we’re talking to. But right now, it’s fairly cost-prohibitive to be here. The cost of the vacant shops for small businesses, the rent is astronomical.”
In the meantime, the alliance is organizing an informational event next month, to meet with residents and talk to them the construction jobs coming here next year. The event will be held 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.
“We have a real passion for helping the people in the community here,” Murdock said. “There’s a lot of opportunity here.”
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