POINCIANA – Wendy Farrell sees a lot of reasons to be optimistic about Poinciana’s economic future.
“We’re going to be having a lot of construction jobs,” she said. “Our goal for next year is 4,000 construction jobs in Poinciana, miniumum.”
That may sound pie in the sky for a community that’s been very hard hit by the housing market crash and the national recession. But Farrell isn’t just engaging in wishful thinking. By next year, Poinciana is expected to be starting several major construction projects, including the new hospital that Osceola Regional Medical Center is building here, the SunRail commuter rail station at the Poinciana Industrial Park, and the Southport shopping plaza at the intersection of Pleasant Hill Road and Southport Road.
That’s a lot of construction work being planned in Poinciana, a much needed boost to the local economy.
But Farrell – who runs her own business in Poinciana, Signature Promotions – isn’t taking any chances. She wants local residents to get as many if not all of those construction jobs, which is why she and a group of other local residents is organizing a jobs fair in the fall to help connect residents in Poinciana’s 10 villages with the jobs coming down the pike.
“It’s basically a jobs fair that is going to happen here in September,” Farrell said. The Poinciana Construction Jobs Fair will be held at the Community Center on Marigold Avenue, and will include a resume writing table to help local residents put together a resume so they can apply for the jobs expected to be generated from those projects.
“At this point in time, it’s being funded by a group of residents,” Farrell said. “We’re trying to give people some help to make them qualified for those jobs. That’s one thing we see as an issue in Poinciana.”
As part of this project, the Poinciana Digital Village – the community’s online source for news, community postings and other information – is developing an online registration for this jobs fair.
“I had been getting a lot of resumes coming in because of our unemployment outreach,” said Darhlene Zeanwick, who operates the digitial site. The jobs fair, she said, was the next logical step in helping match residents with those emerging jobs.
“It was a small group of us getting together to talk about these issues and what we’re going to do next with economic development in Poinciana,” she said.
But all too often, Zeanwick said, residents simply don’t have resumes.
“They would write in the email a description of the kind of work they did,” she said. “That’s a big thing in the construction industry. There are so many people without a resume. My fiancee is in the construction industry, and he has a resume. It makes a big impression because so many people in the construction industry do not have a resume, so we’ll fill a real need here.”
During the jobs fair, “I offered to go ahead and sit down at a booth with Wendy to help people build a resume,” Zeanwick said. “We’re moving forward on what we think is a huge need in the community.”
“We’ll be talking to other organizations to get them involved,” Farrell added. “There will be lots of people who were in construction and have gone into something else, and maybe they need to get back up to speed.”
Poinciana’s economy soared throughout most of the past decade, when demand for new homes caused a construction boom here and the population rose dramatically. But the downturn was steep when the housing market crashed in 2008, leaving the community with a high unemployment rate and saddled with a high home foreclosure rate as well.
Now the community seems more optimistic about the future. Gov. Rick Scott just approved a 61-mile commuter rail called SunRail, which would run from Volusia County to downtown Orlando, and then on to the Poinciana Industrial Park, the final stop on the route. The SunRail station there is expected to become a cluster for new businesses.
Osceola Regional Medical Center, the hospital in Kissimmee, is planning to build the first hospital in Poinciana, and Southport Plaza is expected to open by Christmas.
Farrell said these projects should bring a lot of jobs to the community that cuts across both Polk and Osceola counties. She wants local residents to be ready and able to fill them.
“Poinciana High has an engineering construction academy now and we’ll get them involved as well,” she said. “It’s bringing the next generation in to be involved in construction.”
That will also make the construction jobs fair timely and, most likely, highly beneficial, she said.
“Poinciana is the place to be in 2012,” she said. “There’s going to be lots happening.”
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