Sandy Geroux, moderator of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce's Breakfast of Champions gathering, welcomes in new members. (Photo by Vikki Hankins).
KISSIMMEE – Florida’s unemployment rate may be stuck in double digits, but that doesn’t mean that people are not branching out on their own and starting their own business.
That fact was reflected this morning at a meeting of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, during the business group’s regular Breakfast of Champions meeting, held at the Heritage Creekside Club inside the Good Samaritan Village.
Sandy Geroux, an author and president of WowPlace International — who served as the moderator of the breakfast meeting — asked if there were any new members in the room. She immediately attracted a long line of people waiting to introduce themselves to their fellow business owners.
That included business owners like Sam Haught, who operates Wild Florida, an airboat eco tour offering day and night excursions into a part of Florida left untouched by the region’s rapid residential and commercial development.
“It’s airboat rides in lovely St. Cloud,” Haught said. “We can show you what real Florida looks like, what natural Florida is like, and of course lots and lots of alligators.”
His business, at 3301 Lake Cypress Road in Kenansville, also offers a hands on gator exhibit, an exotic bird aviary, a gift shop and store, hunting and fishing guides, and a sightseeing pier.
“Wow, that sounds like fun,” Geroux said.
Another new member was Janet Perez Eckles, the author of the book “Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta.” She also runs a web site,
“This Tuesday, Aug. 9, I will be launching my latest book, ‘Simply Salsa,’ and I teach you how to dance for life,” Eckles said, adding that she comes to this field from a unique perspective.
“I’m blind, I’m completely blind, but I teach you how to see the best out of life,” she said.
Geroux said the Chamber has done well in recent months, attracting new members who are branching out to start their own company.
“More new members, this is wonderful to see,” she said.
The Chamber is trying to keep those members busy. On Wednesday, Aug. 10, the Chamber is hosting a Business After Hours from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Fairway Café & Patio, 4250 Village Drive in Kissimmee, where there will be refreshments, tours, door prizes, networking, and a DJ taking the guests on a nostalgic tour of summer classics from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
On Monday, Aug. 15, the Chamber is hosting its 2011 Welcome Back Expo: Back to School-Back to Business, at the Osceola Heritage Park exhibition hall from 2-8 p.m.
The Back to School segment is from 2-5 p.m., with more than 6,000 Osceola County school district employees expected to attend. The Back to Business portion is from 5-8 p.m., and is open to the Osceola County community and all businesses operating there.
“That is an incredible event,” Geroux said. “Thousands of people go to that, so you have to go to that, too.”
Members of the Chamber are also invited to attend a grand opening ceremony at Florida Family Medicine on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2120 Michigan Ave. in Kissimmee. The grand opening is at 11 a.m.
There will be free back to school giveaways, free blood pressure and glucose screenings, appetizers and drinks.
For more information on this event, call 407-483-8944.
For more information on the Chamber, call 407-870-8607.

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