POINCIANA – Nearly 7,000 construction or medical jobs are expected to come to Poinciana starting next year, but until then, a group of local residents is doing the best they can to ensure that local residents are ready to claim as many of those jobs as possible.
“We want to be a very focused organization and find jobs in Poinciana,” said Nick Murdock, a member of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance. The group was formed about a month ago to help connect local residents with the jobs that are expected to come from a series of major construction projects moving closer to the groundbreaking stage.
“PEDA is the simplest economic development organization that we could possibly form,” Murdock said, as the group held its weekly at the office of Manhattan Kraft construction off Poinciana Boulevard. “PEDA’s mission is to promote and assist the economic development of Poinciana, creating new businesses, new jobs, and edifying the current and future business environment of the community.”
The community of 10 villages could definitely use a serious economic boost. Although Poinciana grew to more than 75,000 people in the past decade, the community that cuts across Osceola and Polk counties has taken a big hit since 2008 when the housing market crashed. Since then, the community has struggled to cope with a high unemployment rate and one of the steepest home foreclosure rates in the region.
Relief is coming next year on a variety of fronts. Construction is expected to begin by next spring on Poinciana’s first hospital, as well as an emergency room facility and medical arts building, being built by Osceola Regional Medical Center of Kissimmee.
The state is also building a station in Poinciana for the SunRail light rail system, a 61-mile long commuter rail line from Debary to downtown Orlando, which ends at Poinciana.
Osceola County commissioners are also expected to soon approve construction of the Poinciana Parkway, a toll road that would connect the community more conveniently to Interstate 4.
That’s a lot of future construction jobs on the way, and PEDA wants anyone in Poinciana with experience in this field to get ready to apply for them.
“We want to let the smaller guy know what we need to do,” said Letha Vanderhei, a member of the alliance. “I want to give them a fighting chance to get out there and get those jobs.”
To help do that, the alliance has organized an informational event that will be held on Thursday, Sept. 22. “Are You Ready?” is the main theme of the night. The informational session is being held 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.
“The September 22 job fair is going to be an information session,” Murdock said. “This is a long process.”
By the end of the year, he said, the alliance plans to reach out to the contractors that will be hiring people to work on these projects.
“Our task force will be working with whoever the contractors are,” Murdock said, adding that those construction jobs are expected on both the Osceola and Polk County sides of Poinciana.
“In Polk County, we’ve talked to the county commissioners about this,” Murdock said. “I’m trying to get as many subcontractors out of Polk County as we can.”
Murdock said he also plans to ensure that every business that attends the January job fair has something to offer – namely, a job, and will not be there simply for public relations reasons or to collect resumes for jobs they don’t yet have to provide.
“This is something we’re going to ask of them,” he said. “We’re going to interview the subcontractors beforehand.”
Wendy Farrell, another member of the alliance, said she plans to distribute flyers advertising the Sept. 22 information session to every business she can get to.
“I’m going to put them in every single business in Poinciana,” she said. “Every single business in Poinciana needs to be on board helping with this, because this helps everybody.”
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