A Look Ahead at 2020

The West Orange Chamber of Commerce kicks off another year of facilitating opportunity with new leaders, updated initiatives and the return of some of their most popular events. 

When I was younger, the year 2020 seemed so far away and futuristic! It’s actually here and the chamber’s leadership is ready for it. As with the start of every year, the chamber’s leadership changes as do our initiatives. 

The 2020 volunteer leader of our organization is Chairwoman Deborah Rios Barnes of CenturyLink. She brings tremendous experience to this chamber having served in leadership in the WOCC for several years. She continues to work closely with our immediate past chairman, Tim Haberkamp of Hardee’s in Pine Hills, and two others remaining in leadership positions, Camille Evans of Virtus LLP (Chairwoman 2021) and Mark Marsh, president/CEO of Orlando Health-Health Central Hospital. They’re joined by J.T. McWalters of Orlando Magic. The wealth of their combined talents and experience, along with the 27 other board members, continues to excite me and the entire WOCC team. 

Big Orange Awards

We’ll begin the new year by honoring some of our most revered members as 2019 award winners at the Big Orange Awards. These men, women and businesses have demonstrated leadership, philanthropy, community service and collaboration. Congratulations to Dawn Willis, Ellen Korbin, Ken Harker, Christian Service Center, Winter Garden Heritage Foundation, Pam Birdsong, Jim Karr and Pat Gleason.

The evening will also include awards for small and big business members of the year. Join us on Friday, Jan. 31 at Walt Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort to celebrate our winners.

Even as we prepare for this premier event, we have some wonderful surprises in store for fans of Best Fest – The Taste of West Orange, which will take place at the spectacular Starke Lake in Ocoee on March 26. I don’t want to spoil the surprises, so stay tuned. You won’t want to miss it!  

Something else you won’t be able to miss is the 2020 election. To help you navigate and decide who will be the best leaders in our county and state races, join us at our Hob Nob and Straw Poll on July 30. We will also give voters an opportunity to share their opinions on ballot initiatives. At this point, the chamber is monitoring the multitude of local and state amendments that may make it onto the November ballot. 

This event and others are all about providing information to our members and the community so we can all make informed choices to continually better West Orange County. Ballot initiatives are just some of the issues we will be looking into, but our greatest focus will continue to be on workforce development. Our businesses and employers need all of our help in developing the right labor force for the jobs of today so that our future continues to be bright. 

Happy New Year!


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Written by Stina D'Uva

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