Back in 2010, the West Orange Chamber developed a two-word purpose statement to best describe what we do and have been doing for decades: “facilitating opportunity.” What does that really mean? Turns out, it means something different for almost every member, yet we can categorize the opportunities into three groups, two of which have direct benefit for our members and the last provides benefit for the greater good of our community.
The most basic is providing relationship building opportunities that connect our members to do business with one another. Another is making sure our members have the opportunities to learn ways to better themselves, their employees and their companies. The last, perhaps the most important, is the chamber as the voice of business.
We understand that our members are spending their days running their businesses, taking care of their customers and they simply don’t have the time to keep an eye out for threats or even opportunities for their businesses. That’s what the chamber does best. We watch out for our business community while businesses are doing business.
The chamber has worked for decades to make positive changes in our communities – changes for the better on transportation, environment, quality of life, workforce and more. Years ago, before SR 429 was even built, the chamber worked to locate a major interchange at the intersection with SR 50. This interchange now puts West Orange County in a perfect location on a main arterial road that is a bypass for I-4. The chamber also worked to speed up the widening of SR 50, making this east-west corridor highly sought after as a place to locate a business.
In addition to these road projects in the center of our region, we have also been involved in the Sand Lake Road Study to better traffic flow and design in our southwest region. This will be a year focusing on connector roads from the 429 to SR 27 in Lake County – roads that are needed to enhance economic development in Horizon West.
It’s not just about roads either. The chamber’s leadership helped form an organization called the Friends of Lake Apopka. Their efforts have revitalized the lake so that it is now an international attraction for bird enthusiasts. These enthusiasts bring dollars to our communities that inspire the creation of new businesses, which in turn create new jobs and revenue. This is economic development at its best.
I haven’t even touched the surface of all this chamber is asked to be involved in by regional agencies like MetroPlan, CFX, East Central Florida Planning Agency, Orange County, OCPS and others. We are proud to give input, be a voice for our businesses and work together for the greater good of our community.