Chamber Blog

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Orlando serves as pilot city for the U.S. Chamber Foundation sustainability project

The Orlando Regional Chamber is proud to announce that the U.S. Chamber Foundation is bringing top-tier sustainability development initiatives to The City Beautiful. Orlando was chosen as the program’s pilot city due to its demonstration of a high degree of readiness for recycling and reuse system development. The City of Orlando’s GreenWorks initiatives, as well as its commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2050, have succeeded in putting Orlando on the map as a leader in sustainability nationwide.

The project, known as “Beyond 34: Recycling and Recovery for A New Economy,” is focused on breaking through the current 34 percent recycling barrier in the U.S. This unique, multi-stakeholder project will provide a scalable model for improving recycling and recovery rates to help communities, cities, and businesses achieve their sustainability and recycling goals.

“As the fastest growing region in the country, Orlando has a unique opportunity to show the world how large-scale sustainable growth can be achieved,” said Jim Thomas, executive director of the Orlando Regional Chamber. “Orlando is already paving the way in sustainability initiatives on a number of fronts including infrastructure, neighborhoods, recreation, transportation and energy. Business and community leaders here are committed to planning for a sustainable future; we are excited to support the Beyond 34 project in order to equip these business leaders with the tools and resources they need to achieve their sustainability goals.”

The U.S. Chamber Foundation, in collaboration with Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) and with funding from the Walmart Foundation, Target, Republic Services, The Dow Chemical Company, and Walgreens, will identify opportunities to improve recycling efficiencies within the region and construct a business plan that quantifies the economic and environmental benefits of recycling. The Foundation will use this project here in Orlando to develop a case study and toolkit for other communities nationwide to emulate. 

“Orlando is an ideal city to begin the Beyond 34 project,” said Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “Its strong private sector engagement, innovative culture, and robust sustainability goals were all factors that contributed to their selection. We look forward to engaging with local leaders throughout the project, and we are confident that Beyond 34 will help support the Orlando area’s mission to advance sustainability and economic growth.” 

The Orlando Regional Chamber is excited to work with B34 to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable future in the Orlando region. Find out more about the project here.

Posted by: Amanda Roche @ 3:00:00 pm 
Friday, September 22, 2017
Executive Connection Member Profile - Gravitational Marketing

Gravitational Marketing is a full-service advertising agency located in UCF’s Research Park. The company believes that life and business should be ESP–Enjoyable, Simple, Prosperous®. Our goal is to help businesses naturally attract more customers who buy, refer and return repeatedly.

Founders Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are UCF alumni, and the authors of the best-selling books Gravitational Marketing: The Science of Attracting Customers, Invasion of the Profit Snatchers and The Last Up: A Curious Tale About The Future Of Sales.

At Gravitational Marketing, its team spends days toying, tinkering and testing – tweaking their way to cutting-edge successes and matchless results. They strive to create formulas that help businesses achieve explosive growth. Since 2004, the company has spent more than hundreds of millions in advertising, generating over $20 billion in revenue for its clients.

The company's roots are in traditional media, like radio, TV, mail and print, but recently, Gravitational Marketing has partnered with Facebook. With 98 percent account optimization in Facebook advertising campaigns, Gravitational Marketing has now cracked the code of effective online marketing. Additionally, it has a suite of proven digital marketing strategies that leverage Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and email.

Not only does the company drive results for its clients, but Gravitational Marketing has also cultivated an office culture that is second to none within the Orlando community. Gravitational Marketing was voted one of “Orlando’s Coolest Office Spaces” this past year. Plus, the Orlando Business Journal has ranked Gravitational Marketing one of "Central Florida’s Best Places To Work" the past four years in a row. It has also received the distinguished "National Best Places To Work" certification.

Gravitational Marketing's mission is to inspire and encourage people and companies through creativity to think differently, to be better, to achieve more than they ever thought possible by breaking norms and making life and business ESP–Enjoyable, Simple and Prosperous®. 

Gravitational Marketing is the proud founder of the Same Is Lame® Foundation. Based on the children’s book Little Jimmy Says, “Same Is Lame” by founder Jimmy Vee, the Same Is Lame® organization believes exceptional people create extraordinary impact in the world. The foundation, its projects and its volunteers help outstanding children foster their unique talent through financial support, emotional encouragement and mentorship.

 For more information visit

Posted by: Lisa Addy @ 12:00:00 am 
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Orlando Economic Partnership hires expert to lead research and foundation work

The Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) is proud to announce the hiring of Dr. Dale Brill, who will join the Partnership as a Vice President in mid-October. Dr Brill will lead the organization’s strategic research efforts and fully activate our Foundation for Building Community, creating the opportunity for additional corporate funding and programming.

“Dr. Brill’s analytical acumen and experiences in both the private and public sectors will further strengthen our role in supporting the region’s economic capacity for quality growth and broad-based prosperity,” said Tim Giuliani, President and CEO of the Orlando Economic Partnership. “He will also oversee our flagship Leadership Orlando program. By adding an intellectual, scholarly approach to our work, Dr. Brill will elevate our research efforts, create a robust platform that informs our community on critical business development decisions, our branding efforts, transportation strategy and, most of all, he will stay ahead of economic trends by forecasting developments that could have a major impact on our region.”

Brill, who earned his Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Tennessee, has led a variety of organizations including:

  • Florida Chamber Foundation as President where he introduced the comprehensive, 20-year strategic state-wide platform known as the Six Pillars;
  • Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development as Executive Director where he succeeded in helping to diversify Florida’s economy and pioneered the first-ever implementation of Economic Gardening;
  • Visit Florida as the Chief Marketing Officer during which the organization earned the “Atlas Award for Best Destination Branding” from the Association of Travel Marketing Executives; and
  • General Motors Corporation where he served as the Global Business Leader and Dean of E-Commerce teaching the organization to utilize the internet as an effective sales tool.

Currently based in Tallahassee, Dr. Brill serves as the Chair Elect of the Florida Research Consortium, and has contributed to professional and community organizations including the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform.

“The eyes of the state's business community are on the Orlando Economic Partnership’s bold moves in driving the region’s economic transformation,” said Brill said. “The opportunity to be part of this movement couldn’t be resisted.”

Brill comes to the Partnership after founding his own consultancy agency, Thinkspot, Inc., and will begin his new role in mid-October, 2017.

Posted by: Amanda Roche @ 11:00:00 am 
Friday, September 15, 2017
Hurricane Recovery Assistance

As we continue to access damage and begin the recovery process from Hurricane Irma, the Orlando Regional Chamber is also here to help our region’s business community get back to normal as quickly as possible. Currently, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is assessing the damage caused by the storm. Businesses that have incurred losses due to Hurricane Irma are asked to complete a Business Damage Assessment Survey. This survey will help the State Emergency Response Team determine the needs and level of assistance for impacted businesses. To take the survey, please visit

Florida businesses impacted by the hurricane may apply for various state and federal disaster loan programs. Please share the information below with anyone who made need it:


Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC), the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan helps businesses bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration loans. Up to $10 million has been allocated for the program.

Under the program, eligible businesses in all 67 Florida counties with two to 100 employees may apply for short-term, interest-free loans for $1,000 to $25,000 for 90 or 180-day terms. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to September 4, 2017, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Irma. 

To Apply for a Bridge Loan
Visit for more information and to apply for the Florida Emergency Bridge Loan program. The deadline to apply is October 31, 2017.

Florida Chamber of Commerce Post Hurricane Assistance

Florida Emergency Information Line: 1.800.342.3557



Homeowners, renters and business owners in Brevard, Citrus, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Polk, St. Lucie,  Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties may now apply for federal disaster assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from Hurricane Irma.

To be eligible for federal aid under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, storm damage and losses from the hurricane and flooding must have occurred as a result of Hurricane Irma, beginning Sept. 4.

Register with FEMA as soon as possible. If you preregistered with FEMA, you do not have to apply again. If you have phone and/or internet access, you may register:

  • online at
  • via the FEMA Mobile App
  • call 800.621.3362 (FEMA) - applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may also call 800.621.3362; people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800.462.7585
    The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available. Press 2 for Spanish and 3 for other languages.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is November 9, 2017. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.

Upon registration with FEMA, businesses may apply for a disaster loan a number of ways:

  • Submit an online application at;
  • Download an application from and submit to a SBA disaster recovery center or mail to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155;
  • Visit a SBA recovery center for one-on-one assistance; or
  • Visit their local Florida SBDC for assistance. 
Posted by: Jim Thomas @ 12:00:00 pm 
Monday, August 28, 2017
2017 Central Florida Political Leadership Institute class announced

The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI) announced the members of its 2017 class. This innovative, groundbreaking program is designed to strengthen and equip the region’s future leaders with training prior to their decision to run for public office. Since its inception in 2008, 17 graduates have served public office in the Central Florida region. Twenty-one finalists were chosen from Central Florida including Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia.

A Selection Committee consisting of Investors and Members of BusinessForce reviewed the strength of applications, conducted interviews and selected the participants, ensuring representation from a wide range of business, civic and community organizations across the Central Florida region. They include:

Denise Beamer | Florida Office of the Attorney General

Zane Beard | Florida Department of Financial Services

Melissa Byrd | Orange County Public Schools

Rob Campbell | CNL Financial Group

Lyndon Carter | Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A; Chair, Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC)

Harry Ellis | Next Horizon

Wilfredo (Will) Fonesca | La Rosa Realty

Mike Gorritz | Avant Healthcare Professionals

Eric Gray | United Against Poverty Orlando; Graduate, Leadership Orlando, Class 66

Lori Hagey | Feeding Children Everywhere

Brock Hankins | Allen, Dyer, Doppelt + Gilchrist P.A.

Amer Hatoum | ACR Solutions, LLC

Susan Makowski | Orange County Government

Natalie Martinez Varela | Align Public Strategies

Kahalid Muneer | Jupiter Properties, Inc.; Board Member, Orlando Economic Partnership

Amy Pennock | Pennock Consulting Group

Gonzalo Senior | IRM-Investments, Real Estate & Management

Raleigh (Lee) Steinhauer | Greater Orlando Builders Association

Heather Trick | Jordan Law FL P.A.

Matt Weber | ROAR! Internet Marketing

Kari Whaley | President/CEO, St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce

“The Central Florida Political Leadership Institute trains those considering a future bid for public office on how to campaign, teaches leadership skills for effective governing and educates participants on the critical public policy issues that are affecting our community,” said Craig Swygert, chair of BusinessForce. “We are thrilled with the incredible diversity of the selected applicants and look forward to their thoughtful determination if elected office is part of their future,” continued Swygert, of Clear Channel Outdoor Orlando and a corporate sponsor of PLI.

The 2017 Political Leadership Institute sessions will be held Thursday, September 21 through Saturday, September 23, 2017 at the GuideWell Innovation Center in Lake Nona Medical City. During the course of the bipartisan three-day session, Institute participants will hear from prominent local, state and national experts discussing a broad range of topics – government, media, campaigning, fundraising, grassroots efforts, ethics and key public policy issues. Following the campaign school, participants will undergo numerous leadership activities throughout the year and important networking opportunities.

There is no cost to apply or attend. PLI is made possible by the support of its sponsors including AT&T, BusinessForce, Clear Channel Outdoor, Orlando Economic Partnership and Universal Orlando Resort.

For additional information, please contact Robert Agrusa, Executive Director of BusinessForce and Director of the Central Florida Political Leadership Institute at 407.907.8082 or via email at

Posted by: Robert Agrusa @ 11:00:00 am 
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Orlando Economic Partnership settles into new location

Business will go on as usual but it will happen in a new location starting September 8, 2017 when the staff of Orlando, Inc., (Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce) and Leadership Orlando move to the permanent home of the Orlando Economic Partnership on Pine Street in downtown Orlando.

The Chamber occupied the now iconic building on S. Ivanhoe Boulevard since 1968. In that time, a number of changes swept through the city including the construction of the adjacent Interstate 4, explosive growth of high-rise developments in the city’s core, and the completion of Sunrail’s Phase I.

The land the building sits on is owned by the City of Orlando and was leased to the Chamber for 50 years for $1 per year. The Chamber paid for the construction of the building and has been good stewards of the property ever since, maintaining its appearance and functionality.

The move is one of the final steps in completing the merger of the Central Florida Partnership and the Orlando Economic Development Commission. The new combined organization, the Orlando Economic Partnership, works to provide the Orlando region with quality jobs, economic growth, broad-based prosperity and a sustainable quality of life.

The Partnership will conduct all business at 301 E. Pine Street, Suite 900, in Orlando. The location, recently renovated to accommodate the needs of the new organization, includes collaborative work spaces, open staff workstations and a new meeting room designed for large groups.

Posted by: Laureen Martinez @ 12:00:00 pm 
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Business Success Strategies focuses on Orlando' role in leading the innovation economy

The innovation economy is shifting the focus of societies around the world. Instead of economies focused on developing and distributing valuable commodities from scarce resources, society's new goal is to increase the quality of life for all and expand wealth by developing new business models, products and services, and forms of production.

In August, Orlando, Inc. held its quarterly Business Success Strategies (sponsored by Cocoa-Cola and Insperity) with a full house of strategic thinking members who heard a panel discuss Orlando’s role in leading the innovation economy. The panel participants included:

“I’ve seen some great work take place in Orlando and there’s been tremendous advancement with Central Florida’s $6 billion modeling and simulation industry,” said Armstrong. “I like to say innovation is executing on creativity.”

Patel added that he enjoys “manufacturing serendipity” and explained how. “Today you're lucky to hold onto someone's attention for seven seconds, much less 15 minutes. So, when we discovered that virtual reality environments were giving us a tremendous increase in attention spans, we knew we were onto something,” said Patel.

The pinnacle of high stakes innovation can easily be found at NASA where Trey Carlson adopted the mantra "failure is not an option." The Space Coast was on the brink of failure when the shuttle program ended and the community had to find new ways of doing business. “NASA has a renewed focus on partnerships and collaboration that has led to tremendous success, innovation and job growth all around Kennedy Space Center,” he said.

The innovation economy stands to make even more far-reaching changes in the world. The innovations that have been made over the last few decades, alone, have altered the way we live our lives and the way we do business.

About Business Success Strategies
Business Success Strategies is designed for Orlando Inc. members and Orlando Economic Partnership investors to discover business intelligence from local leaders who share their skills, experience and best practices that lead to success. This builds your business by accessing new tools, ideas, resources and connections that will provide a competitive advantage, while exploring new opportunities. To learn more about Business Success Strategies, or for more information about Orlando, Inc., visit

About the Orlando Economic Partnership

The Orlando Economic Partnership (the Partnership) works to provide the Orlando region with quality jobs, economic growth, broad-based prosperity and a sustainable quality of life. It is a not-for-profit, public/private partnership representing Central Florida's seven counties – Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia – as well as the City of Orlando. The Partnership was formed from the merger of the Central Florida Partnership and the Orlando Economic Development Commission.

Posted by: Danielle Permenter @ 4:00:00 pm 
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Partnership honored with Florida Regional Impact Award

Leadership Florida, a statewide leadership identification and training program, presented the Orlando Economic Partnership with the Florida Regional Impact Award during the 35th Annual Conference in July. The Florida Regional Impact Award was established to recognize a business or non-profit organization whose specific project or body of work transformed the future of its region while also having the potential to transform Florida as a whole.

Jacob Stuart, advisor to the Orlando Economic Partnership President and CEO and Regional Ambassador, accepted the award at the annual conference. “The Central Florida Region is forever linked to the state of Florida and as a result, the work of Leadership Florida is critical to our shared success,” said Stuart.

The annual conference also showcases the graduates of the most current class of Leadership Florida and formally presents the new President and CEO, Wendy Spencer. More than 400 professionals representing all parts of the state attended the conference.

Leadership Florida has developed a reputation as a builder of a stronger statewide sense of community. As a respected non-partisan convener of committed individuals, Leadership Florida enhances the knowledge and abilities of Florida’s leaders through educational programs and collaborative work. “Leadership Florida provides Floridians essential information and a meaningful forum for their opinions, and creates opportunities for shared experiences that are inviting, inspiring and of lasting value,” added Stuart.

Posted by: Amanda Roche @ 3:42:00 pm 
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