Chamber Blog

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 
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