The Association of Poinciana Village, the homeowners association that represents most of the community’s 10 villages, threw a big birthday bash on the Memorial Day Weekend and will host two other special events, in October and December.
In the meantime, a local group is also having a birthday celebration next month. It won’t be on quite the same level as the 40th-anniversary bash that the entire community is celebrating, said Nick Murdock, but it will represent, he hopes, a milestone for Poinciana just the same.
Murdock is chairman of the Poinciana Economic Development Alliance, a group formed in July 2011 with a simple mission.
In the next few years, Poinciana is expected to benefit from thousands of jobs being created through a series of major construction projects, including the building of the community’s first hospital and a new toll road. The volunteers who organized PEDA wanted to be sure that as many Poinciana residents as possible got those jobs, so they organized an informational event last September to help people write resumes and get prepared for those construction jobs on the way.
But since then, PEDA’s entire mission has dramatically expanded — and, Murdock hopes, so has their impact on the community.
“We will be celebrating our first anniversary in July,” he said. “Over the past year, we’ve tried to stay focused on our mission, which is creating new jobs and bringing in new businesses.”
That aspect of their mission has been a success, Murdock said, and, on June 9, PEDA hosted its third job fair this year. Resumes were accepted by several employers, including Robins Morton, the sub-contractors building the Poinciana Medical Center.
“Robins Morton will have more hiring in November, and more hiring probably after the first of the year,” Murdock said as PEDA held its June meeting on Wednesday at the Poinciana Community Center.
At the same time, an employment agency based in Sanford, Quality Labor Management, is working with PEDA to recruit construction workers from Poinciana for positions across Central Florida, Murdock said.
“QLM is working very closely with us now,” he said. “They’re trying to find jobs for people now.”
PEDA started in July 2011 with a group of volunteers who had a single, clear vision: to help people in Poinciana find much-needed jobs. They wanted to help Poinciana residents get ready for what’s expected to be up to 7,000 new construction and medical jobs coming to the community of 84,000 residents, through a variety of projects, including the Poinciana Medical Center and the Poinciana Parkway toll road.
PEDA’s initial goals were to hold an informational fair that helped residents put together a resume and learn how to apply for those construction jobs. But in the months that followed, PEDA began reaching out to private businesses, educational institutions, public-sector service agencies and others to persuade them to consider Poinciana as a good place for future investments.
So far, it’s worked, with agencies as diverse as Valencia College, the Salvation Army and TECO interested in expanding into Poinciana.
PEDA incorporated in May and is now looking to raise funds to open an office and visitors center in Poinciana, where its members can continue with the goal of bringing jobs, new businesses, social services and a long-term master plan to Poinciana.
“We want to do a business directory of every large and small business in the community,” Murdock said, adding that PEDA would host a business workshop in the fall. The goal of that workshop, Murdock said, is to pose the question, “What can economic development do for the community?”
PEDA will also ask those business owners to consider becoming members, paying an annual fee that helps cover the non-profit agency’s ongoing expenses.
“We also are going to ask people how much they are willing to donate to PEDA as memberships,” he said. “We do need to have funds to be able to open a visitors center and have a part-time executive director and a part-time clerical person.
“We want the business community to help us make a decision on that.”