OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – With Osceola County being the second fastest-growing county in the state of Florida, the city of Kissimmee recently approved Operation Business Boost — a program to support and provide assistance to business owners and those looking into ventures as entrepreneurs.
“Most institutions fail because of one of two areas, either financial or academic,” José Otero said. Otero is the CEO of Otero Consulting Group, a company that looks at business plans for educational institutions locally and in other countries. “We’re able to look at how money is spent in a school, what kind of licenses, what kind of accreditation. It could be anything from a nursing, allied health to an HVAC tech.”
But when the pandemic hit the world, like millions of other entrepreneurs, Oteros’s company had to pivot to a different type of operation. With help from resources offered by the city of Kissimmee, Otero said he was able to continue his dream and grow his business, even adding more employees.
“I had folks that were able to look at my company from the outside, look at the operations and say, ‘Hey, you need structure in these areas.’ It was phenomenal advice, it was great guidance,” said Otero, a native of Puerto Rico.
Belinda Ortíz, director of economic development for Kissimmee, said those resources, launched to help business owners impacted by COVID-19, will continue in 2022 through the new program.
Operation Business Boost, an investment in the business community totaling more than half a million dollars, is something the city hopes will help entrepreneurs further recover and grow from the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The city, as well as the county, actually partnered with our business resource agencies and the different chambers of commerce that exist in Osceola County and we launched the “We’ve Opened Safely” campaign,” Ortíz said. “Operation Business Boost is our way of furthering that continuation of assistance to our business community. We understand it’s not just pivoting once because of the pandemic. You’re gonna continue to have to evolve.”
It’s an initiative looking out for the future of Osceola County.
“We have a very diverse community and it’s a very entrepreneurial-spirited community,” Ortíz said.
Operation Business Boost will give businesses easy access to grants, personalized business coaching, technical business support services and employee training, among other resources, most of which are free to entrepreneurs.
“This program is essential here in Kissimmee, but I think that some other state agencies need to be looking at this model because it is imperative for growth,” Otero said. “To be able to take a small business and give them the tools they need — just for a couple of years, that’s all—and give them the guidance they need, it will create a stable economy.”
The city of Kissimmee launched a new website, growkissimmee.com, where entrepreneurs can find information on the different resources and programs available.