One of the best cities for small business, Orlando, Florida, offers so much more than big tourist traps.
Orlando may bring to mind images of theme parks filled with tourists, but its business climate is booming for more than just the tourism industry. Recognition includes:
Top 10, Fastest Growing Cities (CNN
Money, March 2014)
Top 25, Best Cities for Small Business (Biz2Credit, May 2014)
known for its tourist and convention business, Orlando has a strong technology and
medical business base,” says NFIB member Kevin McCarthy, founder of On-Purpose
Partners, a business-advisory company in Winter Park, Florida (just outside
Orlando). “We’re still a big service economy here, but with the University of
Central Florida, Valencia College, Rollins College and Full Sail University,
we’re much more than just tourism and entertainment.”
three tips for launching a business in a diverse city.
local organizations for help and resources
To learn more about Orlando’s business landscape and preparing your business for launch, be sure to check out:
Entrepreneur Center, which
provides business coaching, entrepreneurship seminars, a business toolbox and
more through 11 business development organizations in one location
· Orlando Economic Development Commission, for information about taxes, permits and licenses, available properties, funding opportunities and incentive programs
· University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program, which aims to connect new and prospective businesses with the tools, training and infrastructure for success
aware of the city’s vibe
Because of the warm climate, Orlando is an informal city, McCarthy says, and business casual is the typical attire for the vast majority of the business community.
look can be off-putting to some people, especially those coming from more
traditional business centers in colder climates, such as Chicago or New York.
Yet the lack of three-piece suits doesn’t lessen the seriousness of Orlando
business owners. Entrepreneurs should embrace cultural norms, McCarthy says,
because doing so helps connect them with the local community when hiring
employees, marketing your business, serving customers and creating and nurturing
your company culture.
Economic Opportunity Beyond Mickey Mouse
“We’re about to start a branding campaign that’s called ‘Orlando: You Don’t Know the Half of It,’” says Jerry Ross, executive director of the National Entrepreneur Center, based in the city. “[A bevy of tourist attractions] is mostly what people think Orlando is, but they don’t realize all the business that is going on here too.”
But beyond the
likes of a Disney World or Universal Studios, Ross says Orlando’s top two growing
industries with opportunities for small business owners are technology and
medicine. The city sits in the middle of Florida’s High Tech Corridor, which is
a technology-rich region connected by three research universities—University of
Florida, University of Central Florida and University of South Florida—as well
as a variety of economic development organizations, industry groups and tech
companies, all of which seek to develop the state’s technology industry.
also home to Lake Nona Medical City, a 650-acre health and life sciences park
devoted to medical care, research and education. Through Medical City and the
institutions housed there—University of Central Florida Health Sciences campus,
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, VA Medical Center, Nemours
Children’s Hospital and University of Florida Academic and Research
Center—Orlando is becoming a medical destination for care and treatment,
research and education.