An Orlando businessman speaks on the city, the opportunities and the power of giving back.
Orlando may be synonymous with sunburned tourists, but it has lot more to offer than beaches and theme parks.
For proof, look beyond the sand to a 6,800-square-foot building in downtown Orlando. Here, in 1988, Walter Carpenter and his business partner, Tom Pinel Sr., carved out a space for Pinel & Carpenter, Inc. Today, the real estate consulting and appraisal firm in central Florida has 19 employees.
Orlando is a great city for a small business owner, thanks to weather, location and access to talent, says Carpenter, an NFIB member.
“Of course everyone thinks of Orlando in terms of tourism, but we also have the second largest university in the U.S.—University of Central Florida—which is a feeder for small and large businesses,” he says. “This results in Orlando typically having one of the highest employment rates in the state.”
About the Small Business
Pinel & Carpenter appraise a variety of properties—from residences, offices and farms to water parks, resorts and theaters, plus many more—but the firm specializes in the valuation and consulting for complex properties, such as the reuse of large military bases and transportation corridors/systems (think roads, rail and utilities).
How He Became a Small Business Owner
Carpenter’s father, a commercial mortgage banker, and his mother, a residential broker, had worked with real estate appraisers throughout their careers. They had always found the appraisal process interesting and encouraged Carpenter to take appraisal courses at the University of Florida when he was a freshman.
From there, he was hooked. He majored in real estate and minored in finance and graduated with a Business Administration degree in 1975.
Before graduating, Carpenter joined Rex-McGill Investment/Rex McGill Realty. Carpenter was offered an ownership position in 1983 and, after a series of name changes, the firm took its current name in 1985. Ten years later, Carpenter became the sole owner of the small business.
Doing Small Business in Orlando
Orlando is not unusual with regard to regulatory laws, Carpenter says, but small businesses are subject to similar levels of government oversight as larger companies. Becoming familiar with these laws is one of the first steps when launching a small business. Check out the city of Orlando’s website for a variety of resources.
“The city of Orlando, as well as Orange County, is very supportive of new and expanding businesses,” Carpenter says. “Job growth is key, and they often provide tax incentives for adding new jobs.”
Small Business Giving Back to the Community
Carpenter believes small businesses should give back to the community.
For example, the Downtown Orlando Partnership awarded his firm a “Golden Brick Award” for its revitalization efforts of its downtown property. His employees are also active in serving their community. They volunteer with many national and local charitable organizations, including the House of Hope, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, Easter Seals Florida, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and more.
Learn more about NFIB in Florida.