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Chamber Celebrates a Successful Best Fest, Looks Forward to Healthy Future

By Rob Maphis, WOCC Chairman

April has been another banner month for the West Orange Chamber of Commerce and its members. We all enjoyed and contributed to another wildly successful Best Fest, “The Taste of West Orange,” hosted for the first time this year by the City of Ocoee. Starke Lake provided a magnificent backdrop for the evening’s festivities, and you all did a wonderful job of warding off the rain. We would like to thank all of our sponsors, vendors, volunteers, and attendees; we could not put this event together without such an amazing community effort.

We would like to congratulate this year’s Best Fest winners. BEST Food went to Table Top Catering, Pilars Martini took home BEST Beverage, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice created the BEST Dessert, and the BEST Business Booth went to Observer Media Group. Congratulations go out to all of our participants as well for making our voters agonize over the many incredible options.

Click here to see Best Fest photos

Now that we’ve had our fill of so many delicious foods and beverages, it’s time to focus on being healthy. The West Orange Healthcare District, Orlando Health – Health Central Hospital and the Observer Media Group – three organizations spanning over 200 years of service and partnerships in the West Orange community – have joined together to inspire an improved future for the West Orange Community through championing a health and wellness cultural transformation! This will be accomplished with a focus on four key areas: Health Status, Nutrition, Physical Fitness and Lifestyle Choices.

As Florida's Three-Time Chamber of the Year, we now set our sights on being the healthiest chamber as well. The Chamber has endorsed the Healthy West Orange program and looks forward to helping create the Healthiest Community in the Nation! We encourage all of our members to join with our support by taking the pledge at as a business and encouraging employees to do so as individuals. Plan to join us at the next Healthy West Orange Health and Wellness Expo at West Orange High School on May 21 from 10 to 4pm! 


Rob Maphis




West Orange Chamber Supports The Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act

The West Orange Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors made the decision to support the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (S.2707/H.R. 4773) introduced on March 17 by Senators Scott and Alexander, and Representatives Walberg and Kline. The bill would prevent the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime regulation from taking effect and directs the Secretary of Labor to conduct a more detailed economic analysis to determine the impact on an array of employers before proposing a new rule.

Last July, the Department of Labor proposed a dramatic change to the regulations that determine whether a “white collar” employee (executive, administrative, or professional) is eligible to be paid overtime for any hours worked beyond 40 per week. Currently, if these employees are performing the “primary duties” of their classification and paid a salary more than $23,660 annually ($455/week), they are classified as exempt from being paid overtime. The new proposal would increase that salary to $50,440 annually ($970/week), and increase it annually.

If implemented, this higher salary will mean many employers will have to either increase their employees’ salaries to keep them exempt, or reclassify them as hourly employees and possibly pay them overtime. For many of our small businesses, and other employers, this could mean a disastrous financial hit, or reducing their ability to serve their customers. Continue Reading
Congratulations to our February CFO, Chris Garcia of First Impressions! Chris was honored at the March Business After Hours event.
Click here to see this month's new and renewed members!
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Florida Chamber Announces Speaker Steve Crisafulli as 2016 Most Valuable Legislator
The Florida Chamber of Commerce recently released its annual publication How They Voted, and announced House Speaker Steve Crisafulli as the 2016 Most Valuable Legislator.

“While others talk about Florida’s long-term future, Speaker Crisafulli actively charges forward toward what is right for our state and knows firsthand the importance of fighting for free-enterprise principles,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Full Story

Duke Energy Contributes $5,000 to Matthew's Hope Ministries
Debbie Clements, Community Relations Manager for WOCC Community Trustee Duke Energy, recently presented a $5000 donation to Matthew's Hope Founder Scott Billue to assist Matthew's Hope in continuing its mission of serving the homeless men, women, and children of our community.

City of Ocoee Summer Camp Registration Begins
The City of Ocoee’s summer camp program gives children an opportunity to explore new places and create memories that last a lifetime.  Action-packed summer camp days are filled with adventures including field trips, arts and crafts, swimming, games and sports. The Ocoee Parks and Recreation Department will begin accepting summer camp registrations at the Jim Beech Recreation Center today (April 26) for Ocoee residents, and open enrollment for residents and non-residents begins May 3. Learn More
Friskics Celebrates Ten Years at Garden Theatre
On April 18, Garden Theatre celebrated Executive Director Alauna McMillen Friskics' 10th anniversary! Alauna has worked tirelessly since the renovation of the theatre was first underway, and her passion has brought it to the place it is today - a $1 million+ organization that welcomes over 65,000 patrons through its doors. We can't wait to see what the next 10 years will bring! 
Bright House Networks Enterprise Solutions Named InfiniSys Service Provider of the Year
Bright House Networks Enterprise Solutions announced today that it has been named the 2015 Service Provider of the Year by InfiniSys, the multifamily industry’s leader for independent, innovative technology expertise. Infinisys’ Service Provider of the Year award recognizes the top service provider in the nation who has gone above and beyond to meet customer expectations. Read More
Orange Schools to Offer First Vendor Training Course for Small Businesses
For the first time, the district’s Office of Business Opportunity will be teaming up with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to offer a training class for Orange County Public Schools’ small vendors. The purpose of the class is to enhance the technical and business management skills of these vendors, increasing their preparedness to compete for work with both agencies. The classes, taught by Construction Estimating Institute, offer classroom and on-the-job training designed to enhance technical and business management skills. Experienced professionals provide classroom instruction and technical assistance. OCPS currently has more than 13,000 registered vendors. Read More
Bank of America Increases Funding for Women Entrepreneurs
Bank of America announced that it is doubling its investment in the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program (formerly Elizabeth Street Capital) to connect more women small business owners to affordable capital through community development financial institutions (CDFIs), including Accion East. Since the launch of the program in 2014, Accion East has invested $119,000 in affordable loans to 17 women in Florida. Now, following this announcement, Accion East will receive an infusion of funds to help more women entrepreneurs in Florida to maximize their economic potential. Read More
Oakland Nature Preserve Summer Camp Registration Now Open
Does your child love exploring the outdoors? Join us at Oakland Nature Preserve this summer for nature adventures! Summer camp is now open to incoming 1st-6th graders, each week will be a different theme; classes are from 9am-3pm Monday-Friday. June 20-24 will be our Survival Camp, June 27-July 1 are the Wildlife Warriors, July 11-15 will adventure on a Water Journey, July 18-22 are the Nature Explorers. Learn More
Orange County Mayor Jacobs Reflects on State of the County
Mayor Teresa Jacobs: "On Earth Day, April 22, I welcomed our community to the 2016 State of the County address held at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on our world-famous International Drive, the heart of our thriving hospitality and Convention Center district. With more than 750 citizens in attendance, and so many more watching online, I provided citizens and guests with an overview of our prosperous economy, strong job growth, stable and fiscally responsible management of County finances and our well-defined plans that will enhance Orange County's quality of life for future generations to come." Read More

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