You only get one chance every year to start a new decade.
As we put the wraps on the decade of the 2010’s here in Osceola County, we’re asking local officials and “movers ‘n shakers” to reflect on the last year of this one and the first one of the new decade, the “Roaring ’20s”, and how we’re going to best usher it in.
Diana Marrero-Pinto is the Executive Director of Kissimmee Main Street.
Kissimmee’s downtown has a Main Street, and a Broadway. It’s Diana Marrero-Pinto’s job to encourage people to shop, eat, play and have a good time downtown, and help businesses feel positive about doing that business.
Here are her thoughts on the past year, the one upcoming and what downtown Kissimmee might look like when we do this again in 2029.
What were the biggest “wins” for Main Street and the downtown community in 2019?
This year we enhanced existing, successful events and created new ones with goal of having at least one event per month. BOO! on Broadway kicked off our fiscal year the last Friday in October. The 2018 BOO! On Broadway boasted an attendance of over 5,000.
In November, we kick off the holiday shopping season with Small Business Saturday complete with Selfies with Santa. In February the Kissimmee 5K literally ran through town. In addition to these events, we host a Hop on Downtown Easter celebration, a Sculpture Pub Crawl, and a Menorah lighting, clearly proving in Downtown Kissimmee, we welcome the world.
We have seen an economic increase in the area in the last 12 months, with more than 14 new businesses opening in the downtown and four existing businesses expanding. Two of the four opened second locations in Orlando and Miami, one although remaining in the downtown leased a larger space, and the fourth and fifth, who had been leasing, purchased a building downtown and expanding the services they provide. This growth generated no less than 36 jobs. Kissimmee Main Street assistance to new and existing businesses has grown and includes education, advocacy, mentoring, and specialized unique publicizing. Cultivating a mentoring environment in downtown is something we have created and strive to maintain among the merchants.
With weekly connections over coffee and private group social media pages our merchants are given the opportunity to connect and build relationships with other owners. These opportunities assist new businesses with much needed advice and direction, while engaging long standing businesses in the growth and progress of the district.
What are you looking forward to in 2020?
What has the best chance of occurring? With the addition of the Historic Monument Markers, we propose to continue to put an emphasis on our history and promote the Kowtown story, a story that sets us apart from others in Central Florida and continues to be the reason cited in surveys as why respondents visit Historic Downtown Kissimmee.
In response to the increasing demand to provide assistance to the small merchants, Kissimmee Main Street and the City of Kissimmee changed the primary focus of the Event Coordinator position and created the newly titled Small Business Liaison, who is responsible for assisting start up business with understanding permitting and zoning while providing information on various other resources including SBDC, Esperanza, and the UCF Incubator.
The role compliments the “Imagine the Possibilities” tours where registered entrepreneurs are given a tour of the downtown along with an informational kit containing next steps should they decide to pursue a business in this district. For existing businesses, the role is to provide direction, clarity, and assistance, on any number of topics, from expansion, signage, community engagement and permitting. Our goal is to ensure all businesses entering the CRA district are aware of and when needed, utilize the services of this position. Lastly, through continued partnerships and merchant contributions we intend to increase arts in the area.
By the end of the ’20s in ten years, what do you think community will look like as far as infrastructure and how residents interact with leaders and each other?
Through the wonderful efforts of the City of Kissimmee we will see a beautiful, walkable, visually appealing, community. This will complement the work Kissimmee Main Street will be undertaking to create a vibrant downtown with a rich history we continue to preserve and display through events, coupled with successful, rewarding small businesses.