Wednesday’s Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce Osceola Update (previously called the Legislative Update) was yet another sign that “normalcy” seems to be returning to Osceola County.
The Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber’s Osceola Update, which took place in person at the Reunion Resort in Osceola County, welcomed elected officials from the Florida House and Senate who shared highlights from the recently completed legislative session in Tallahassee, as well as leaders in community-housing. Once the “novelty” of being in an “in-person” event had worn off, it was all about the actual content being shared from the stage, which outstanding and extremely relevant.
Chamber Chair-person Adrianna Sekula, who is Manager of Government Relations with Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts in the U.S., opened the event and introduced Chamber President/CEO, John Newstreet, who was recently selected to participate in the U. S. Chamber of Commerce’s fifth cohort of its premier business leadership program.
The event kicked off with 2-minute pre-recorded videos from each of the legislative delegation; Florida Senator Victor Torres, Representative Jose Tomkow from District 39, Representative from Fred Hawkins, and Representative Kristin Arrington, from District 43, then switched gears to a Q & A session, moderated by Leticia Adams, Manager of Government Relations with Walt Disney World Parks U. S., where the panel of elected officials were able to share more content from the recent legislative session – some good and some challenges they experienced.
Addressing an ongoing challenge in Osceola County and beyond, the event also featured a panel focused on community housing, which included Hope Partnership’s CEO Rev. Mary Lee Downey, Magic Companies Group, LLC’s CEO Hector Lizasuain, and Lee Steinhauer, Founder and President from the Steinhauer Group, LLC. The panel eloquently shared updates on affordable housing, shortages of housing locally and nationally, and changes in the business and real estate market locally in Osceola.
The event’s Keynote speakers were Brad O’Connor, Chief Economist for the Florida Realtors Association, introduced by Tiffany Henderson, Director of Corporate Communications for Kissimmee Utility Authority, and Mathew Doherty, an independent consultant who provides guidance to national, state, and local organizations that are looking for effective solutions to housing needs and homelessness challenges. Mr. O’Connor was introduced by Jake Kirchner, Vice President of Strategic Planning and Consulting for HCA Healthcare North Florida Division Osceola Regional Medical Center.
Along with a delicious meal from Reunion Resort, something many had not experienced in over a year, the event’s attendees experienced impacting information about the recent legislative session along with pertinent information with regard to housing challenges, both market, and affordable-based. Although the legislative delegation shared some very impacting information, the housing discussion and keynote speakers could have been its own event. The guests were inspiring and knowledgeable and touched on a wide span of housing content that had the entire audience engaged throughout the event – a sign that this subject is in need of further discussion and contemplation, specifically in Osceola County, one of the fastest-growing counties in Florida and in the United States.
The Kissimmee/ Osceola County Chamber of Commerce should be commended for organizing an event for the community that was both informative, engaging, and that truly mattered. It was evident in the countenances of those who were in attendance, that they were grateful once again to be able to be involved in the community they care about – in person.