Mayor Teresa Jacobs Launches Fourth Holiday Heroes Toy Drive
In keeping with the tradition of Orange County’s “neighbors helping neighbors” philosophy, Mayor Teresa Jacobs invites the community to bring a smile to the faces of children in Orange County who may not have a single present to open this holiday season.
Mayor Jacobs announced the launch of her fourth annual Holiday Heroes Toy Drive at the Orange County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
“For me, the best part of the holidays is seeing the joy on our children’s faces,” Mayor Jacobs said. “Together we can help restore the true spirit of the holidays, the spirit of giving and the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what we do best in Orange County.”
Orange County citizens and employees will unite to help struggling families during the season of giving. Last year, the community collected more than 3,850 toys for area children and more than 2,600 were generously donated in 2012. Orange County hopes to exceed past collections to help as many deserving children as possible.
Donations will be provided to local families and children in need through the Orange County Neighborhood Centers for Families, Orange County Public Schools’ homeless program, the Community Food and Outreach Center, Wraparound Orange and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation in Orlando.
Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ Holiday Heroes Toy Drive begins Nov. 11 and ends Dec. 8, 2014. Suggested donations include basketballs, soccer balls, model cars, trucks, sporting equipment, craft kits, junior board games, dolls, Barbie sets, LEGOs, Tonka toys, action figures and sets, skateboards, helmets and tea sets.
Citizens are also invited to join in celebrating the season at Orange County’s annual Holiday at Heritage Square event hosted on Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. at the Orange County Regional History Center, 65 E Central Blvd.
Mayor Jacobs will flip the switch to light up the heart of downtown Orlando with popular regional mascots and special princesses from blockbuster animated films. At this free and festive holiday celebration, guests will enjoy musical performances from Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker, Faith Assembly Church Choir, the Grand Avenue Elementary School Choir and the Hillcrest Elementary School Choir. FOX 35 is the official media partner and some of their well-known TV personalities will be at the event. Florida Dairy Farmers have also generously donated milk cartons for milk and cookies for the children. Photos opportunities with Santa Claus, holiday-themed crafts and more family fun will be available at the event.
Orange County Solidifies Partnership with Small Business Administration
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs recently signed a Strategic Alliance Memorandum with the Small Business Administration (SBA), which extends vital assistance and training opportunities for local small businesses.
The memorandum, signed by Mayor Jacobs and SBA’s North Florida District Director Wilfredo Gonzalez, extends and formalizes Orange County’s lasting relationship with SBA and solidifies the shared goal of nurturing and providing assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the region.
“It important to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in our community achieve success,” Mayor Jacobs said. “These entrepreneurs are what help make Orange County such a fruitful and prosperous business community. The SBA does a fantastic job at providing the stepping stones for our small businesses to flourish.”
SBA provides aid, counsel and assistance to small business by providing financial, contractual and business development assistance and advocating on their behalf. The SBA promotes small business through education, training, work sessions, seminars and other activities conducive to Orange County’s economy.
“It is a top priority for this Administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration to strategically align with our community partners and local governments to better serve our small business communities,” Cassius Butts, Regional Administrator for the U.S. SBA said. “I am pleased beyond words to witness this historic strategic partnership between the SBA and Orange County. I commend Mayor Jacobs for her commitment to small business and to the entrepreneurial opportunities she supports every day.”
In 2013, Orange County allocated more than $1 million to fund economic development programs such as the Small Business Development Center, the local contingency of the SBA.
SBA provides counseling and technical assistance to entrepreneurs through its vast network of resources and community partners, including Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Centers, and SCORE chapters.
SBA recently funded two business accelerators in the Central Florida area, including Starter Studio, based out of Orlando, and Sunshine Labs, based out of Longwood. Each received $50,000 from SBA.
The SBA guaranteed more than $80 million worth of loans to Orange County businesses during fiscal year 2014.
Mayor Jacobs Joins Division of Building Safety at Iconic Construction Sites
Mayor Teresa Jacobs joined Orange County Division of Building Safety employee Vernon Ogden at the
construction site of I-Drive 360’s 400-foot-tall “Orlando Eye.”
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs lauded the continued success of the Division of Building Safety’s customer-centric, One-Stop Permitting Office during the Division’s recent annual staff meeting held in the Board of County Commissioners Chamber.
“It is important to step back and see what works, and why it matters,” Mayor Jacobs said. “Public safety is number one and customer service is so important.”
The Mayor went on to commend the team regarding the quantity of positive customer feedback and compliments the County has received about the staff’s exceptional work and customer service.
Following the Division of Building Safety staff meeting, Mayor Jacobs joined several team members in an interactive tour at the construction site of the new, luxury apartment homes, The Courtney at Universal Boulevard. She participated in the inspection process while staff informed her about the details involved in performing safety inspections of soon-to-be homes.
“The goal is for the Mayor to understand the extent we go to in order to inspect and ensure the safety of buildings,” said Alan Plante, a building official for the Division of Building Safety.
The group continued the field visit with a stop at another inspection location, the I-Drive 360 construction site of the 400-foot-tall Orlando Eye. Mayor Jacobs was safely lifted by crane in a construction crate to take a closer look at the massive inner wheel. The observation wheel’s air-conditioned cabins will be able to hold dozens of guests in each car, offering them a bird’s eye view of Central Florida.
The observation wheel will become part of the I-Drive 360 entertainment complex, which includes headlining attractions like the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando Wax Museum and the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, as well as other unique shops and restaurants. The site is located on International Drive, just north of the Orange County Convention Center.
Goodwill Industries of Central Florida Announces Jobs Initiative for
Homeless in Orange County
Lisa Nason, Chief of Strategy and Public Policy for the Office of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Andrae Bailey, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness announce job initiatives for homeless.
In an effort to address homelessness in the region, Orange County and Goodwill Industries of Central Florida announced the launch of GoodSource Staffing Services – a temporary staffing and job placement program that will assist individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of being homeless.
“Thanks to partners like Goodwill Industries, and by working with our many community partners, including the faith community, our social service and education leaders, the Regional Commission and more, we are committed to lifting our families and precious children onto the path of hope and self-sufficiency,” said Mayor Jacobs.
In addition to providing customized pre-employment training, GoodSource will screen, evaluate and place individuals with a variety of community employers. They hope to place 250 individuals in jobs within year one. Goodwill staff will identify program candidates with the help of community partner organizations and job placement specialists stationed at local shelters.
To launch the program, Goodwill is collaborating with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, a network of leaders that mobilizes entities dealing with homelessness and poverty issues in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. Mayor Jacobs co-chairs the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.
“Helping people with barriers to employment find jobs is central to Goodwill’s mission of building lives that work,” said Bill Oakley, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. “Joblessness and homelessness are integrally connected — and by addressing both, we can help individuals find a more sustainable path toward a better life. At the same time, employers can access on-demand staffing options to quickly fill their specific needs. It’s a win-win.”
GoodSource Staffing Services will be operated out of Goodwill’s West Orlando Job Connection and Adult Learning Center at 3200 W. Colonial Drive. It will provide qualified candidates for the following positions: accounting, customer service, light industrial, administrative assistants, clerical, data entry and file clerks.
“GoodSource Staffing Services is a historic new program that is significant and different from anything we have seen before in Central Florida,” said Andrae Bailey, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. “Similar to the concept of rapid re-housing, GoodSource offers rapid re-employment. A person experiencing homelessness who needs a job can go to GoodSource and start working immediately. The program’s focus on alleviating family homelessness will strengthen families and in turn, create a better community.”
Last week, Mayor Jacobs joined Florida Hospital at its announcement of the largest, one-time private donation to end chronic homelessness in Central Florida history — a momentous commitment that will change the way this unique population is cared for and supported in years to come. Lars Houmann, CEO and President of Florida Hospital, announced that Florida Hospital would generously commit $6 million over three years to address homelessness in the region.
At the Florida Hospital event, Mayor Jacobs also announced that she will lead an in-depth discussion regarding Orange County’s plan to impact homelessness as part of a scheduled Board of County Commissioners work session on Dec. 16. Orange County Government currently budgets $13.5 million towards homelessness, however, as announced at the press conference, Mayor Jacobs intends to work with the Board of County Commissioners to boost the funding to $15 million over the next three years for homeless housing, prevention and related family programs.
In addition to a proposed expansion of funding, Mayor Jacobs announced several key next steps. Working with the Central Florida Regional Commission for Homelessness, Mayor Jacobs has asked Dick Batchelor to lead a new committee focused on children and families who are homeless. Founder and President of Dick Batchelor Management Group Inc. and a longtime Central Florida resident, Batchelor is known internationally for his commitment to human rights, and renowned here at home for his tireless advocacy on behalf of children, families, domestic violence victims, our schools and more.
During his annual State of the City address, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced a bold goal of housing 300 of Downtown Orlando’s chronically homeless individuals in three years. The City of Orlando has committed $4 million over three years to support the “Housing First” model, a proven approach that provides housing with wrap-around supportive services to the chronic homeless.
These financial commitments are the kick-off investment of the “Impact Homeless Fund,” a new collaborative fund at the Central Florida Foundation. This fund will serve as a new public and private investment-solutions vehicle to help those facing homelessness in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties.