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Windermere Observer Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019 2 weeks ago

Chamber to host Horizon West primer

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The West Orange Chamber of Commerce is giving community members an opportunity to lunch and learn about the ever-growing Horizon West area.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

With the rapid growth occurring in Horizon West, more eyes are fixed on the community now than ever before.

That focus has the attention of businesses and community members alike, and it’s also why the West Orange Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its first Horizon West Luncheon since 2013. 

The master-planned community accounts for about 4% of Orange County, and in 2018 roughly 50% of all building permits came from the Horizon West area. However, the area still has more growing to do, and many local leaders and community stakeholders will gather at the luncheon to hear more about what’s to come.

The purpose of the Horizon West Luncheon — which will take place Wednesday, Oct. 9 — is to educate chamber members and citizens on Horizon West, as well as to provide a primer both on the growth and development happening now and on what the future holds.

“The concept will be focused on the growth of Horizon West,” said Krista Carter, vice president of the WOCC. “We’re going to talk a little about where it’s at right now and what to expect in the future, not only for people that live there but also for the businesses.”

Four featured panelists, who are either stakeholders within or who have specific knowledge on the Horizon West area, will speak about the community in a question-and-answer format. The moderators for the event are former Orange County District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd and current District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey. 

“Both of them know so much … about this project because of their positions, and (I think) they’re the best that can lead that conversation because of their deep knowledge of the area,” Carter said.

The four panelists are Pam Gould, Orange County Public Schools District 4 School Board member; Olan Hill, assistant manager in the county’s planning division; Loren Bender, vice president of business operations and finance at Valencia College; and Ken Kupp, partner at Boyd Development.

“Because Boyd Development is so integral in the development out there and owns so much of the property, obviously we wanted them at the table, because they’ve spearheaded the development at this time,” Carter said. “Loren Bender is a panelist because Valencia has property out there. We know that higher education is going to be a key component of the development of Horizon West, so we brought him in, and the same goes (for) Pam Gould because of the fast growth and need for schools. Olan, he has been intimately involved in the planning stages of Horizon West and he has a great deal of knowledge on the process, the next steps and how everything comes to fruition.”

Betsy VanderLey (Courtesy photo)
Betsy VanderLey (Courtesy photo)
Scott Boyd (Courtesy photo)
Scott Boyd (Courtesy photo)

Boyd and VanderLey will lead the question-and-answer session, which will consist of questions both curated by community leaders and from residents in attendance. The topics discussed will revolve around “everything Horizon West and then some,” Carter said.

“Future business opportunities will definitely be discussed, as well as the demographics and what’s trending in that area,” she said. “A lot of it is going to deal with the phenomenal growth out there and then how to navigate that. (We’ll talk about) the connectivities of the roads, as well as the trails, transportation connection with the roadways, and we’ll also talk about the new business coming in and the regional park.”

One dollar from each ticket sold will be contributed to the West Orange Foundation, which aims to support the communities involved in and served by the chamber.

Carter hopes that attendees are able to leave the luncheon with more knowledge of Horizon West, its growth and opportunities to be a part of that growth.

“Horizon West is one of the fastest-growing regions in Central Florida — it’s an explosion (of growth), which we knew would happen,” she said. “We’re just looking to have good attendance and a good report, and that if they’re not already informed about Horizon West, they’ll be better educated and know what to expect.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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