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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 4 weeks ago

Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and Rollins College welcome international families to Winter Park

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The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce hosted a breakfast for international families with children attending Rollins College.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

Sending a child off to college can be a major transition, but what about sending a child off to college in another country?

That’s the case for families who attended the Rollins College International Family Breakfast hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Families from other countries with children attending Rollins College came together to network with college staff, connect with chamber resources and hear from immigration attorney Carlos Colombo.

Chamber President and CEO Betsy Gardner Eckbert said the event serves as a way to introduce families to the community and make them feel at home.

“Extending a warm welcome is one of the most fundamental things that a chamber can do — making sure that people know that we want them in our community,” Gardner Eckbert said. “Sending your child to another country is a really big deal, and we want to make sure we’re meeting them where they are in a very difficult part of their family’s journey to relocate their child to another country — especially one that, at the moment, doesn’t have the most warm welcome for international guests. We want to go above and beyond and say, ‘Whatever is going on in Washington has nothing to do with the way we welcome people in Winter Park.’”

Families at the event were connected with concierges on staff at the chamber, who can direct them to whatever types of services or local businesses they might need, from hairstylists to veterinarians to coffee shops.

Immigration attorney and guest speaker Carlos Colombo also discussed the state of immigration in the country and the various options immigrants have to obtain visas.

Carlos Pacheco, of the Dominican Republic, knew sending his son Jean Carlos Pacheco to Rollins would be a tough transition for the whole family. 

The Winter Park area was a clear favorite when the Pacheco family visited schools where Jean Carlos could study international business, Carlos Pacheco said.

“The area is beautiful — I believe it’s the right way to develop a city,” Carlos Pacheco said. “It’s under control, that was our first impression. … What (Jean Carlos) liked the most about (Rollins College) was the exclusivity. This is no small college; that is what impressed him the most.”

Gardner Eckbert said the chamber hopes to get international families to plant roots in the area and start businesses nearby. Look no further than Park Avenue to see the impact of business owners coming from around the globe, she said. About 10 businesses in downtown Winter Park hold EB-5 visas.

“We know that international families have an opportunity to impact our economy in a special and unique way, and we know that talking to them about relocating a business here can have an even more unique impact and powerful impact on our community,” Gardner Eckbert said. “We want to build a global network of people who may be interested in relocating businesses here, and also, we want to support the families as they transition to having a piece of their family resident in Winter Park. We’re here to help.”

For more information about the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce’s concierge services, visit winterpark.org or call (407) 644-8281.

Tim Freed is an Associate Editor with the Winter Park/Maitland Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.

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