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BizLinkOrange.com Launches to Help Grow Small Business in Central Florida Plus Interview with Jerry Ross, National Entrepreneur Center

Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings is partnering up with Bizlink Orange®  –  a new one-stop Website That Helps Grow Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners in Central Florida

In partnership with Central Florida’s National Entrepreneur Center, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings says he is committed to growing small businesses in Central Florida through a new website.

BizLink Orange®, an innovative online platform to seamlessly connect Central Florida entrepreneurs and small business owners to business assistance organizations in over 50 different languages.

“Orange County is home to some of the most innovative and hard-working business owners in the world,” said Demings. “Orange County Government was a founding sponsor of the National Entrepreneur Center and this new tool provides the next step for connecting business owners throughout Central Florida to the resources that will support their growth. This initiative benefits our entire region.”

The service is free and includes access to business coaches, research materials, a regional business event calendar, and a variety of business-building services across the six-county region of Central Florida.

BizLink Orange® utilizes the proprietary SourceLink® software, which is already in use in many communities throughout the United States.

The National Entrepreneur Center manages BizLink Orange® which has already attracted more than 60+ participating organizations.

“Entrepreneurs have different needs at different times,” said Jerry Ross, President of the National Entrepreneur Center. “Our community has been at the forefront of building dynamic resources to support our business community at every stage of growth. BizLink Orange® expands our existing collaborative model exponentially, while providing quick and easy access to business services.”

BizLink Orange® is funded by Orange County Government and managed by the National Entrepreneur Center. The online platform is free to the public to access and free for non-profit resource partners to join. For more information, visit www.BizLinkOrange.com or call 3-1-1.

Interview with Jerry Ross, President of National Entrepreneur Center

Tasty Chomps: Tell us about the new BizLink platform – what are some of your favorite features on this new site?

Mr. Jerry Ross: The Resource Navigator, the Business Event Calendar and the Personal Action Plan features are all pretty amazing. Anyone can access BizLink Orange.com from anywhere at any time to download a help checklist for a variety of business topics, or use the Resource Navigator to navigate over 60 business assistance organizations to find the ones who can specifically respond to your needs. The 6 county event calendar enables clients to locate training or networking events anywhere in Central Florida, or a visitor to the website can request a “personal action plan” and withing 48 hours, they will receive connections to local assistance to help them start or grow their business!

How has the job market changed since the pandemic? Have you noticed more entrepreneurs?

The pandemic forced many people to work from home and as many businesses closed, I believe that entrepreneurship became a more inviting prospect to many who were laid off. Additionally, I think as people realized that a lot of work CAN be done from home, they began to explore the entrepreneurial options that could provide some additional income, or allow these home based workers to pursue providing services remotely in a way that would have been unthinkable prior to 2020.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – what do you think makes Orange County / Central Florida attractive to AAPI entrepreneurs?

Wallet Hub has just named Orlando/ Central Florida as a top city for starting and growing a small business! The National Entrepreneur Center is now in its 20th year of operation and is home to the Asian American Chamber of Commerce along with Chambers that serve the Hispanic community, the African American Community and the LGBTQ Community as well. Our region is well known for collaboration, so many international entrepreneurs feel very welcome here and with 70 million visitors to the region each year, there is a demand for a variety of products and services. By the way, The City of Orlando is hosting an AAPI event on 5/18 https://asianamericanchambercfl.org/events/#!event/2022/5/7/celebrating-asian-pacific-american-heritage-with-orlando-mayor and the Orlando Magic are hosting an event for Asian American Chamber members on Friday 5/27. https://asianamericanchambercfl.org/events/#!event/2022/5/27/aacc-orlando-magic-reception

What are some of your favorite tips for someone just starting out on their own setting up a new business/idea?

  • Don’t try to do it alone! Connect with a coach at the national Entrepreneur Center! www.nationalec.org
  • Check out BizLinkOrange for all kinds of ideas, download the “help” guides and request a Personal Action Plan! www.bizlinkorange.com
  • Talk to other entrepreneurs!

What are some of your favorite books of all time that has helped you or others become successful in both business and life?

  • The E-Myth – Michael Gerber
  • The Rainforest – Victor Hwang
  • Where the Jobs Are – John Dearie
  • The Magic of Thinking Big – David Schwartz
  • Business Shorts – Jerry Ross – LOL!

What is Orange County’s role in this partnership for Biz Link?

Orange County has invested in the National Entrepreneur Center for over 20 years! I looked at the software that produced BizLink Orange over 10 years ago and did not have the funding to move forward. Orange County made the NEC AND BizLinkOrange happen! There is no question that without the full support of Orange County Government, neither the NEC or BizLinkOrange would not be here today!

How can traditional corporations help foster a sense of entrepreneurship among their employees?

Today that is absolutely necessary to compete in the new (post-covid) economy. Every business MUST think entrepreneurially or they will not be able to compete. Just look at Blockbuster vs. Netflix, or Kodak vs. the iPhone and digital photography. How do you foster that in employees? – remove the fear of failure and allow creativity to be tested and valued as a company asset.

What are some trends you foresee in entrepreneurship over the coming years? How can Orange County better prepare its citizens at an earlier age to be ready for this?

Lots… of ideas on this one…. Hard to answer in writing with limited time….

I would say that as a region we need to think bigger and pay more attention to the thousands of small businesses that keep the foundations of our regional economy strong… they may not get the big headlines or be flashy for the news headlines, but when thousands of small businesses add just 1 job…. It had huge impact on those employees, their families and the region as a whole.

What are some advice you would give someone who is interested in starting a new food concept?

Attend our food expo in September being planned for the I-drive area. We conducted outreach events last year entitled “The Business of Food” which was very well received. Everything from cottage law and catering to restaurants and food trucks. When we raised additional funding we will most likely repeat those events in the future. In the meantime – connect with a coach at SCORE! They have several coaches who are very experienced in the food/restaurant industry and the best part …. Its FREE!

About Orange County Government: Orange County Government strives to serve its residents and guests with integrity, honesty, fairness and professionalism. Located in Central Florida, Orange County includes 13 municipalities and is home to world-famous theme parks, one of the nation’s largest convention centers and a thriving life science research park. Seven elected members make up the Board of County Commissioners, including the Mayor, who is elected countywide. For more information, please visit www.OCFL.net or go to Orange County Government’s social media channels.

About the National Entrepreneur Center: The National Entrepreneur Center is a public-private partnership funded by the Central Florida Community. Founded in 2003, the center provides a shared facility that is home to over a dozen entrepreneur support organizations dedicated to the development, growth, and success of small businesses. The resident Resource Partners of the National Entrepreneur Center coach and train thousands of small businesses each year. For further information visit www.nationalec.org

About SourceLink® SourceLink provides research and development assistance to help communities strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystems. As the nation’s premier online resource for powering entrepreneurs, SourceLink has successfully engaged with more than 100 communities, and connected over 4,700 resource providers nationwide. Affiliated networks include Baltimore SourceLink, Colmena66 in Puerto Rico, IASourceLink in Iowa, KCSourceLink in Kansas City and more.

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