Erika Spence: Business in the Park

Erika Spence

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How to measure a year

There are many ways to measure a year. In the business world we have balance sheets and profit and loss reports. It’s not always about dollars and cents though. More times than not it is the little things that define a year, like the conversations and ideas hatched over cups of coffee at Palmano’s, watching new businesses take shape (literally in East End Market’s case), or collaborating with new friends on projects like this fall’s Feed the Need campaign.

A few shameless plugs

So how does the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce measure the year? For starters, we added 169 new members in 2013, 24 of them as part of the Park Avenue Merchants Association, a sign that our downtown is indeed a vibrant place to be. Some of these new businesses have quickly become part of the fabric of our community, including The Alfond Inn. Park Avenue also reached an important milestone as it announced 100-percent occupancy for the first time in 25 years.

Another way the Chamber measures the year is events and programs. Our members, as well as residents and visitors alike, came out in force to support annual traditions like the Taste of Winter Park, Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, Harriett’s Park Avenue Fashion Week and the recent Ye Olde Hometown Christmas Parade, among others. We also launched an Education Update Breakfast in partnership with the city of Winter Park and a new Small Business Education Series aimed at providing small business owners with training and resources they can implement in their businesses. Both were received to rave reviews and will continue in the New Year.

I could fill a book with stats from 2013. The number of fans on the Chamber’s Facebook page reached 1,382 and our Twitter following (@WPChamberFL) grew to 1,399 as of press deadline (a shameless plug for our social media channels that offer news from the Chamber, its members and general business tips). The number of ribbon cuttings held at new businesses in 2013: 56 – that’s 20 more than last year! You can see their smiling faces at facebook.com/winterparkchamber

One last shameless plug

I think it’s worth mentioning one last time that the Chamber, the Park Avenue merchants and the Observer are asking for your help in determining the “best of” Winter Park. That’s right, here’s your chance to vote for your favorite local businesses, including best coffee shop, best fitness studio, best kept secret, and others. Voting runs through Jan. 5, and the winners will be announced at Business After Hours on Jan. 16.

Erika Spence is the senior director of marketing and communications at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.