In an effort to comfort victims of violent or sensitive crimes, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has obtained a therapy dog to assist deputies and detectives during criminal investigations. Lily, a five year old female Beagle/Corgi mix, was rescued from a euthanasia shelter and enrolled in the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office’s “Paws & Stripes College.” During this 8-week course, the dogs learn basic obedience skills, and selected graduates move into the advanced training program to serve as PTSD dogs, therapy dogs and child victim advocate dogs. Lily graduated from the program’s Law Enforcement Investigative Therapy Dog Course and she was given to the MCSO at no cost. Since she came to the MCSO in May 2017, Lily has received full certification as a therapy dog and is out working in our community.
Lily’s handler is MCSO’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) Investigative Liaison, Detective Janeen Henley-Freeman. Detective Henley-Freeman and Lily will focus on adult and children DCF investigations, missing persons, sex crimes, child abductions and child exploitation internet crimes assisting the victims of these crimes. Our goal is for Lily to help victims feel more at ease while speaking about their situation(s).
The Lady Lake Police Department cannot function effectively without the assistance of concerned, responsible residents. We are depending on YOU to call and tell us whenever you see suspicious persons or activity.
Some residents fail to call the police simply because they are not aware of what seemingly innocent activities should be considered suspicious. Others may recognize suspicious activity and be hesitant to call for fear of being thought of as the neighborhood “busy-body.” Yet others simply assume that someone else has already called the police. Continue reading
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is getting to speak to different groups. Big groups or small, business people or social groups, it really does not matter. I love talking about our community and the role of the CEP. Regardless of the size of the group, the nature of the questions is often the same – “What is the new building going up . . .” and “When will get a . . .” Usually, I know the answer or at least can proffer an educated guess. In this issue, I would like to highlight some of the most frequently asked new building questions.
What are those building going up near FedEx?
If you have not taken a moment and driven down NW 35th Ave into the Ocala-Marion County Commerce Park, I would encourage you to do so. Just past the new FedEx Ground Hub one can see two large buildings under construction. The building to the east is the new AutoZone Distribution Center. This facility is covers more than 440,000 sq. ft. and will serve AutoZone stores in Florida and Puerto Rico. The facility to the north or just past FedEx is the new Chewy.com Fulfillment Center. This building will encompass 620,000 sq. ft. Combined both facilities represent nearly 1.1 MILLION sq. ft. of new space. Eventually these three companies will employ approximately 1,500 workers. Continue reading
At the CEP, things are always changing. We are looking for ways to provide an ever greater return on investment for our partners and for the community. We are excited to announce a new program to encourage entrepreneurs and two new team members who have recently join us.
1 Million Cups-Ocala
Ocala soon will be the newest home of a national program to engage, educate and connect local entrepreneurs. 1 Million Cups — based on the notion that entrepreneurs network and discover solutions over a million cups of coffee — is a free, weekly gathering that helps to build startup communities on a grassroots level.
Beginning Wednesday, September 20, 2017, entrepreneurs, innovators, funders and other interested community members are invited to attend each Wednesday from 9:30am to 10:30 a.m. at the CEP’s Power Plant Business Incubator – 2nd Floor, located at 405 SE Osceola Ave. Ocala. Continue reading
We are #1 (or at least a finalist)! I am very excited to share that the Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) has been named a finalist for the 2017 Chamber of the Year award, presented by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. The CEP along with the other three finalists for the award will be celebrated at a special event on Tuesday, July 18, in Nashville, Tenn., with the winner to be announced that evening.
This is an incredible testament to the success of our partners and leadership in implementing their vision with our Moving Forward campaign. We are excited for this recognition and to shine a light on the great work being done in this community.
Chamber of the Year is the nation’s only award recognizing the leadership role chambers have in their communities. Those honored with the Chamber of the Year designation have demonstrated organizational strength and made an impact on key community priorities, such as education, transportation, business development and quality of life.
Chambers of commerce interested in competing for the award must first qualify by participating in a vigorous, multi-stage process. Organizations entering the Chamber of the Year competition must meet minimum thresholds in at least three of five key performance areas, including net revenue, net assets, membership account retention, and membership dollar retention. Continue reading
One of the two primary goals of the CEP is to create and retain jobs in our community. Four of our five core areas are organized around this goal. You will often see our five-year goal of impacting the announced creation of 4500 new jobs if you attend a CEP event or browse our website. However, job creation is more than just the projects that we directly impact. In fact, if we are doing our jobs then the community should see greater economic impact and job creation.
One way many people track the status of the job market is through the unemployment rate. While there are some real challenges with this approach, it does provide a good barometer of what is happening in our community. Using the latest numbers available (March 2017), the current unemployment rate in the Ocala MSA (Marion County) is 5.1 percent. This is a tremendous improvement from just a few years ago when it surpassed 14 percent. Additionally, when you look at the three-county workforce the numbers remain very positive. Marion County is the center of a regional workforce shed so these numbers are important. The unemployment in this region was 5.2 percent with nearly 5,900 more people employed than a year ago. Continue reading
There are so many incredible things happening in our community. The coming months will see the announcement of new primary employers and major expansions by existing primary employers. The Power Plant Business Incubator continues to help innovative and scalable startups primarily in the areas of technology, health care, and communications. The downtown area continues to generate enthusiasm with the new midtown plan, an ever-growing line up of restaurants and stores, and the long awaited hotel project set to break ground by the end of summer. All of this excitement and growth is in large part the result of our partners. Thank you for your engagement and investment in moving Ocala and Marion County forward.
Leadership Ocala Marion
Spring brings warmer weather, high school proms and graduations, and the beginning of planning for the CEP’s amazing leadership programs. For 30 years, Leadership Ocala Marion (LOM) has been training and providing opportunities to train new generations of leaders on the needs of this community and how they can engage. Continue reading
Last month, I outlined the successes of the CEP’s inaugural five-year plan, Moving Forward. In fact, this plan was reached a full year early. This month’s column will be focused on outlining the recently adopted Moving Forward-Phase II plan which seeks to continue to grow and diversify the local economy.
Moving Forward – Phase II
Just like its predecessor, this plan did not just happen. It is the result of months of discussion and research by the CEP staff and Board of Directors. Once again, the Board asked economist Dr. Sharon Younger to assist them in the creation of this plan. She provided an incredible layer of analysis and detail to assist the Board including a significant amount of data on how the Ocala MSA and the CEP compare to our ten benchmark communities. Continue reading
The biggest event hosted by the CEP each year is our Annual Luncheon. Each of the last four years, this has been a Sold Out event and the 2017 edition was no different. In fact, this year’s event filled up before Christmas – a full six weeks before the event! For the 600 attendees we are grateful and hope you left excited about our community and the CEP. For the many, many more who were not able to attend, I am excited to share with you a few highlights of this event. Continue reading