National Entrepreneur Center

Not Just Anecdotal, From Stories to the Stats

In an area where collaboration seems to be one of the foundational principles, few organizations facilitate and demonstrate the power of partnership more than the National Entrepreneur Center (NEC). Founded in 2003, through the collaborative efforts of Walt Disney World, Orange County Government and The University of Central Florida, this “shared facility” and collaborative approach to small business development has attracted national attention for its financial efficiencies and the ability to leverage the resources and skills of each resident organization.

The NEC provides local entrepreneurs easy access to business assistance organizations like the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF, UCF Business Incubation Program, SCORE and a plethora of Chambers and other organizations.

Since its inception, the resident organizations have trained and counseled Central Florida businesses in record numbers, while creating nationally recognized business development programs. This innovative approach to economic development through small business, known as “Main Street Gardening,” has been instrumental in earning Central Florida recognition from Entrepreneur magazine and Biz Journals newspapers, as one of the best places in America to start or grow a small business.

Simulating Business Growth

The Edward Lowe Foundation, an organization which is “helping communities help their entrepreneurs,” recognizes five stages of growth for businesses. Within those stages, stage “2” businesses have the highest potential for economic impact and job creation, as they are moving from start-ups to established operations. In 2013, more than 220,000 businesses or 92 percent of all businesses in Central Florida were either “self-employed” businesses or in stage “1” with 0-9 employees. These businesses get the optimal benefit from what the NEC offers.

The NEC recently released the findings of its latest economic impact study, which indicated a return on investment (ROI) of $14 for every dollar invested in the NEC since 2003. Austin-based Angelou Economics conducted the study to measure the economic impact of the NEC on the local and state economies.

“We chose Angelou Economics because of their experience in the field, and their reputation for thoroughness,” said Jerry Ross, executive director of the NEC. “We can point to many success stories over our last 12 years; however, we needed help to statistically evaluate the overall economic impact to the Central Florida region and the State of Florida,” said Ross.

“Just Show Me the Facts”

“We have always known that the NEC does a great job, and now we have the statistics to prove it,” says Marianne Amato, Regions Bank executive and NEC board chair.

According to the Angelou Economics Report, the NEC’s impact to Florida since 2003 incudes:
• $187.6 million in total economic output
• $58.4 million generated in labor income
• 1,000 jobs created or sustained
• $77.3 million in revenues for Florida retailers
• $8.6 million in state and local tax revenues
“Supporting entrepreneurs through innovative training and providing access to resources is vital,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. According to the report, “The NEC has proven to be a successful model, transcending beyond Orlando and even the State of Florida. This is made evident from the fact that the NEC has hosted visitors from throughout the U.S. that have taken an interest in duplicating the NEC’s model.”

“The National Entrepreneur Center has attracted national and international attention because it works!” explains Dr. Tom O’Neal, NEC board member and associate vice president for UCF’s Office of Research and Commercialization, which acts as the fiscal agent for the NEC. “This report just confirms that the National Entrepreneur Center is where business happens in Central Florida,” remarked Dr. O’Neal.
For every $1 invested in the NEC:
• $14.05 in total economic output
• $5.96 in retail sector activity
• $4.37 in labor income
• $0.94 in federal tax revenue
• $0.62 in state and local tax revenue

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to extend their financial support for the National Entrepreneur Center’s (NEC) Central Florida International Trade Office (CFITO) by providing $65,000 toward ongoing operations. The CFITO was established in January 2014 through the partnership of Orange County Government and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. The office was commissioned to provide easy access to international trade education, provide access to
local trade data, and streamline connections to other local organizations that provide import/export services.