May 22, 2024

Measuring the Economic Impact of Entrepreneurship in the East Central Florida Region

April 26, 2024

Measuring the Economic Impact of Entrepreneurship in the East Central Florida Region

The National Entrepreneur Center (NEC) stands as a transformative force in shaping Orlando’s entrepreneurial landscape. The NEC helps propel aspiring and established entrepreneurs towards success by offering an array of assistance services and resources vital for business formation and growth. Since its inception, the NEC’s partners have helped to empower over 300,000 entrepreneurs and facilitated over $320 million in business loans. It has also attracted attention from both national and international governments seeking to replicate this successful model. In 2023, the NEC partnered with the ECFRPC to undertake an economic valuation analysis of the region’s entrepreneurship system with the objective of quantifying the collective impact of the seven technical providers within the NEC.

In this webinar, Luis and Belinda will explain how the NEC helps foster small businesses. They will also note the regional economic impacts of the robust entrepreneurial landscape that the NEC has helped shape. These presenters will use REMI PI+ to help quantify these impacts.



Luis Nieves-Ruiz
Director of Economic Development
East Central Florida Regional Planning Council

Originally from Puerto Rico, Luis serves as Director of Economic Development for the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, a council of governments located in Orlando, FL. Through his 21+-year career, he has made significant contributions to the fields of economic development, regional food systems, and community revitalization. This includes using the REMI PI+ model to estimate the economic impact of a variety of investments and activities including tourism, sea level rise, and early learning education, among others. Because of his many career accomplishments, Luis was inducted as a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2022. That same year, he was also awarded the Professional of the Year Award by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and Prospera.

Belinda Kirkegard
National Entrepreneur Center

Belinda Ortiz Kirkegard is the President of the National Entrepreneur Center. Prior to joining the NEC team, Belinda worked the last 13 years for the City of Kissimmee as its Economic Development Director, working with a leadership team that believed in building an incredible quality of life for residents and businesses alike. Her professional experience also includes the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, Orange County’s Business Development Office, as well as having worked for a couple of Central Florida elected officials.

She is a nationally certified Economic Development Finance Professional and has a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Belinda currently serves on a few community boards, and is the Treasurer for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which oversees the Orlando International Airport, which has a $600 million annual operating budget and $3 billion for capital improvements.