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orange central

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Merchants and business owners along Highway 192 in Osceola County have finally decided to get their act together. Prior to the latest economic meltdown, I wrote about signs of life in Central Florida’s most neglected tourist region. As you might guess, those improvements have been given back and the trend points even more down hill these days.

However the newly formed 192 Business Alliance has a plan to turn that around. The region will adopt a theme of…

“Orange Central” by painting the curbs or sidewalks orange. The theme would continue with a new public-transportation option consisting of two orange-colored shuttle buses. A new Web site would promote the area, and businesses would support the initiative with things like orange mints in their lobbies.

The 192 Business Alliance, the newly formed nonprofit group that drew up the plan, said something must be done, and quickly, to revive the sagging tourist strip west of Kissimmee. “We could have shuttle service here by spring break,” Brisson said. “We need something easy. We need something fast.”

It’s a good start, perhaps mints in the lobby is all that can be afforded in these times, but there are a few cracks in the plan.

Included in the strategy is a plan to build a sports complex focused on drawing amateur competition to the area. I’m a little skeptical of this idea. Have they not heard of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports? Disney is bound to take the lion share of the amateur sports business. That is ESPN WWOS’ whole focus and they can offer the ESPN brand and Disney magic, something Kissimmee can never match.

Perhaps the 192 Business Alliance is thinking that they would attract sports teams who would travel to central Florida and not compete on Disney property, but still package a vacation with their tournament by offering them a cheaper price for the same quality facilities, just without the ESPN experience. That could work, but I don’t see it as being a big driver, if it was, existing regional amateur sports facilities would be full already. Maybe they have a study that says differently.

Moving in on sports instead of convention business is an interesting angle, however think they need to be more ambitious. The name “Orange Central” is neither catchy, nor descriptive. Nobody is going to say, “let’s go down to Orange Central and see what’s going on.” But they’re on the right track, 192 does need better branding.

Follow me below the jump for a few more suggestions for the 192 Business Alliance and the Osceola County government to get moving on.