Ten years ago, community giants Walt Disney World Resort, the University of Central Florida and Orange County Government partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to establish the Disney/SBA Entrepreneur Center in Orlando to provide a centralized location for entrepreneurs to receive business support.

On Tuesday, June 18th, the National Entrepreneur Center (NEC) held a special anniversary ceremony to celebrate the center’s 10th anniversary milestone.  Local dignitaries including City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, UCF President John Hitt and Walt Disney World Resort Director of Community Relations, Nancy Gidusko, shared the history of the NEC’s evolution, their organization’s role in its development and stressed their support of the NEC – the “front-door for entrepreneurship.”

President Hitt applauded the NEC and discussed the value partnerships play. “The NEC is grand testimony to the power of partnership,” said Hitt. “It was established as a driving force of creating jobs and growing a better region through economic development. Today, the NEC has become the front door of entrepreneurship in Orlando and a national model for aiding small businesses. UCF’s strong belief in the value of this center is why the UCF Small Business Center and UCF Business Incubation Program are part of this effort to provide entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed,” he added.

Gidusko commended the NEC, citing the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation. She described Walt Disney’s hardships as an entrepreneur, starting on his path toward what would evolve as the number-one tourist destination in the world.  She painted a picture of Central Florida that no one could have imagined, unless they believed in Walt’s entrepreneurial vision.

“Innovation is important. It’s what makes America the country we’ve become,” said Gidusko. “And entrepreneurialism is essential. It’s what makes Americans who we are.  And that’s what makes the National Entrepreneur Center one of the very best ideas that Central Florida, collectively, has ever had.  Because you never know… The idea you help grow tomorrow might be the one that shapes the next century.”

The NEC anniversary celebration also featured networking, free business seminars and a guided tour of the 22,000 square foot facility, which is located inside Orlando Fashion Square Mall.  For more information about the NEC, visit nationalec.org.