The Orlando Regional Chamber presents AWEsome Women in Orlando, a series highlighting the region’s top women executives and innovators whose ideas and companies are changing the world right from our own backyard.

The Orlando Regional Chamber, a core component of the Orlando Economic Partnership, recognized a need in the community to unify resources into a strategically coordinated campaign to propel women forward. All Women Empowered (AWE) is comprised of private, public, and nonprofit partners working to unify our community resources into a strategically coordinated campaign to propel women forward. AWE seeks to amplify stories of women’s initiatives, programs, women in business and women entrepreneurs in the region with a goal of providing resources and programs that equip women with the tools to build the future they envision. 

Be sure to sign up for the Chamber’s weekly newsletter for timely and relevant information to help small businesses and female leaders accelerate growth. You can also find more information on All Women Empowered, including how to add your resource to the women’s business resource directory, here.

This edition features Amy Kirkland. Amy oversees the Center for Business Development at Seminole State College (SSC). Her team works with small business owners at all stages, providing resources, programs, and services that help them to start and/or grow their business. They work in partnership with the Small Business Administration and the UCF Small Business Development Center, and most of their services are provided at no cost to the business. 

The SSC Center for Business Development provides no-cost consulting, seminars and analytics research for businesses from startups to multimillion-dollar companies. The center is home to the Women’s Entrepreneur Center, providing services and programs that support and accelerate women business owners to strengthen their impact within the region. They also offer Foundations of Excellence, a no-cost business acceleration program that matches Seminole County businesses with a volunteer board of professional advisors to assist with planning for the next phase of growth. For more information, visit their website or contact Amy Kirkland directly at kirklanda@seminolestate.edu.

What makes Orlando the right place for women in business?

Orlando has many different organizations that support women in business. These groups offer training, mentorship and networking opportunities to help propel women in the community.  

Have you experienced an “only in Orlando” moment? If so, what was it?  

Back in 2000, our family was on the Nickelodeon show, Double Dare 2000, which was filmed at Universal Studios Orlando. We didn’t win the grand prize, but we walked away with some neat stuff, and made some amazing memories for our family. 

Who or what has influenced you in your career the most?

Without a doubt, my family has had the most influence on my career. Growing up, we owned a restaurant where we all started working by the age of 12. My dad set very high expectations and instilled a really strong work ethic. All seven of my siblings have successful careers, and we have always turned to each other for advice and support. Now that my kids are grown, I also reach out to them to get a different perspective.  

How would you describe your leadership style? 

As a former collegiate athlete, I am all about working together as a team. As far as my leadership style, I would say that I’m a Servant Leader, and always the biggest cheerleader for my team. 

Why is it important for you to be a member of AWE?  

Knowing what is available for women and having the platform to share the information is key for me. Serving as a member of the AWE committee allows me to stay in the loop and disseminate knowledge and opportunities to other women in the community. 

If you had to describe to an out-of-town friend what it’s like to live, work, learn and play in Orlando, what would you say?  

Living in the Orlando area is definitely a unique experience. Out-of-town friends always seem to think we go to the theme parks all the time. We don’t, but when we want to, we have the best selection in the world. Not only do we have amazing attractions, but the weather, sports, performing arts, nature, restaurants, and the people in the Orlando region are exceptional too. 

Tips for to other women in business in the region: 

  1. If you’re starting or running a business, utilize the resources in the region that are available for you. Most are at little or no cost and can really help to catapult your business success. 
  2. If you’re just getting started, look for other women either in your same industry, or a similar one and build relationships. You never know what you might be able to learn from someone else, or how you might partner in the future.
  3. Give back to the community. It is one of the most rewarding things you can do. 

Champion and Sponsor of All Women Empowered