Women’s History Month: Local female leader keeps Central Florida economy running

ORLANDO, Fla. — In 2021, women in Florida comprised nearly 50% of the workforce but just 31% of top executive roles.


During Women’s History Month, Channel 9 will introduce women in positions of power.

Belinda Ortiz Kirkegard, the president of the National Entrepreneur Center, helps ensure local businesses stay open.

“I am the champion for the organization, which is a one-stop shop for all small business needs,” she said.

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Ortiz Kirkegard helps local entrepreneurs grow and advocates for expansion. She is the first Hispanic female president of the nonprofit, and she started over a year ago after decades of work in public administration.

She serves as a board member with AdventHealth in their Central Florida division, as a chair on the AdventHealth Giving Board, and the only woman currently on the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority board.

“There hasn’t been a woman on that airport board for over 12 years,” Ortiz-Kirkegard said.

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And she does it all while running an organization to keep the local economy running. As she was hired to create the economic development office for Kissimmee, she became acquainted with the area.

“I was the first Hispanic Director ever appointed at the city,” Ortiz Kirkegard said.

She also grew the city’s tax base by over $20 million, allowing the city to invest the funds back into services that benefit the public. It’s a legacy in Kissimmee that Ortiz Kirkegard holds dear to her heart.

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“The gentleman that succeeded me was saying, ‘like wow. I didn’t realize what a strong foundation you’ve left for me,’ and that felt good,” she said.

She brought her experience to the NEC and provided resources for the businesses considered the backbone of America.

“Over the last 25 years, one out of every three jobs created in the United States was from a small business,” she said. “80% of our economy is driven by small business.”

It’s also driven by her steps to ensure every dollar made in Central Florida stays here.

“Business doesn’t stop,” Ortiz Kirkegard said. “The evolution process doesn’t stop and neither does the NEC.”

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