Cowboys, rodeos and bass fishing. It wasn’t long ago that’s all folks thought of when you said, “I’m from Osceola County.” The county isn’t what it used to be — it’s better..

In fact, in a few years, the face of the county will have changed dramatically. We will still be home to the largest cow-calf operation in the country, the world-famous Silver Spurs rodeo and the best bass fishing, but as we kick off the year at the Osceola chamber, we’re excited about the possibilities and new developments that will help local businesses grow.

As a longtime Osceola resident, preserving our traditions and welcoming new ones has become a way of life.

It’s no secret that one of the most exciting announcements to come out of Osceola County in decades is the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center. This shows regionalism at its finest — with the county, some of the key economic-development organizations in our region and local universities joining together to bring a state-of-the-art manufacturing-research facility that will rival the high-tech hub found in Austin, Texas.

The research center will help Osceola attract new employers with high-paying jobs. What’s more, it will create a level of opportunity for recent graduates spanning all sorts of degrees.

We’re also excited about the continued development of the second phase of SunRail, which will have a stop near the new facility. This SunRail stop will connect us to downtown Orlando and Seminole and Volusia counties in a way unheard of just a few years ago.

Then there’s the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo that will place Osceola on a national stage in March. Rodeo is a way of life in Osceola County, and I could not imagine a more perfect location for this event. The weeklong event will bring tens of thousands of visitors to our doorstep — providing an economic boon for our area like no other single event in 2015.

On behalf of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, I applaud those dedicated to helping Osceola grow, and I congratulate all those who have made these opportunities a reality for not only Osceola but also the Central Florida region.

So keep an eye on us in Osceola. There’s more to come.

Jo Thacker is the 2015 chair of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Please click here to view the article as published by the Orlando Sentinel.