National Entrepreneur Center Announces New President Belinda Kirkegard

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The National Entrepreneur Center (NEC) is pleased to announce Belinda Ortiz Kirkegard as its President. Joining the organization from her previous role as Economic Development Director for the City of Kissimmee, Kirkegard brings over 25 years of public and private sector experience to her new role.

Responsible for attracting millions of private sector investment to Kissimmee over her 13-year tenure, she says, “I’ve been a champion for small business for most of my professional career so I’m excited to bring my passion and experience in public and private sector roles to this remarkable small business support organization. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and I look forward to growing and expanding the great work that occurs here at the National Entrepreneur Center!” Kirkegard succeeds Jerry Ross, who retired in December of 2022, after 16 years of service as President.

Kirkegard is a nationally certified Economic Development Finance Professional and has a Master’s degree in Public Administration. In 2021, she was appointed by Florida Governor DeSantis to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, which oversees the Orlando International and Orlando Executive Airports. She is a longtime Central Florida resident, and is married with two children.

About The National Entrepreneur Center
Founded in 2003, through the collaborative efforts of Walt Disney World, Orange County Government and The University of Central Florida, this “shared facility” and collaborative approach to small business development has attracted national attention for its financial efficiencies and the ability to leverage the resources and skills of each resident organization. Additionally, the center provides easy access to these business assistance organizations for local entrepreneurs. Since inception, the resident organizations have trained and counseled Central Florida businesses in record numbers, while creating nationally recognized business development programs. This innovative approach to economic development through small business, known as “Main Street Gardening,” has been instrumental in earning Central Florida recognition from Entrepreneur Magazine, Wallet Hub and Biz Journals as being the #1 place in America to start or grow a small business. The NEC is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. For more information, please visit

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Lisa Busto