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The Orlando Sentinel

Osceola May Snag Puerto Rican Publisher

by APRIL HUNT, Staff Writer

July 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Osceola County is the unlikely front-runner over New York City for a Puerto Rican book publisher's first stateside office.

Despite the Big Apple's reputation as a melting pot and media center, officers and owners of Editorial Cultural said Friday during a meeting in Celebration that they prefer Osceola's ethnic mix and small-town feel.

"A country as well as a county is only as great as the people who direct them and educate them," company President Paco Vazquez said. "We have found that greatness here."

A third of Osceola's population is Hispanic, most of it from Puerto Rico.

The county's economic-development department, faced with the task of creating non-tourism jobs, has highlighted that ethnic mix during several trade missions to the island and business exchanges throughout the Hispanic community.

The county has been wooing Editorial Cultural since representatives came to Osceola in January as part of one such business exchange. Economic-development Director Maria Grulich said the company seemed a natural fit.

"It was an opportunity for both of us," Grulich said.

Vazquez's father founded the business more than 60 years ago in San Juan. It carries more than 200 titles of poetry, novels and textbooks, all in Spanish.

The firm recently signed with Sam's Club in Puerto Rico for distribution and is working on similar deals in Florida with Borders and other large booksellers, company spokeswoman Miriam Martinez said.

Among its plans is a line of books featuring a character based on Vazquez's granddaughter, Yami. The books will feature vocabulary in both English and Spanish and, while designed for children, could serve as primers for adults trying to learn a second language.

To meet demand, the company expects to open a warehouse and office in the next year. Although it is unclear how many jobs will be created, plans call for the site to be both a distribution center and a business office.

Grulich is helping the firm apply for state incentives designed to lure targeted businesses to Florida. The company most likely would locate in Poinciana Industrial Park.

"I think it's good for the diverse culture we have here and the diverse economy we want to create," County Commissioner Paul Owen said.

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