By Dan Harkins
At the new One-Stop Employment Center, wedged between the recently vacated Marketplace Cinema and the recently vacated Kmart in Orange City Marketplace, Maria Otero waits patiently for her peek at the list of companies who might want to give someone with little experience a chance to shine.
The 22-year-old Deltona resident said the only job she's ever had, a five-year stint at the local Bravo Super Market, just ended with nothing but a thank you for your time.
She's hoping there's more truth than rumor to recent talk about how city leaders are jostling for position to bring 500 new jobs to Deltona.
"It sounds like it could be something," Ms. Otero said. "I've only had one job, so it's hard. But I want to make more than I've been making. That's what I'm looking for."
She's not alone. According to the most recent unemployment data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the second quarter ending in July 2012, Deltona's unemployment rate was 9.4 percent, lagging just behind the state average of 8.8 percent for the same period.
So many would likely be eager to hear that the talk is real, confirmed Jerry Mayes, the city's economic development administrator. Deltona, he said, is "in the running" to woo a "professional services" firm that promises to create as many as 500 jobs. The professional services industry spans from customer service representatives to telemarketers.
No further information could be offered, Mr. Mayes said, adding, "Senator, I have no recollection."
"It comes down to the fact that if they want incentives, we have to offer incentives," he said, "because other cities are offering incentives. That means we'll have to match the other cities."
Beyond that, Mr. Mayes said, Deltona's advantage is in its diversity.
"We have a large bilingual population," he said, "which they've said they're looking for."
City leaders have tentatively set aside at least $2 million for economic development for the coming year, said Vice Mayor Paul Treusch.
He can't think of a better way to spend some of it than on adding that many people to the rolls of the employed in West Volusia. And he'd like to see the company locate somewhere in one of the city's long-flagging commercial districts.
"I think we have a good chance," Vice Mayor Treusch said. "And if not this time, then next time for sure, and it's because of Team Volusia and the climate it's creating."
Team Volusia, which contracts with cities to lure potential businesses, introduced Deltona to the company this summer, he said.
It was around that time that city leaders pushed around the idea of leaving some county organizations like Team Volusia and the Volusia Council on Governments. It decided to stop paying $30,000 a year to VCOG and to continue on with Team Volusia.
"Good decision," Vice Mayor Treusch said.