Ocala has many small town qualities but offers urban amenities with great shopping, good restaurants, nice hotels and family friendly park attractions. Ocala is the seasonal home of Celebrity John Travolta. This is a beautiful picturesque town with lots of land between homes, unless it's 55+ community. There are many affordable HOA community developments in and around Ocala such as Oak Run, Pine Run and Top of the World. Ocala is twenty minutes from the Villages; it's about 2 hours away from Orlando and about 90 minutes from Tampa.
In my opinion, as a resident of Ocala, the city has so much to offer, but has not really promoted itself to other states in the US and outside the country. I am not a business consultant, but as a resident living along the HWY 200 corridor. I have seen many businesses come and go within months of opening. There are many vacant storefronts in the Steeplechase Plaza and in the Friendship Center store sites. These properties have been vacant over two years.
In my opinion I think that the local residents should develop ideas and send them to their local city boards or the Chamber of Commerce. I have a few ideas on how jobs could be created in this area by the hotels in the Ocala area creating and offering eco-tourism packages and historic district tours that include shopping, transportation from large area airports, and local attractions in Ocala area. This could help local economy greatly by getting more tourists to visit Ocala and other Marion county towns.
Small local businesses in Ocala should have a web presence online to generate sales outside of Ocala. There are many hosting websites that offer free and inexpensive websites for small businesses such as www.webs.com, and www.ecrater.com.
Start a blog to write about your products and news about your local business on www.blogspot.com or www.wordpress.com .
Social media is a great way to get free promotional advertising by tweeting latest deals.
Ocala has a large senior community and is a great market for businesses that offer services and products for seniors.
Keep jobs in Ocala by shopping at your small local business.
Walmart offers many items at one store location. Small local businesses offer more inventory of a specific item or may offer customer service features.
Small business owners that are located near Walmart will find it difficult to get customers when the product that they sell is priced much lower at the superstore. Mom and pop shops have to offer low priced products along with excellent customer service to compete with Walmart.