As one of the most culturally inclusive communities in the United States, Orange County continues to be a leader in advancing diversity through our direct hires, advisory board appointments, community outreach, sister region agreements, educational tradeshows, and seminars.
In 2013, we celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Hispanic Business and Consumer Expo with a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Orange County Convention Center. Hosted by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando, this annual event boasts more than 300 booths, over 12,000 attendees, and continues to be one of the largest Hispanic trade shows in the U.S.
Orange County staff remains committed to building and strengthening relationships with various organizations and leaders within the Hispanic community. Additionally, the Orange County Connect newsletter, translated in Spanish, is sent to hundreds of our Spanish-speaking constituents.
The Hispanic Heritage Committee of Greater Orange County, Inc. held a festive Hispanic Heritage Month Proclamation Reception in September, attended by Orange County Commissioners, constitutional officers, employees, and our citizens. The committee also coordinated the Orange Fiesta in the Park, featuring popular food trucks, musical performances, children's activities, and diverse exhibitors at Downey Park.
Celebrating our rich African American history and heritage remains a key focus. In February, we celebrated Black History Month, including the 24th Annual Zora! Festival, the inspiring Pappy Kennedy Prayer Breakfast, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Unity Parade. In July, for the first time in our history, we were honored to host the NAACP National Convention at our Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). More than 4,000 delegates participated in this legendary annual gathering, which was themed, “We Shall Not Be Moved.” In August, we were deeply proud to welcome the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPFF) to the OCCC, and in November, our Central Florida community hosted another wonderfully successful Florida Classic.
For the first time, Orange County joined in celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May 2013 with a proclamation and ceremony. In addition to Orange County’s international collaboration agreements, Mayor Jacobs signed an agreement with Vice Mayor Yuejin Zhao of China’s Taizhou City to establish our fourth sister region agreement. This agreement focuses on healthcare as Taizhou is recognized as China's Medical City. Orange County’s three other sister agreements include Las Heras region in Argentina, Quindio and the city of Medellin in Colombia, and the region of Hart van Brabant in the Netherlands.
Additionally, Orange County remains committed to supporting minority entrepreneurs through the Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF) and Hispanic Business Initiative Fund (HBIF). In 2013, the BCC allocated $135,724 to the BBIF, a Community Development Financial Institution and non-traditional lender that specializes in providing loans to black, minority, and underserved small businesses. HBIF, Florida’s leading Hispanic economic development organization, received $123,472 from the BCC.