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Expanding Jobs Base
and Capital Investments

While the County’s travel and tourism sectors provide a variety of opportunities in the hospitality industry, our robust Modeling, Simulation, and Training cluster, the Lake Nona Medical City, and our life sciences hub continue to have a profound impact on capital investment and the creation of high-value jobs in Central Florida. Additionally, more than $2 billion in construction projects have been completed at Medical City since 2006. According to the University of Central Florida, its College of Medicine and surrounding life sciences cluster could create an additional 30,000 jobs and $7.6 billion in annual economic activity.

Since Mayor Jacobs' election in November 2010, Orange County's unemployment rate has fallen from 11.3 percent to 5.4 percent in December 2013 – the lowest since June 2008. From December 2012 to December 2013 there were 16,715 jobs created. In the past year, overall construction permitting activity increased by 18 percent, mostly in residential permits.

Also in the past year, the county’s estimated taxable property increased 4.1 percent – from $81.1 billion in 2012 to $84.4 billion in 2013. And, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, the median home price in Orange County in November 2013 stood at $155,000, a 21.14 percent increase over the $127,950 median price during the previous year.

Modeling, Simulation and
Training Blue Ribbon

In the midst of Central Florida's continuing economic recovery, a critical area of vulnerability exists. Our highly valued Modeling, Simulation and Training (MS&T) cluster is challenged with a significant risk of possible sequestration reductions and could face future rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) cuts, affecting our military commands and this valuable sector. The MS&T industry contributes more than $4.8 billion to Florida's gross state product and directly employs more than 27,000 Floridians, with an average salary of almost $70,000 annually. Protecting, nourishing, and growing this capital-intensive and innovation-driven sector is vital for all future generations of Floridians.

Mayor Jacobs responded to the looming threats posed by federal budget cuts and potential defense in 2013 by convening the MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission, a coalition of community leaders and industry stakeholders who have accepted leadership roles as advocates for this high-value and high-wage economic sector in Florida. The Blue Ribbon Commission held its inaugural meeting in June 2013.

The purpose of the Blue Ribbon Commission is to help our defense partners tell our MS&T story, educate key audiences about the reach, breadth, and diversity of this key economic driver and to bring awareness regarding the highly synergistic nature of MS&T to other key sectors of our economy, including medical, gaming, education, aviation/aerospace, animation/theme park, emergency management and public safety.

Members of the Commission come from the broader seven-county region, including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Polk, Brevard, and Volusia counties. The Commission aligns the County’s approach to be in sync with local military command leaders and serves as a resource for industry leaders in telling the story of the science-driven, innovation-based MS&T economy. Mobilizing this group has created an unprecedented collaboration and partnership between industry, academia, military and defense contractors, and smart government, with the shared goal of protecting this high-tech industry from sequestration and future BRAC recommendations.

Venues and Tourism
Promotion Package

One of the most important accomplishments of 2013 was Orange County’s approval of our $94.5 million venues package. Funded by Tourist Development Taxes, the venues package marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter of creativity, arts-driven economic development, and innovation for Central Florida's children, families, and arts community.

These funds are allocated for five major projects, including: construction of a new multi-use, soccer-centric stadium for the Orlando Lions, our new Major League Soccer team; improvements at the Orange County Convention Center; support for Visit Orlando and Visit Orlando’s Sports Promotion initiatives; completion of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts; and renovating the Florida Citrus Bowl. Already, we are seeing a return on this investment! As announced on December 11, 2013, Central Florida won the right to host seven NCAA Championships from 2016 to 2018, to be held at the new Orlando City Soccer Stadium, December 2-4, 2016 and December 1-3, 2017. We look forward to many similar announcements in the future and to welcoming both residents and visitors to some of the best sports and performing arts venues in the world.

Branding Initiative

As part of the County’s overall commitment to a diversified and sustainable economy, Mayor Jacobs hosted individual economic development and branding summits in 2013. Each summit focused on the region’s ever-improving economic outlook, with a strategic emphasis on telling the “big picture” story of Orange County to the world. The overall goal of this effort is to show that Central Florida is not just a great place to visit – it is also a phenomenal place to do business. The branding initiative, which launches in early 2014, will market Central Florida, expand our economy, grow our businesses and industries, and create new jobs.

County Establishes
International Trade Office

In November 2013, Orange County Government, JP Morgan Chase, and the National Entrepreneur Center (NEC) announced the new Central Florida International Trade Office (CFITO), which provides a central point for connecting the global trading community to local companies and supports small businesses who wish to export through partnerships and resources. This one-year pilot program was made possible by a $65,000 contribution from Orange County and a dollar-per-dollar matching grant from JP Morgan Chase.

The creation of CFITO will enable Orange County companies to tap into key trading markets and expand their export endeavors by improving the efficiency of routing and directing inquiries by potential international trading partners. CFITO will also streamline the process for foreign investors to connect with a local partner who can best assist them in establishing operations in our region.

As of August 2013, Florida’s total merchandise trade exceeded $105 billion, with $3.9 billion originating from the Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford region.

In June 2013, Mayor Jacobs joined members of the small business community, regional leaders, and elected officials to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Entrepreneur Center. Headquartered at Orlando Fashion Square, the center was founded in 2003 in collaboration with Orange County Government, Walt Disney World, and the University of Central Florida. These three entities also constitute the NEC’s founding sponsors and, as such, Orange County contributes $220,000 per year for the center’s standard operations. Additional funding for the center is provided by nine key sponsors, including City of Orlando; Regions Bank; Orlando Magic; Bank First; OUC-The Reliable One; Wells Fargo; Florida High Tech Corridor; Florida Blue; and Popular Community Bank.

The NEC provides one-on-one business coaching and hosts numerous business seminars and networking events, all free of cost to entrepreneurs. Their goal is to equip the entrepreneur with all the tools and resources needed for success in their business venture. Since its inception, NEC has directly coached and trained more than 100,000 small businesses. In 2013 alone, the center assisted more than 12,000 small businesses in their endeavors.

NCAA Division I Men's
Basketball Championship

In October, Mayor Jacobs joined the Local Organizing Committee at the Amway Center for the NCAA 2014 Basketball Championship announcement! One of the premier events in college sports, the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship will attract thousands of fans from across the United States to our community, generating more than 14,000 room nights and nearly $10 million of economic impact for the region. The national and international exposure created by the media and live telecast will be immeasurable for Orlando and Orange County.

Tournament games will be hosted locally by Stetson University, the Central Florida Sports Commission, and Orlando Venues, in partnership with the City of Orlando and Orange County. This is the first time in a decade that Orlando will play host to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. The championship was previously hosted in Orlando, with Stetson University serving as host in 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2004 at the Amway Arena.

WWE Performance Center
Opens in Orange County

In a nod to Central Florida’s role as a worldwide leader in entertainment development and production, the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) selected Orlando as the site for its new high-tech Performance and Training Center! Unveiled in June of 2013, the new facility was officially opened for business at a “live-action” press conference hosted by Paul “Triple H®” Levesque, Executive Vice President, Talent and Live Events-WWE; Florida Governor Rick Scott; Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs; and Ken Goldstone, Chief Operating Officer, Full Sail University.

With 26,000 square-feet, seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program, and cutting-edge editing and production facilities, this new state-of-the-art Performance and Training Center will give WWE the ability to train more potential performers than ever before through a comprehensive program, including in-ring training, physical preparedness, and character development. The new center also adds to Central Florida’s reputation as a premier location for entertainment production. Congratulations, WWE. We are so proud you chose to call us your home!