Orange County Government, Florida

EXPANDING JOBS BASE AND
CAPITAL INVESTMENTS

Orange County’s strong economy continued on a path of prosperity in 2015, with property values rising and unemployment plummeting in the region. Since November 2010, Orange County's unemployment rate has fallen from 11.3 percent to 4.5 percent in October 2015 — a figure that represents an increase of more than 110,853 jobs from January 2011 to October 2015.

Also in the past year, the County's estimated taxable property increased 11.7 percent — from $90.4 billion in 2014 to $100.9 billion in 2015. And, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, the median home price in Orange County in October 2015 stood at $195,030, a 21.1 percent increase over the $161,000 median price during the previous year."

62 MILLION VISITORS SETS
TOURISM RECORDS

Orange County set a new all-time record for the U.S. travel industry when more than 62 million people visited the region in 2014. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel announced the historic milestone in New York City in April, solidifying Orlando's position as the most-visited destination in the nation. Visitation to the region grew 5 percent from 2013 as visitors from around the world came to experience all that is new in ever-expanding destination amenities. A record 32 million room nights were sold in Orlando in 2014, resulting in Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections topping $200 million for the first time in Orange County.

To meet the needs of a growing number of visitors, Orange County has made investments in infrastructure, including an important expansion and renovation of the nationally recognized Orange County Convention Center, the second largest convention center in the country. Together with our many industry partners, including Visit Orlando, the I-Drive Chamber, Central Florida’s Hotel and Lodging Association (CFHLA), the I-Drive Visioning Steering Committee, our amusement and theme park industry leaders, and numerous other dining and hospitality entities, we are nurturing and protecting this key economic sector.

In addition to dazzling visitors, Central Florida's robust travel and hospitality industry adds enormously to the quality of life for Orange County citizens. Thanks to TDT revenues generated by visitor spending and the County’s tourism partners, the Orlando Citrus Bowl stadium was renovated and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and the renowned Amway Center were built.

Orlando International Airport also posted a record year for international travel in 2014 with international traffic hitting a record high of 4,324,175 passengers, an increase of 9.6 percent over the previous year.

PLASTICS CONVENTION PROVIDES $129.6 MILLION IMPACT

More than 65,800 delegates from around the world attended the plastics industry's largest global convention in March at the Orange County Convention Center. With an economic impact of $129.6 million, NPE2015: The International Plastics Showcase brought thousands of professionals from 120 countries to Central Florida to preview the latest in plastics technology, innovation and equipment during the triennial week-long event.

Mayor Jacobs addressed the delegates at the opening of the Showcase, produced by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. The event draws recyclers, manufacturing technology experts and international and U.S. executives who make major manufacturing purchasing decisions that impact the world's economy.

Long held in Chicago, the show relocated to Orlando in 2012. Its 2,000 exhibitors displayed 400 operating machines on 2.1 million square feet of space, which encompassed the entire Convention Center. The show freight totaled more than 20 million pounds, the equivalent of almost 20 maximum take-off weight capacity 747 airplanes.

ORANGE COUNTY CONVENTION
CENTER TOP MEETING
DESTINATION IN AMERICA

Also in 2015, the Orange County Convention Center was ranked the top meeting destination in the United States by the McLean, Va.-based Cvent Inc., an established trade publication for conventioneers. The report evaluated more than 5,000 U.S. cities.

BOND RATING EXCELLENCE
REFLECTS SUPERIOR FISCAL
MANAGEMENT AND RELIABILITY

The nation’s big three credit agencies — Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s Financial Services — elevated Orange County’s credit ratings to historic levels in June 2015, an extraordinary reflection of our resilient, prosperous and flourishing economy.

FORBES & CNN MONEY FOCUS
ON ORANGE COUNTY

Forbes ranked Orange County’s City of Orlando one of the 10 Best Cities for Future Job Growth and No. 4 on a list of The 10 Happiest Cities to Work In. CNN Money and Business 2.0 Magazine also named the Orlando metropolitan area No. 1 in the region in America for job growth.

CENTRAL FLORIDA’S VIDEO DESIGN
SCHOOL LANDS TOP RANKINGS
BY THE PRINCETON REVIEW

The Princeton Review released its annual look at the top schools in the world for video game design in March and ranked The University of Central Florida's Interactive Entertainment Academy No. 2 in the nation –for the second year in a row – for its video game design. Full Sail ranked No. 18 for graduate schools and No. 24 for undergraduate schools.

DR. PHILLIPS CENTER MAKES LIST OF TOP NEW TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

The spectacular Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts joined a world showcase in April when it made Travel + Leisure Magazine’s 2015 list of “25 New Tourist Attractions Worth Adding to Your Bucket List.” The magazine described the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando as “gleaming cultural spaces descending upon cities not previously known for their arts scenes.”

ORANGE COUNTY NAMED
52 PLACES TO GO IN THE WORLD
BY NEW YORK TIMES

The New York Times named Orlando No. 13 of 52 places to go across the world in 2015 in a January article. The Times article highlighted the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the commuter rail system SunRail, and the developing food scene.

BRANDING INITIATIVE TEAM
VISITS NEW YORK CITY

In March, Mayor Jacobs and a delegation of brand ambassadors and community leaders traveled to New York City to highlight the new regional branding campaign: “Orlando. You don’t know the half of it.” The group, which was led by the Metro Orlando EDC and business leaders, met with chief executives, meeting-site selectors and high-profile media.

The initiative boosted awareness of Central Florida’s businesses and innovation assets among targeted industry leaders and site selectors to encourage economic development and future job creation. The branding initiative advertisements show the region as truly a crossroads of trade and tourism, with more than 62 million visitors a year, growing high-tech, digital media and medical research industries, plus new sports, recreation and world-class performing arts venues.

ECONOMIC SUMMIT
BRINGS POSITIVE REPORT

More than 600 citizens attended Mayor Jacobs’ 2015 Orange County Economic Summit, held at the Orange County Convention Center in January, in partnership with the Metro Orlando EDC and numerous corporate sponsors. There was good news from economists and distinguished panelists who spoke at the third annual summit. Forecasters were optimistic that the region's economic ascent would continue in 2015. The summit featured speakers from University of Central Florida, Enterprise Florida Inc., and experts on international trade. An update on the new regional branding initiative, “Orlando. You don’t know the half of it.,” was also provided at the summit.

FLORIDA SIMULATION SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS MODELING SIMULATION AND TRAINING INDUSTRIES

To highlight the state's vital multi-billion dollar modeling, simulation and training (MS&T) industry and Orange County's thriving MS&T cluster, Mayor Jacobs and the National Center for Simulation (NCS) hosted the Florida Simulation Summit in September at the Orange County Convention Center.

The region's robust MS&T sector contributes more than $4.8 billion to Florida's gross state product and directly employs more than 27,000 Floridians with an average annual salary of almost $70,000. The Central Florida Research Park, located next to the University of Central Florida, is the epicenter of the MS&T industry and fosters collaboration, cooperation and partnership between academia, industry and government. By working with our many industry partners, including Orange County’s interdisciplinary MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission, The Corridor, Team Orlando, Central Florida Research Park, the National Center for Simulation, the Metro Orlando Defense Task Force (MODTF) and the OCPS Tech Centers, Central Florida is investing in the future of this high-tech, high-wage, high-value cluster.

The Summit’s impressive brain trust included simulation experts on topics ranging from entertainment, medical, education, transportation and emerging technologies. Summit panelists included speakers from Universal Orlando, IDEAS, the University of Central Florida, EA Sports, Space Florida, Limbitless Solutions, Lockheed Martin Commercial Flight Training, Raytheon Co. and Duke Energy.

Keynote speakers at the Summit included U.S. Congressman John Mica; Waymon Armstrong, the President and CEO of Engineering & Computer Simulations, and Chairman of Orange County's Modeling, Simulation & Training Blue Ribbon Commission; Florida Simulation Summit Chairwoman Beverly Seay; and Walt Disney World Director of Technology and Analysis Michael Tschanz. U.S. Congressman Dan Webster spoke during the luncheon. President and CEO of the NCS, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Baptiste, provided the closing remarks.

The goal of the Summit was to raise awareness of the vast impact the simulation industry has on Central Florida. The impact of commercial simulation on Central Florida's workforce is priceless. From the creation of working limbs and 3-D printers to gaming and simulation applications of staggering sophistication, MS&T is a catalyst for jobs and capital investment throughout our region.

AMERICAN CITIES OF THE FUTURE

fDi Magazine, a publication on foreign direct investment published by the Financial Times Ltd., named Orlando one of the top 10 American Cities of the Future, citing the region’s economic potential and connectivity.

INTERNATIONAL DRIVE
DRAWS WORLDWIDE AUDIENCE

In May, Mayor Jacobs joined acclaimed high-wire walker Nik Wallenda, Gov. Rick Scott and other dignitaries for the opening of Orlando Eye, the centerpiece of the new $250-million I-Drive 360 complex, a blend of attractions, restaurants, clubs and shops on world-famous International Drive.

I-Drive 360 is in the heart of Orange County’s central tourism district, which includes the internationally recognized Orange County Convention Center — the second largest convention facility in America. The Convention Center’s roughly 1.3 million annual visitors contribute approximately $2.1 billion to the area’s economy.

The legendary Wallenda walked the edge of the 400-foot-high spinning wheel without a harness or wire, and set a new Guinness World Record that was televised live on NBC’s “Today” show.

I-Drive 360 also welcomed Shake Shack this summer, a critically acclaimed, modern-day “roadside” burger stand. Over the past decade, Shake Shack has earned a cult-like following around the world with its fun, lively fine-casual restaurant and widespread appeal.

I-Drive 360 is anchored by Madame Tussauds Orlando, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Skeletons: Animals Unveiled!, and a diverse array of dining and nightlife options.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE OFFICE CELEBRATES ONE YEAR

A one-year pilot program to help local companies find international exporting opportunities exceeded expectations in 2015 and will be renewed. Mayor Jacobs joined business leaders in April to celebrate the successful first year of the Central Florida International Trade Office (CFITO) and its growing role of assisting regional entrepreneurs and businesses with international commerce opportunities. CFITO is funded by Orange County with a dollar-per-dollar match from JP Morgan Chase.

During its first year, CFITO held more than 1,200 consultations, created a regional database of more than 5,600 companies interested in doing business locally and participated in more than 25 international trade promotion events. It also established the Friends of International Trade group, registering approximately 400 members in its database.

Located at the Orlando Fashion Square, the National Entrepreneur Center (NEC) was created in 2003 jointly by Orange County, the University of Central Florida and The Walt Disney Co. The center is funded exclusively by local corporate, education and municipal sponsorships, and is home to 11 nonprofit organizations that provide training, coaching and a variety of business resources to regional entrepreneurs and small businesses.

HISPANIC BUSINESS INITIATIVE FUND CONTINUES SUCCESS

In August, Mayor Jacobs met with the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund’s (HBIF) board of directors to discuss accomplishments and opportunities to support the region’s Hispanic small business community.

HBIF is a nonprofit economic development organization that serves Orange County’s Hispanic business owners by providing quality bilingual business development and training services to help strengthen their business and Florida’s economy. HBIF has helped thousands of Hispanic entrepreneurs since its inception and will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. HBIF is headquartered at the state-of-the-art National Entrepreneur Center, which is located at the Orlando Fashion Square Mall.

In September, Mayor Jacobs joined community leaders at HBIF’s 11th Annual Success Stories Luncheon in support of Hispanic entrepreneurs throughout Central Florida. Held at the Rosen Centre on International Drive, the event was attended by more than 500 community leaders. The event honors and recognizes Hispanic entrepreneurs who have started or expanded a business with assistance from the HBIF, Florida’s leading Hispanic economic development organization.

As of 2011, one out of five businesses in the Orlando area is Hispanic owned and 29 percent of Orange County's population is of Hispanic heritage. In recognition of this economic impact, the Board of County Commissioners allocated $125,941 to HBIF in FY 2014-15 and $128,460 in FY 2015-16. From extraordinary culture, arts, academic achievement and leadership, our Hispanic citizens, businesses and organizations, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando and thanks to the Hispanic Heritage Committee of Greater Orange County, our region has experienced sustained positive impact.

NEW NATIONAL
TENNIS HEADQUARTERS
TO BRING $60 ECONOMIC IMPACT

Mayor Jacobs joined business and community leaders in April for the groundbreaking for the new $60-million United States Tennis Association (USTA) facility in Lake Nona.

The state-of-the-art complex in east Orange County will be home to the USTA’s Community Tennis and Player Development divisions. It will create jobs and attract new investments in Central Florida. The region also will benefit from the synergy of the USTA working closely with nearby technology and innovation leaders, including Tavistock and Lake Nona’s Medical City biotech hub. Together with the USTA, our region will attract industries related to sports and wellness, including research and development focused on athletic performance and new products. The 100-plus court tennis center is scheduled for completion in late 2016. The campus will be accessible to youth and recreational players as well as collegiate and professional tour-level athletes.

METRO AREA RANKED HIGH
IN ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

Orlando’s economy was ranked the 11th highest city in the nation and 73rd in the world, according to a Brookings Institution Economic Performance measurement released in January. From 2013 to 2014, Orlando increased its employment by 3.5 percent, well above the national average of 1.2 percent. Orlando also had a Gross Domestic Product increase of 0.1 percent in that time period. The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington that conducts high-quality, independent research.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
PROFESSIONALS CONVERGE
AT CONVENTION CENTER

The Orange County Convention Center hosted 6,000 domestic and international travel bureaus and exhibitors for the U.S. Travel Association’s 2015 IPW in June. Mayor Jacobs joined U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and executives from Visit Orlando to welcome delegates to the three-day industry conference boasting 1,100 exhibitor booths from 74 countries. IPW is the travel industry's premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the United States.

ORLANDOiX CELEBRATES
BURGEONING TECH INDUSTRY

The Orange County Convention Center hosted the first-ever Orlando Interactive Experience (OrlandoiX) digital festival in October, which featured five power-packed days of dynamic keynote speakers, panels, exhibits and entertainment. The one-of-a-kind digital festival showcased leading advancements in entertainment technology, interactive media and digital arts throughout Central Florida.

OrlandoiX showcases the region’s leading tech, gaming and digital industries. The synergy and collaboration resulting from OrlandoiX will help to create economic development opportunities for the region by fostering discovery, innovation, capital investment and, ultimately, job creation.

OrlandoiX was created to showcase cutting-edge digital technology from around the world, and to bring tech-industry leaders to Orlando for a week of conferences and exhibitions.

WOMEN’S BUSINESS CENTER
AT CANVS OPENS

Mayor Jacobs addressed Central Florida women entrepreneurs in March who gathered to celebrate the opening of a new resource center in Orange County. The Women's Business Center at Canvs, the downtown Orlando digital co-working space, nurtures women who are looking to create and launch their own companies or bring an idea to the marketplace. The center provides information about capital, leveraging technology for innovation, developing business plans and navigating the entrepreneurial system. The center is operated by the Florida Institute of Technology.

INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIP
IQ ORLANDO LAUNCHED

Also in March, Mayor Jacobs helped launch an innovative partnership called IQ Orlando, part of Central Florida’s growing life-science businesses sector. Together with IQ Orlando partners UCF, Tavistock Group, AHG Group and Florida Hospital, Mayor Jacobs and other community leaders gathered at Lake Nona's Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute to announce the new partnership, which will focus on recruiting and launching health-focused start-ups to the region. The goals of IQ Orlando include improving the health of the population, increasing access to care and lowering the cost of health care.

REBL HQ DIGITAL STUDIO OPENS
AT FULL SAIL

Orange County expanded its higher-education capabilities as well as its high-tech industry and digital media cluster with the opening of a new digital studio at Full Sail University in March. Mayor Jacobs joined state and local officials to cut the ribbon on the new headquarters for REBL HQ, a digital entertainment studio created in collaboration with California-based Maker Studios.

The studio represents creativity, economic development and job creation. The sophisticated new soundstage and high-tech production space includes cutting-edge amenities and equipment available for students, artists, actors and other creative professionals.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE

Along with a delegation of Central Florida’s elected officials and community leaders, Mayor Jacobs traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, in June for an Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) mission trip focused on that city’s best practices and innovative approaches to regionalism, with the goal of helping further economic development to occur locally.

The 2015 Leadership Experience, a three-day trip with 80 delegates, centered on the theme of next-generation innovation and the new regionalism. The delegation learned how technology giant Intel has developed the area of advanced manufacturing in Arizona and explored details of Greater Phoenix’s regional strategic plan. Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow also shared his insight into ASU’s campus expansion in downtown Phoenix.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC
CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT

Mayor Jacobs joined the Central Florida Sports Commission and community leaders at the historic Cheyenne Saloon in July to launch the Local Organizing Committee for the American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship. The Conference, which is expected to generate approximately 5,000 room nights and more than $5 million of economic impact in Orange County, will be held at the Amway Center March 10-13, 2016. The Committee, which Mayor Jacobs co-chairs with City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, will assist in raising awareness and garnering enthusiasm to help fill the arena by promoting the upcoming championship.

By hosting marquee sports events such as the American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship at the Amway Center, Orange County has the opportunity to again showcase the region's arts, sports and family entertainment venues. The Amway Center also hosted previous marquee basketball events, including the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships and the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.

GLOBAL REAL ESTATE CONFERENCE
CONVERGES IN ORANGE COUNTY

Mayor Jacobs welcomed hundreds of real estate professionals to the Global Real Estate Conference in August at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. The goal of the conference, hosted by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association and the Global Real Estate Council of Orlando, was to highlight global real estate trends and educate Central Floridian real estate professionals on how to do business with current partners, including Canada, South America and the United Kingdom.

Florida is currently one of the major U.S. destinations of international residential real estate buyers, with approximately 25 percent of property purchases occurring in the state. Mayor Jacobs commended attendees for their interest in global trade and travel since the relationship between tourism and trade are intertwined. With record-breaking visitation numbers in 2014 of 62 million visitors, Orange County’s visitors significantly impact the region’s economy, culture and import-export markets.

BIOFLORIDA CONFERENCE
SHOWCASES LOCAL SUCCESSES

Mayor Jacobs joined community leaders at BioFlorida’s 18th Annual Life Sciences Conference in October, which highlighted the growth, successes and transformations of Florida’s thriving biotechnology and life-science sectors in Central Florida.

BioFlorida is the voice of Florida's life-sciences industry, representing nearly 5,500 establishments and research organizations in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics and bioagriculture sectors, which collectively employ nearly 80,000 Floridians. Representatives from companies, institutions, communities and the state legislature participated in the expanded programing highlighting Florida’s areas of strengths in various medical technologies, pharmacology, medical advances in injuries and research.

STRENGTHENING ECONOMIC AND
CULTURAL TIES WITH
NETHERLANDS AND GERMANY

Mayor Jacobs led an economic development mission to the Netherlands and Germany in the fall. Orange County has had a Sister Cities agreement with the region of North Brabant since September 2012. This was Orange County’s first trip to the region, reciprocating the three previous visits to Orlando from the North Brabant and Tilburg governments.

The mission group included representatives from Orange County’s Office of Economic and Trade Tourism Development, the Orlando Economic Development Commission, the University of Central Florida and Orlando International Airport. Mayor Jacobs’ visit started in the City of Tilburg, located in the region of North Brabant.

North Brabant is the south central mainland province of the Netherlands. Orange County and the region of North Brabant, or Hart van Brabant by its Dutch name, have diverse commonalities and share the same key industries and objectives of attracting investment, cultivating innovation and promoting collaboration between education institutions. Mayor Jacobs’ visit focused on the key industries shared by both regions such as tourism, healthcare, life sciences and aerospace.

Prior to the economic development mission, Nathalie Olijslager-Jaarsma, Consul General of the Netherlands, and Mayor Jacobs met to discuss opportunities to encourage Central Florida tourism and business development. Olijslager-Jaarsma was appointed the Consul General of the Netherlands in December 2013, and is based in Miami.

ORANGE COUNTY WELCOMES
EMIRATES TO ORLANDO
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Mayor Jacobs joined regional leaders to celebrate Emirates Airlines' newest gateway to the United States, Orlando International Airport (OIA). The Dubai-based airline began its daily nonstop-passenger service from Orlando to Dubai in August. Not only is the new passenger service the first of its kind in Orlando, it is also the first time an Airbus A380 aircraft has ever landed in Orlando.

The launch of Emirates’ passenger service through OIA is perfectly timed, as the state of Florida is investing $145 million in the world-class airport for an expansion of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s (GOAA) South Terminal Complex, which will boost domestic and international passenger service. Orlando is Emirates' 10th U.S. destination. This new passenger service, and its global gateway to the Middle East and Asia, is expected to impact Central Florida's economy significantly.

ORANGE COUNTY VISITED
BY CENTRAL FLORIDA’S
CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

Mayor Jacobs met with leaders from 15 Central Florida Chambers of Commerce to discuss community accomplishments, small business issues and future economic opportunities. Chamber representatives learned more about various community initiatives, including Orange County Government's Neighborhood Improvement District, overseen by the Neighborhood Preservation & Revitalization Division. These designated special districts promote redevelopment, encourage community beautification and focus on crime prevention.

The group also learned about the Workplace Sustainability Challenge and Recognition Program, to be launched by Orange County and several partners in January 2016. The Challenge focuses on three key areas where businesses can improve, including community involvement, green practices and healthy workplaces.

Continuing Orange County Government's commitment to maintaining the region as the best place to live, work and raise a family, Mayor Jacobs outlined to the group her proposal for one of the largest capital investment projects in Orange County's history, a $300-million initiative, INVEST in Our Home for Life.