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The Central Florida community remains united after the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016, when a gunman killed 49 innocent people, injured 68 others and impacted countless more in Orange County and worldwide. In the wake of the shooting, first responders performed heroically and tirelessly to save lives and care for the victims and the wounded.

The Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office worked around the clock to identify and reunite the 49 victims of the Pulse tragedy with their families within 72 hours; Orlando Health mobilized an extraordinary medical response to the largest mass shooting in U.S. history; and law enforcement, firefighters and emergency responders from throughout the region responded with courage, skill and bravery. Our legendary “safety net” of second responders, including the Victim Service Center of Central Florida, was comprehensive in its efforts, coming together to offer services from mental health counseling to shelter, care and meals.

In tribute to the lives lost, Section 93 of the Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag was proudly displayed at the Orange County Government Administration Center in downtown Orlando June 16 and 17. Mayor Jacobs held a commemorative ceremony on June 17 to honor the victims of the shooting and to celebrate what the flag symbolizes — acceptance, understanding, education, solidarity and inclusion.

In the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy, then-President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Orlando to visit the families of the 49 victims. President Obama also visited the memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

On June 23, in partnership with Walt Disney World Resort, AT&T, Orange County Government, the City of Orlando and Heart of Florida United Way, the Orlando United Assistance Center (OUAC) officially opened its doors to serve those affected by the tragedy. The OUAC continues to operate and provide counseling services and serves as a navigation point to assess the needs and provide information, support and resources to those directly affected by the Pulse tragedy.


Since the Pulse tragedy, the Orange County’s Regional History Center has collected and preserved more than 5,000 items, including the 49 Pulse Crosses that were previously on display at Orlando Regional Medical Center. The History Center serves as the repository and caretaker for the physical tribute items, which will continue to be collected and handled with great dignity as part of the One Orlando Collection Initiative. Orange County Government and its Regional History Center established the One Orlando Collection Initiative in partnership with the City of Orlando, the Historical Society of Central Florida and numerous community stakeholders and partners, to preserve history and properly care for the many thousands of tribute items created in response to the tragic loss of life that occurred at Pulse. The Orange County Facilities Management team also worked tirelessly to manage the dignified and careful removal of thousands of deteriorated flowers, candles and broken glass from the memorials. A local uniformed Central Florida Council Boy Scouts of America troop also performed the dignified removal of hundreds of American flags from the Dr. Phillips Center, along with Puerto Rican and other official flags. The flags were properly retired by the American Legion.

All Central Florida sports teams also stood #OrlandoUnited with the community. At Orlando City Soccer Club’s first home game following the tragedy, the team and stadium attendees paid tribute to the 49 victims who lost their lives and Pulse survivors in a pre-match ceremony against the San Jose Earthquakes. The game also featured Major League Soccer’s first-ever moment of silence during the match’s 49th minute. The Orlando Pride, Orlando Magic, Orlando Predators, and Orlando Solar Bears also paid tribute to Pulse victims and survivors during their home games. They also joined forces with Orlando City Soccer Club to fundraise through T-shirt sales and other efforts.

On June 21, Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office and gave employees the Governor’s Medal of Unity.

In July, Mayor Jacobs authored a joint resolution pledging to support efforts to pass legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identification. In an effort to make the community inclusive of everyone, Mayor Jacobs initiated a call to action for lawmakers and political leaders by championing the anti-discrimination resolution. The resolution was signed by more than 20 Republican elected officials.

In October, the New Orleans LGBT Hospitality Alliance (NOLHA) and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) presented Orange County’s Regional History Center with a one-of-a-kind New Orleans fleur-de-lis sculpture honoring the victims and families of the Pulse Orlando nightclub tragedy.

On December 12, a twilight remembrance ceremony was held at Orange County’s Regional History Center. The event featured beautiful performances by the Orlando Gay Chorus and the acclaimed Central Florida vocalist, Sisaundra Lewis. City of Orlando Police Chief John Mina and City of Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan addressed attendees, as did Barbara Poma, owner of the Pulse nightclub, and representatives from The Center and the LGBTQ Alliance. The day also marked the unveiling of the Pulse Digital Gallery, located in the first floor alcove of the History Center, and featuring a continuous loop of digital Pulse photos. The digital gallery includes a viewing area. It is free and open to the public during regular History Center operating hours. An online gallery is also available.

Together Orange County will continue to remember the injured, impacted and deceased, to care for their families, friends and loved ones, and to honor the courage, valor and compassion of the countless first and second Pulse tragedy responders.


In August, Mayor Jacobs hosted a thank-you luncheon for the Victim Service Center of Central Florida (VSC) to recognize the staff for their year-round hard work and ongoing commitment to aiding those impacted by the June 12 Pulse nightclub tragedy. The VSC was the first crisis counseling and victim services provider to respond to the tragedy. Advocates worked around the clock to provide comfort, and to console the victims’ families, those who survived, and others who were impacted by the tragedy. Advocates also worked closely with local law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other partner agencies to provide support and crisis intervention.


On Earth Day, April 22, Mayor Jacobs welcomed the community to the 2016 State of the County address at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on dazzling International Drive, the heart of our thriving hospitality and Convention Center district.

With more than 750 citizens in attendance, and many more watching online, Mayor Jacobs provided guests with an overview of Orange County’s prosperous economy, strong job growth, stable and fiscally responsible management of County finances, and well-defined plans that will enhance Orange County’s quality of life for future generations to come.

Since 2010, an astounding 96,900 jobs have been created. Last year, the construction of 2,600 new homes catapulted the County’s 2015 building permit valuations to $1.9 billion, a staggering 17 percent increase from the prior year - without any property tax hikes, millage rate increases or cuts to County services. For the third year in a row, countywide property tax revenues are up, with more than $386 million generated in 2015.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs also announced the debut of the new web and mobile application, OCFL Atlas, which pinpoints development projects throughout the County. The free app encourages citizens to become more engaged in the growth of their community by tracking new construction projects in the area. OCFL Atlas allows residents to access real-time development data, board meeting details and project locations. Users can zoom into their current location, search by address or pan around Orange County to view new projects.


In early September, Mayor Jacobs sent a letter to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) announcing her support for an additional $45 million of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) funding to complete the second and final stage of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and to establish a sports bid fund in the initial amount of $5 million with annual replenishment amounts of up to $2 million.

Mayor Jacobs also outlined an option the County has under the venues agreement to prepay the city’s contract TDT debt with County refunding debt, which would then free up substantial TDT funding so that the BCC could consider other spending priorities.

After receiving strong support for the Mayor’s TDT plan from the hospitality industry and the Tourist Development Council, the BCC unanimously approved this three-part proposal on November 1.

The approved plan is an efficient way to take advantage of tourist-generated taxes and will not raise taxes or financially impact local residents. The TDT is a 6 percent tax on short-term lodging, such as hotel rooms.

The additional $45 million in TDT funding for DPC will allow for the completion of Phase II of the DPC, including the acoustic Steinmetz Hall. Since opening in late 2014, the DPC has become one of the most celebrated artistic centers in the nation. The acoustic Steinmetz Hall will be the home of local performers, including the Orlando Philharmonic, the Orlando Ballet and Opera Orlando. Phase II will break ground in 2017, with an expected grand opening in 2020.

In late January, the NFL Pro Bowl will be played right here at the Camping World Stadium. With the substantial TDT investments that the County has made in our world class sporting venues, we have raised our profile as a place to host major professional and amateur sporting events. The establishment of a consolidated and dedicated sports bid fund under Visit Orlando will ensure that we can compete for the most beneficial and desirable sporting events for many years to come.

Finally, over the last year, the County has heard presentations from its Convention Center regarding their campus master plan, which includes several proposed large capital projects to meet the needs of their customers. The County has also heard from the hospitality industry and the arts community about their requests for TDT funding for capital and operational needs. Prior to the Mayor’s TDT plan being approved, there was no additional funding to address these additional requests. With the restructuring of the community venues debt, there will now be additional funding so that the BCC can consider other spending priorities.


In February, Mayor Jacobs joined citizens and employees for Orange County Government's Annual Black History Month Celebration Luncheon, held on the lawn of the Orange County Government Administration Center in downtown Orlando. The free event was coordinated by the Black History Committee of Orange County (BHCOC) and featured food vendors, live entertainment and information booths.

Orange County Government and the BHCOC have worked together for many years to develop programs and activities that support the goals and achievements of our nation's brave and beloved African-American civil rights and community leaders. The BHCOC has also continued to pave the way for future generations through their educational and community efforts. Since 2004, the committee has provided more than $300,000 in community donations and scholarships to Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College, Florida A&M University, Florida Memorial University, University of Central Florida, Valencia College and Rollins College.

Orange County continues to remember the life and legacy of so many African-American pioneers in Central Florida, including Zora Neale Hurston, the famed author who adopted Eatonville as her home; Pappy Kennedy, the first African-American elected to the Orlando City Council; Mable Butler, who served as Orange County's first African-American County Commissioner and held the first Black History Month Festival in 2006; Judge Emerson R. Thompson, Jr., the first African-American Chief Judge in the 9th Judicial Circuit; and former Chief Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., the first African-American in Central Florida to be elected Judge without first being appointed.


May marked Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and Orange County employees and community partners observed the historic month by organizing a festive cultural celebration held on the lawn of the County’s Administration Center.

The event, now in its fourth year, was coordinated by the Orange County Asian Committee (OCAC), an employee-based volunteer organization formed in 2012. OCAC’s goal is to promote and preserve the heritage and culture of Asian-Americans, while forming partnerships throughout the community and building relationships with local and international governments.


Mayor Jacobs hosted a celebration at the Orange County’s Regional History Center in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs annually from September 15 through October 15. The celebration included the unveiling of a Hispanic art exhibition, cultural dance performances and Hispanic food.

The Hispanic Heritage Committee of Greater Orange County (HHCGOC) coordinated and organized the event, which was attended by Orange County commissioners, local officials, employees and hundreds of citizens. The HHCGOC is a volunteer-based organization founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing opportunities that promote and highlight the contributions made by individuals of Hispanic descent in the community.

In October, the fourth annual Orange Fiesta in the Park was held at Jay Blanchard Park, a family-friendly event hosted by Orange County and HHCGOC. Attendees enjoyed live music performances, Latin cuisine and other festivities, including the championship games of the second annual Mayor’s Cup. Mayor Jacobs, District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke, former Congressman John L. Mica and various elected officials presented the trophies to the winning teams.


On Memorial Day, the Orange County Mayor's Veterans Advisory Council hosted the War Memorial Commemoration Ceremony at the Orange County Courthouse to honor the nation's fallen Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. The ceremony recognized the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and paid tribute to the fallen and those held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action in Vietnam.

The ceremony's keynote speaker was retired Army Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, who served as Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserve. During his 38 years of service, Lt. Gen. Stultz was awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. Lt. Gen. Stultz reflected on the Memorial Wall that features the names of 162 local service men and women who lost their lives or are missing in action in Vietnam. No new names were added to the memorial this year.


In July, the Orange County Farm Bureau hosted its Annual Legislative Luncheon. Mayor Jacobs and the Board of County Commissioners attended the lunch, during which the Bureau's board of directors updated Orange County officials on the nursery industry, agricultural lending and industry needs. In September, the Farm Bureau held its annual Membership Dinner to recognize the contributions of local farmers and ranchers in the region. Mayor Jacobs, former District 1 Commissioner S. Scott Boyd, District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson, former Congressman John L. Mica and other elected officials attended the event to show their longstanding support for the region’s agricultural community.

The Orange County Farm Bureau assists in upholding the state's reputation as a national leader in the agriculture and farming sector and is a part of the Florida Farm Bureau Federation (FFBF). FFBF was founded to promote and protect the agricultural interests of farmers and ranchers as they work to responsibly provide an abundant food supply using Florida's natural resources.

As of 2015, more than 155,000 jobs in Orange County are related to agriculture, according to a study by the University of Florida. Studies show that nearly 18 percent of Orange County residents work in an agriculture-related field, including those producing and processing food goods.

Orange County, specifically West Orange County, is a citrus industry leader. For decades, West Orange County’s viable and robust agricultural sector has propelled Orange County forward as an industry leader in agriculture. Today, Orange County’s citrus industry is ranked No. 19 in the state, and its nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod industry is ranked second in the state and fifth in the nation.


New Year’s Day marked the debut of Orange County's new once-a-week automated waste collection service. Residents of unincorporated Orange County were issued one 95-gallon, green-lid roll cart for garbage collection and one blue-lid roll cart for single-stream recycling, which allows residents to place aluminum cans, cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, and other recyclables in one receptacle. The new recycling process allows customers to toss accepted recyclables into one bin rather than into separate containers. Many of the new trucks are fueled with compressed natural gas, a cleaner-burning fuel. Orange County provides solid-waste services to over 210,000 households.


In February, the International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce honored Mayor Jacobs with the Visionary Leadership Award. The award recognizes an outstanding community leader whose vision has made a tremendous impact on the International Drive Resort Area, including the hospitality and tourism industry.

Recognizing the importance of creating a shared vision for the International Drive area, Mayor Jacobs appointed the International Drive Vision Plan Steering Review Group (SRG) in January 2015, composed of I-Drive-area stakeholders and landowners who are committed to maintaining I-Drive as the world's premier global destination for tourism and family entertainment. The SRG was tasked with crafting a comprehensive and cohesive plan for the Study Area along with implementation strategies and tools for consideration by the Board of County Commissioners (BCC). The I-Drive 2040 Vision was accepted by the BCC on November 3, 2015.


The Orange County Board of County Commissioners earned the 2016 Annual Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award for the 21st consecutive year. Orange County is one of only 48 counties in the United States and Canada to receive this award presented by the National Procurement Institute.


Orange County Government is the proud recipient of several awards from the National Association of Counties, the Center for Digital Government, the Public Relations Society of America and Florida Public Relations Association's Orlando Area Chapter. Orange County's Communications Division was recognized for industry excellence in community outreach, social media and its pioneering online newsroom and companion OCFL News app.


Now in its sixth year, Mayor Jacobs launched the Holiday Heroes Toy Drive during the BCC meeting on November 15. In 2016, Orange County employees and citizens generously donated 6,958 gift items, far exceeding last year’s toy drive collection of 5,100 toys. Since the Toy Drive’s inception in 2011, more than 24,200 toys have been distributed to local children through several community organizations, including Orange County Neighborhood Centers for Families, Orange County Public Schools’ Homeless Program, Wraparound Orange and United Against Poverty, formerly the Community Food and Outreach Center. Upon collection, all toys donated to the Holiday Heroes Toy Drive are sorted by age and gender, a task which is only accomplished through countless employee and volunteer hours.

Once again, FOX 35 was the official media partner for the Toy Drive. FOX 35 donated more than $220,000 in airtime, including a special live segment during their morning show, Good Day Orlando.

For the first time, Orange County Government hosted “Coffee with a Cop,” and even during which the community was encouraged to donate a toy for coffee and conversation with deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office at the World's Largest Entertainment McDonald's & PlayPlace.


In an effort to make the holidays special for Orange County firefighters, Mayor Jacobs began the Adopt a Fire Station program in 2012 so that neighborhood groups, businesses, and non-profits could recognize and give back to Fire Stations in the County during the holidays.

Through Adopt a Fire Station, groups show their appreciation by helping provide holiday meals and volunteering their time at their local station. In 2016, 72 groups of families, organizations, businesses and schools in Orange County adopted all 41 fire stations. These groups hosted special activities in November and December for their assigned Fire Stations, including bringing holiday meals and treats and volunteering their time.