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In 2018, Central Florida was ranked first in the nation for job growth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, Forbes magazine ranked the metro Orlando region No. 1 to invest in a home with an estimated 84,000 building permits issued in Orange County valued at $2.3 billion. Orange County also earned the highest AAA credit rating from Moody's Investors Service, recognizing its fiscal reliability and continued quality-of-life enhancements.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs continued her commitment to engaging students in local government by hosting her Fourth Annual Youth Leadership Conference at Rollins College in March.
More than 200 high-school student leaders from 22 Orange County Public Schools attended the half-day event, which teaches students about their local government, how to participate in community initiatives and how to strengthen their leadership skills. Students said they learned how to make their voices heard about all of the services Orange County provides to its residents.
Hundreds of citizens participated in Mayor Jacobs’ Fourth Annual Jazz in the Park, held annually at Cypress Grove Park, nestled along beautiful Lake Jessamine’s shoreline. During her remarks, Mayor Jacobs recognized volunteers and several service organizations for making Orange County the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family. Mayor Jacobs thanked citizens, who live by the philosophy of “neighbors helping neighbors,” donating their time, talent and resources to local service organizations.
The new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts provided the perfect setting in February for a statewide cultural conference. Mayor Jacobs spoke at the conference, focused on the powerful role arts and culture play in the overall health of communities and states.
Nationally recognized leaders joined with individuals who work in Florida's cultural community for meaningful professional development, networking and collaboration. The day-long conference — Convening Culture 2015: Building a Healthier Florida Through Arts and Culture — included presentations in the fields of arts and culture, health care, the environment, research and advocacy.
Mayor Jacobs and the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) welcomed and recognized the state high-school football champion Apopka Blue Darters to the BCC Chamber in January. The Blue Darters competed in the largest classification for high schools, Class 8A, and won the title after defeating Miami’s Columbus High School at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, by a score of 30-23. The Blue Darters won four playoff games on their way to the championship.
An inside look at how Orange County runs drew the largest class yet, when more than 30 citizens graduated in February from the Orange County Experience. Mayor Jacobs attended the graduation ceremony of the third class of the Orange County Experience, a 12-week series of classes that kicked off last fall. It provides citizens and community leaders the opportunity to learn more about Orange County Government and the vital services that the County provides — from technology and infrastructure, to neighborhoods, health and family services.
Mayor Jacobs joined Visit Orlando in June for the launch of a worldwide consumer campaign in search of the millions of stories visitors share about Orlando, the theme park capital of the world. The global marketing and sales campaign featuring "Orlando — the Never Ending Story," collects unforgettable guest experiences shared in social media posts, photos and videos through the hashtag #MyOrlandoStory and on the website OrlandoStories.com. The campaigned served as the cornerstone of Visit Orlando's global marketing and sales efforts in the region’s number one overseas market, Brazil, as well as Colombia and the United States, followed by Canada and the United Kingdom.
Mayor Jacobs joined University of Central Florida President John Hitt and hundreds of Knights fans at the CFE Arena on August 21 for the annual Countdown to Kickoff Luncheon in celebration of the 2015 football season.
Guests enjoyed entertainment by UCF Mascot Knightro and the Spirit Squad. The event's guest speaker was Sergio Joachim, a former Knights football player and successful entrepreneur. Event proceeds benefited the Everyday Champions student-athlete scholarship fund.
The Center for Digital Government, sister organization to Government Technology, recognized Orange County, Florida, as one of the top 10 digital counties in the nation for its adaptive and pioneering innovation.
The new OCFL Serves mobile application was launched in June and provides a convenient way to search and sign up for community-service volunteer opportunities within Orange County. Opportunities include roles at departments ranging from Fire Rescue to Parks and Recreation, and even at local nonprofit organizations. Download OCFL Serves to become involved in your community. (Android | Apple)
Orange County’s unique OCFL Alert, OCFL 311 and OCFL News apps are available for free on Apple and Android devices. In addition to the benefits of digital and online emergency management communication capabilities, Orange County’s smartphone applications encourage transparency and citizen engagement, and help residents stay more connected with their government.
More than a dozen children from Orange County’s Head Start program joined Mayor Jacobs in the Board of County Commissioners Chambers for a reading of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The reading took place in support of Just 1 Book, a charity that collects and distributes books to children in need, including those participating in Head Start programs and other community programs.
Founded by Sarah Dewitz when she was only 10 years old, Just 1 Book has donated more than 200,000 books to children in Florida since the charity was founded in 2010. The charity is thriving and plans to expand services to New Jersey this year.
Orange County has proudly supported Dewitz throughout her charitable journey, including the donation of the Just 1 Book Mobile, the van used to distribute books to families across Central Florida.