Under the leadership of Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County has achieved strong economic gains while continuously balancing its budget, and without cutting services and without raising taxes. Orange County’s 2017 – 2018 budget of $4.1 billion ensures that all major County services remain at or above current levels of service. This fiscal discipline has resulted in strong bond and market ratings for the County and great fiscal benefits for taxpayers.
Since 2010, the County’s unemployment rate has dropped from 11 percent to 3.1 percent in October 2017. Since Mayor Jacobs took office, 138,675 new jobs have been created in Orange County. As a result, and for the second year in a row, Central Florida ranked number one in the nation for job growth among large regions. Forbes ranked Orlando as one of the nation’s Best Cities to Buy Housing, third for Best Big Cities for Jobs and one of the 10 Cities that Americans Are Moving to Right Now in 2017.
Orange County’s permitting numbers reflect the same healthy momentum of its reported economic metrics, with more than 3,616 new home permits issued this year, catapulting Orange County’s 2017 building permit valuations to $1.28 billion.
In 2017, property tax revenue finally returned to its pre-recession levels thanks to aggressive economizing, restructuring and fiscal discipline practices that Mayor Jacobs instituted upon her election to the Office of Mayor in 2010. Property tax collections are the County’s largest source of revenue.
Economic Summit Highlighted Progress and Workforce Success
Mayor Jacobs welcomed a capacity crowd of more than 600 attendees to the 2017 Economic Summit at the Orange County Convention Center in January.
Now in its fifth year, the Economic Summit is hosted annually by Mayor Jacobs and provides a barometer on growing business sectors and regional economic successes. The highly anticipated annual local and state economic forecast, issued by nationally renowned economist Sean Snaith, Ph.D., director of the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Institute for Economic Competitiveness, is the central highlight of the event.
The region’s robust economy, remarkable connectivity and transportation enhancements, in addition to it’s diverse and talented workforce, continues to aid Orange County’s upward trajectory of economic growth and progress. The Summit’s panel of notable workforce experts also offered their perspective on how local certification programs can open doors to a multitude of opportunities for those seeking job training and technical skills outside the traditional four-year degree.
Following the 2017 Economic Summit, Orange County hosted the second Florida TechMatch, an invitation-only event that gives local technology companies the chance to build relationships with national industry leaders. During Florida TechMatch, about 50 tech companies met with almost 20 enterprise companies and organizations like Universal Studios Resort, Orlando Science Center, Verizon, City of Orlando and CareerSource Central Florida.
Simulation Summit Highlighted Virtual Reality in Transportation, Construction and Medical Industries
To highlight Florida's 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 third annual Florida Simulation Summit in September 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center. The Summit focused on virtual and augmented reality within the transportation and automotive industry, the architecture and engineering sectors, and the medical robotics and simulation sectors. In addition to sharing industry insights on cutting-edge virtual and augmented applications, the goal of the summit is to raise awareness about the simulation industry’s vast impact on the broader region and economy.
Through the use of augmented reality and simulation in construction and transportation planning, as well as in the medical industry through the creation of simulated cutting-edge surgical procedures and medical applications, the MS&T industry has proven to be catalyst for jobs and capital investment in Central Florida.
Elizabeth Baron, from Ford Motor Co., served as the keynote speaker for the event. Baron, a virtual reality and advanced technical specialist, spoke about immersive storytelling for vehicle design and engineering. Dr. Christopher D. Prevel, associate chief of staff, surgical services and chief of surgery for Orlando VA Medical Center, shared information on health and wellness innovation strategy within Medical City during the lunch keynote presentation. The panel discussions held throughout the day covered the integration of autonomous vehicles in cities, how theme parks and commercial space flight are related, architecture, engineering and construction, and how virtual reality and augmented reality are revolutionizing medical training and procedures.
NFL Pro Bowl Welcomed Nearly 61,000 Fans
Orange County and Camping World Stadium hosted 60,834 fans for the National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl on January 30, 2017. Mayor Jacobs joined the celebration as the American Football Conference competed against the National Football Conference in a match up of skills from the best all-star players in the NFL. The Pro Bowl brought together fans and representatives from 30 teams, featuring a return to the traditional Pro Bowl format where the AFC and NFC competed against each other.
In 2016, Mayor Jacobs, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, leaders from Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports and the NFL announced that Camping World Stadium would host the Pro Bowl for two years, with an option for a third. This was the first time Florida has hosted a Pro Bowl since 2010. Based on previous games in Hawaii and Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, media reports have estimated the economic impact of the Pro Bowl in Orlando at $25 million.
Leading up to the big game, Pro Bowl Week celebrated all levels of football — from youth to high school — and provided fans the opportunity to watch Pro Bowl practices at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The NFL Pro Bowl Experience was a free festival that featured interactive games, a virtual reality experience and a photo opportunity with the Pro Bowl Trophy to excite fans for the game.
Following the great success of its first year in Orlando, the NFL Pro Bowl will return to Camping World Stadium on Sunday, January 28, 2018.
Orange County Sets 68-Million-Visitor World Record and Thanks Guests for Making It No. 1 Destination in U.S.
Orlando took the concept of appreciating its visitors to unprecedented heights in May, achieving a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title by gathering thousands of hand-written thank you cards from local attractions and hotels to mail to actual guests who visited Orlando in 2016. The event was launched in conjunction with the announcement of a record 68 million visitors in 2016. The event and announcement celebrated National Travel and Tourism Week.
Also in 2017, Mayor Jacobs and Visit Orlando challenged the Orlando community to participate in creating a dish that defines Orlando and expands people’s awareness of the region as a premier dining destination. Chefs, residents and visitors were invited to join, create and choose a Signature Dish for Orlando using honey. The winning dish, "Honey Nougat Glacé” was created by Chef Catherine Delrieu of Mon Petit Cheri in Winter Park.
Powerhouse Businesses Expanded in Orange County
A key factor in propelling Orange County’s bright future is the strength of our local economy. The region welcomed a new era in economic prosperity with the expansion of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC), which will bring 500 new high-wage jobs to Orange County along with $200 million in capital investment. Lockheed's MFC develops, manufactures and supports advanced combat, missile, rocket, manned and unmanned systems for military customers that include the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, NASA and many foreign allies.
In May, Mayor Jacobs and Gov. Rick Scott joined the community for the highly anticipated KPMG groundbreaking ceremony in Lake Nona. KPMG, which provides audit, tax and advisory services nationwide and internationally, plans to build a 55-acre state-of-the art learning, development and global training center in Orange County. The new facility will encourage innovation and further enhance the world-class training capabilities KPMG offers to its partners and professionals by focusing on “inspiring human performance.”
KPMG’s new training center will make a $430 million capital investment in Orange County and bring 80 high-wage jobs to the community, with an additional 250 third-party contract operator positions. The training center will also invite KPMG executives from throughout the nation for extended training and will demonstrate the high levels of professional service sector and workforce preparedness in Orange County. The facility’s Innovation Center will provide an “immersive learning experience” designed to enhance the skills that KPMG professionals will use with their clients. The training facility will feature 800 guest rooms, fitness and outdoor recreational facilities, and multiple food and beverage venues.
Additionally, Amazon.com Inc.’s new fulfillment center, the region’s largest jobs announcement, will create 1,500 new full-time jobs with benefits and opportunities to engage with Amazon Robotics in a highly technological workplace when it opens in 2018. Amazon employees at the future 850,000-sqare-foot fulfillment center in Lake Nona will pick, pack and ship small items like books, electronics or consumer goods to customers.
Orange County Welcomed International Delegations and Consuls
Mayor Jacobs met several international consuls and delegations to exchange ideas on future economic, educational and cultural collaborations. In addition to hosting a large group from China’s Chengde Delegation, Mayor Jacobs also welcomed Ken Okaniwa, the Consul General of Japan, and Annette Klein, German Consul General, to Orange County to expand relationships, trade opportunities and investment between Europe, Asia and Central Florida.
In December, Mayor Jacobs welcomed more than 70 leaders in government, academia and the private sector from the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Germany and Israel to the 8th Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE) in Orange County. ACE is a regional initiative of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC). The program is designed to build networks between the local and visiting leaders and establish long-term collaborative partnerships.
This year, the ACE program showcased successful examples of entrepreneurship, innovation, strategic investments and public-private partnerships in Orange County and the North-Central Florida region. The program also provided decision and policy makers a chance to see first-hand the initiatives and entrepreneurship shaping Florida’s communities.
Orange County Welcomed New Orlando City Soccer Stadium
Mayor Jacobs joined the City of Orlando, Parramore Advisory Board, Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) as well as partners and fans from LionNation for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new Orlando City Soccer Stadium on Church Street in downtown Orlando in February.
The stadium, located two blocks away from the Amway Center, is the official home to both the OCSC Lions and Orlando Pride professional soccer clubs. The facility seats 25,500 attendees and features a natural grass playing surface, a four-sided canopy roof to amplify crowd noise and North America’s first full, safe-standing supporters’ section. The stadium was announced in March 2015.
Premier Sporting Events Bring Millions in Economic Impact to Region
Fans from around the world descended upon Orange County for a week-long lineup of festivities to celebrate WrestleMania 2017 in April. The sold-out Camping World Stadium broadcasted the pop-culture extravaganza on the WWE network on April 2 and had an estimated $181.5 million economic impact in Central Florida. WWE hosted more than a dozen community outreach events designed to give back to the Central Florida community. WWE, a publicly traded company, is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment.
In March, the Amway Center hosted the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship First/Second Rounds, bringing in an estimated $6.6 million economic impact to the region. Mayor Jacobs, Orlando Mayor Dyer, Mayor Jacobs and Orlando Police Chief John Mina were named honorary captains for the first night’s NCAA Tourney games. Once again, Mayor Jacobs invited local athletes from Bishop More High School to assist in completing the County’s official “bracket,” a time-honored and beloved NCAA Basketball tournament tradition.