Welcome to Orange County – I say that time and time again as I have the honor of welcoming visitors like you to our Central Florida community. As a matter of fact, Orlando welcomed 55.2 million visitors in 2012. We are the first destination in the United States to surpass 50 million visitors in one year. Orange County is not only a great place to visit but a great best place to live, work, learn, and do business as well. Let me tell you why.
Job Creation in Orange County
Since taking office in 2011, I have made it a priority to strengthen and diversify our local economy. Our unemployment rate has dropped 3.3%and over the past year, we have assisted in 11 economic development projects that promise to bring more than 1,200 new high-wage, high-value jobs to orange county.
Tax incentives for new Jobs
Orange County voters passed a referendum that allows the board to provide limited, temporary property tax breaks for new or expanding businesses that create high-value permanent new jobs in various targeted industries. Each proposal will have to undergo the scrutiny of orange county staff, the board and the citizens via public hearings and must be enacted by a separate ordinance.
Orange County Convention Center
In 2012 the bcc approved a major five-year, $185 million renovation program at the Orange County convention center to keep the center in modern condition and enhance its marketability. In April, SPI, the Plastics industry Trade association hosted NPE2012 at the center and will be returning in 2015. NPE, the international Plastics showcase, is the largest plastics technology and manufacturing exposition in the world and one of the biggest trade shows in the United States. With 1,900 companies represented and over 55,000 registered attendees, the estimated economic impact of the four-day global conference was pegged at approximately $114 million. Other events included the international builders’ show, with its more than 51,000 attendees and economic impact of $97 million and star Wars celebration VI, which provided an estimated $28 million impact.
NBA All-Star game at the Amway Center
NBA fans and players from across the country and around the world descended upon orange county in February for the 2012 NBA all-star Weekend at the Amway center and the Orange County Convention Center. The economic impact was approximately $95 million.
Economic development outreach to South America I lead two trade delegations to Colombia last year and made two major economic development announcements after the missions. The bio-energy conference of the americas (beca) committed to bringing their trade show to Orange County in 2014. The conference brings international experts, companies and higher education institutions together to showcase the latest technologies and advancements in renewable energy. Additionally, Avianca now provides a daily nonstop flight from Bogota to Orlando International Airport. This new flight will have an annual estimated economic impact of $16 million.
Orange County Global Trade Series
We launched the Orange County global Trade series, which focuses on engaging local businesses in the promotion of Global Trade in Central Florida. Meetings included doing business with Colombia; doing business with Puerto Rico; The European Union showcase; and Brazil: a World of opportunities. The latter focused on the opportunities we learned from my trip to Sao Paulo with Florida Governor Rick Scott and the potential market Brazil represents to our local business owners.
Passenger Rail Advances in Central Florida
Sunrail, Central Florida’s commuter rail project, is moving ahead toward commencement of service on Phase 1 in 2014. Progress also continues on all aboard Florida, a proposed privately owned 240- mile passenger service route which would run north-south on existing right of way from Miami to Cocoa, with new tracks planned to connect to Orlando International Airport and Sunrail. Future plans also envision extending the service to Tampa and Jacksonville.
This is only a snapshot of what is going on in Orange County. I encourage you to explore the other side of Orange County and learn how your business can benefit from our diverse economy. Contact my office for more information on how we can help you embrace our economy and the world of opportunities it holds.
Pic Source: Wikimedia Commons