Eric Wright

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A Regional Vision

As we celebrate the 4th of July, usually with friends and family, afternoon picnics and evening fireworks, one can’t help but wonder if the founders, even in their wildest dreams, could foresee the nation that would arise out of their audacious vision.

Visions are like that; they begin as just a seed in some scientist, some coder, some civic leader or entrepreneur’s mind and then grow often beyond the limits of even the visionary’s scope.

This month we have focused on the vision for what this region can be. A place where the economy is robust and diverse, where people want to live and work, while the lifestyle and natural amenities that attracted us here are preserved for everyone to enjoy.

As we celebrate, we also need to remember that the primary author of the document whose signing we remember, Thomas Jefferson, was only 33 when he signed the Declaration of Independence. The average age of the signers was 44 and more than a dozen were 35 or younger. Therefore, while we ponder the future, we want to recognize and celebrate one of the rising young architects of what tomorrow can be, Jim Thomas.

Jim Thomas

Executive Director of Orlando Trep and the Executive Vice President and Director of Innovation at Orlando Inc. (Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce)

GO EAST YOUNG MAN…

Thomas, originally from California, grew up in Los Angeles. He has worked extensively in politics and government at the local, state and federal levels. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees in public policy from the University of Southern California.

FINDING THE FUTURE

Thomas says he loves his hometown, but was looking for an “up and coming” city that had great people, prosperity and potential. He visited the northeast, Denver and Boulder, Austin and Miami. Along the way he also had the opportunity to visit Orlando. Unfortunately, “I had a great time, but I didn’t learn anything about the city and region. Luckily the following year I was fortunate enough to return to Orlando, and as the fine folks at the Orlando EDC would say, ‘I got a chance to learn the other half of Orlando in industries like technology, simulation, health science and aerospace.” Thomas’ position with Orlando Inc. has put him in the middle of the international completion to bring the World Chambers of Congress to Orlando.

SHOUTING THE SECRET

“Having spent the last five years here and now in my role with Orlando Inc., I believe the region is one of the best kept secrets in the world. That is funny to say because Orlando enjoys 66 million visitors annually. We’re at the crossroads of the world, perfectly placed in a growing vibrant region of the country, on a great latitude, and ideally situated between Europe and South America. Being the potential site of the World Chambers of Congress and the American Chambers of Commerce Executives convention in 2019 is an amazing opportunity to showcase the whole portfolio of what Orlando and the region have to offer.”

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