Central Florida is on the verge, I believe, of an economic surge whose impact compares to the launch of Disney World in the early ‘70s or manned space flight in the early ‘60s. Most of the reasons for this you know. Kennedy Space Center has thrown off the palls some prognosticators put over it when the shuttle program ended and is rising like a literal phoenix. Interest in Mars is getting traction, and commercial space efforts that include Blue Origin, SpaceX and OneWeb are capturing the world’s imagination.
NeoCity, the home of BRIDG in Osceola County, is one of the most audacious and visionary moves the region has seen since Tavistock laid out its plans for Lake Nona. This former cow pasture is now the home of Medical City, which includes the UCF Medical School, the VA hospital and Nemours, along with the recently completed USTA National Campus. NeoCity could be just as transformational.
The other encouraging trend is the rise of a growing entrepreneurial and startup culture in the region. From the efforts of GrowFL and the UCF Small Business Development Center and Business Incubation Program, the National Entrepreneur Center, Canvs, Groundswell and many organizations like the Orlando Tech Association, the synergy is growing. is represents a lot of fuel production that will only need a spark to unite. That spark is, of course, capital, and that is coming as well.
Momentum, however, is an extremely challenging thing to generate, and when it is lost or shifts against you, it is even more challenging to regain. Ask the Atlanta Falcons, who were up by 25 points in the third quarter of this year’s Super Bowl and ended up losing in overtime to the Patriots.
“People want to work together, and there is an ethos of desiring to raise all the boats in the harbor.”
Here are two things I believe will keep the momentum moving in our favor:
- Realize It’s No Accident — I am a proponent of a theological position called “intelligent design.” In other words, I do not think the reality we call ‘reality’ all happened because of an infinite number of extremely fortuitous coincidences. The odds against it are just too much for my tiny brain to calculate. How? I do not know. Disagree? Fine. My point is that we did not get to where we are from Kennedy Space Center, to Disney World, to Medical City or NeoCity, by accident. It was the result of vision, cooperation and a lot of very, very hard work, which means in order to keep us moving in that direction, it will not happen by accident either. It will continue to demand vision, cooperation and a lot of very, very hard work.
- Welcome Aboard — Peg Cornwell, the wife of Rollins College President Grant Cornwell, said about Central Florida recently, “Here everything is happening for the first time; it isn’t a remake like where I came from in New England. Because it is so new, the opportunities for engagement are unparalleled in my experience. People want to work together, and there is an ethos of desiring to raise all the boats in the harbor.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard sentiments like this from leaders across the spectrum of our diverse community. My theory is this results from hospitality being in our DNA … we are internationally famous for putting out the welcome mat.
The newness of our area (much of the Central Florida we know is less than 60 years old) and the fact it was largely born from the imagination of a young president and a creative genius who once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” can propel us to become one of the world’s model regions, as long as we stick together and welcome those who want to join the adventure.