Jim Thomas is a native of California and 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.
Thomas says he loves his hometown but was looking for an “up and coming” city that had great people, prosperity, and potential. He traveled from the Northwest to the Northeast. He visited Denver and Boulder, Austin and Miami. Along the way he also had the opportunity to visit Orlando.
Unfortunately, during that trip he says he really only saw the airport, a small section of I-4 and the amusement parks. “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 Metro EDC would say, ‘I got a chance to learn the other half of Orlando.’ I found that in addition to great weather and entertainment, Orlando has an amazing food scene and is a leader in industries like, technology, health science, and aerospace.
“Having spent the last five years here I now believe Orlando is one of the best kept secrets in the world. That is funny to say because Orlando is the most popular region in the entire country, with visitors in excess now of 62 million people annually.
My guess is that many of those visitors don’t get the opportunity to venture far from the convention center or the parks. I believe Orlando is the crossroads of the world, perfectly placed in growing a vibrant region of the country, on a great latitude, and ideally situated between Europe and South America. To say Orlando has it all is an understatement. The future is bright and gets brighter by the day.”
This past year leaders from the community gathered to discuss the possibility of forming a new organization that would help attract more entrepreneurs to Orlando, tell the story of those who are already here, and attract additional capital investment to the region. That new organization is Orlando TREP of which Thomas is now the executive director.