The Next Major Nexus
By Jim Thomas
With recent headlines in the media like:
- Orlando named top cost-friendly city for business
- Orlando population growth No. 1 among large regions
- Orlando among the best cities in U.S. for job satisfaction
- Orlando is No. 1 in the nation for job growth in 2015
It’s no wonder that Orlando has recently been named as Florida’s #1 boomtown.
For other traditional business and entrepreneurial hubs, it has been well documented that many are facing increased challenges these days. Areas like Silicon Valley, California, Manhattan, New York, and even Austin, Texas are experiencing problems with: Overly competitive talent wars, extremely high cost of living, traffic and congestion, and a declining quality of life.
Many, if not all of these issues, faced by those regions are not easily solved and some might argue that those ‘issues’ will continue to escalate.
Orlando’s geography and regional leadership that has positioned Central Florida to flourish now and for years to come
- A regional talent pool of 500,000 students within a 100-mile radius of the city.
- Over $15 billion in infrastructure projects currently underway.
- Orlando’s comparable cost of living index is well below that of other major cities.
- A world-class international airport has one of the lowest per ticket costs and flies nonstop to 175 destinations around the globe.
What Is Driving the Buzz?
Did I mention, Orlando is one of, if not the, most visited places in the world. 64 million foreign and domestic travelers visited in Orlando in 2015 alone. That number is estimated to grow to 100 million in the years ahead. In comparison, Paris, France had 32 million visitors and London, England had 30 million respectively over the same time period. This ever-increasing tourism revenue source will continue to fuel regional projects into the foreseeable future and beyond.
On the entertainment front, things keep getting better and better. As Universal and Disney continue to pour billions into upgrading and enhancing their world-renowned parks, downtown Orlando has done an amazing job to keep to pace. The Amway Arena, now only six years old, is considered to be one of the best of its kind on the planet. The newly constructed and beautiful Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center is one of only 35 Centers of its kind in the world. The newly constructed Citrus Bowl is hosting top tier concerts and events and is NFL ready. In addition Orlando City Soccer, the #2 most Googled soccer team in the world, is constructing a world-class stadium, which will debut in 2017. Those four venues alone make one of the greatest entertainment corridors on the planet.
Orlando has also transformed into a food destination. James Beard awards have been flying in recent years to numerous restaurants and chefs. Top-level global franchises now dot the region while the local scene and artisans have had fantastic growth. Areas such as Audubon Park and the Mills 50 district host numerous local hot spots including Pig Floyd’s and the Black Rooster Tacquiera.
Preparing For the Future
The region is forward-looking and is committed to staying ahead of the curve on multiple fronts. Community leaders over the past two years have come together through the Central Florida Partnership to convene task forces on two topics that will ensure the region’s future success.
The Central Florida Sources of Capital Task Force led by Mark Montgomery, President and CEO of Axium Healthcare come together to increase the financial capital and investment of the region and ensure future job growth and prosperity.
The community also launched Central Florida International Business Task Force led by Yolanda Londoño, Vice President of Global Social Responsibility for Tupperware Brands Corporation. This group’s work and report is focused on making Orlando, and Central Florida, an international hub for business and to open our arms to the global community as the international crossroads to the world.
To that extent, Orlando has already caught the attention of the international business community. The International Chamber of Commerce is considering bringing the World Chambers Congress to Orlando in 2019. This event, held every two years, brings together business leaders from over 120 countries around the world. Orlando is one of only three cities in North or South America, and the only U.S. city, being considered for the this distinct international honor.
Orlando has all the ingredients to be a true leader in the 21st century.