When the Burnham Institute for Medical Research broke the news in August that it will build a research facility in Orlando, local leaders called the event the most significant announcement since Walt Disney shared his plans for a theme park in central Florida 41 years ago this month.
The biotech research facility is expected to help spur the growth of a medical community in southeast Orlando that will have as many residents in 25 years as today's Winter Park and Maitland populations combined.
More importantly, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says, the spinoff development is expected to increase central Florida's high-tech, high-wage jobs by 2030 to a number comparable to today's tourism workforce.
"This hasn't happened haphazardly," says Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. "People have been sitting in their cubicles for decades trying to get this done."
The Burnham site, which will employ about 300, will be part of the 7,000-acre Lake Nona community south of State Road 528 and east of Orlando International Airport. Lake Nona also is slated to house a new University of Central Florida medical school in 2009, a University of Florida research team and possibly a U.S. Veterans Administration hospital. Lake Nona's owner, Tavistock Group, is said to be pushing for a regional hospital there as well.
The development will be part of a larger area of eastern Orange County dubbed by county Mayor Rich Crotty as Innovation Way, where technology companies are eventually expected to link UCF and the airport.
The southeast is projected as the largest growth area within the city limits, says Paul Lewis, a senior planner in the city's economic development department. It's expected to increase from about 16,400 residents in 2005 to more than 68,839 by 2030 -- a 320% jump. The influx of new residents will boost Orlando's population 42% from 217,567 in 2005 to 307,971 in 2030.