Economic Yearbook 2005 - Central Florida
High-wage digital media jobs.
Although Orlando lost a big-money bid last year for the California-based Scripps Research Institute, which is developing a satellite facility in West Palm Beach instead, Central Florida is succeeding at luring other high-wage employers -- so much so that the region's average annual pay rate is increasing, says Ray Gilley, president of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, which represents Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties.
For several years, Orlando has been building a reputation as the world center for digital media, which the EDC describes as a $9-billion-a-year, four-pillar industry: Film and TV production, interactive entertainment, simulation and theme park entertainment. That and the life sciences industry will continue to grow in the next three to five years, Gilley says, making the area a leader in cutting-edge technology and solutions.
"We think metro Orlando is well-positioned to be hosting these kinds of things," Gilley says. "Hopefully that's a good foundation to build on. In trying to define this community ... we're creating a really unique environment."
The challenge now, he says, is to accommodate the growth. With new residents come new issues, from impact fees to facilities to schools, roads and traffic.
NEW COMPANIESCuraScript Pharmacy moved into an 80,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in Orlando in February 2004. The specialty pharmacy services company was acquired in January 2004 by Express Scripts, a publicly traded pharmacy benefit manager. CuraScript employs almost 600 and operates six satellite offices nationwide.
CyTerra Corp., a manufacturer of handheld landmine detection equipment, recently relocated its corporate headquarters to Orlando, creating 75 jobs with an annual salary of $60,000.
Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez, the first stateside campus of the private university from Puerto Rico, opened a 26,763-sq.-ft. facility in Orange County, creating 26 jobs that pay about $46,000 annually. The school plans to expand beyond its 220 students.
Vaccine research and development firm VaxDesign opened in Orange County last year with 39 high-wage jobs.
Lowe's opened a regional distribution center in Osceola County in October and is operating with 600 employees.
EXPANSIONSIn what community leaders call "the signature project for this year," video game maker Electronic Arts in Maitland, just north of Orlando, now employs 300 and plans to more than double that number by 2010 with an average salary of $79,000. The jobs are so specialized that the EDC is working with the University of Central Florida to create the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, a special downtown campus with a master's-level type of curriculum.
G&T Conveyor in Lake County, which manufactures airline baggage handling systems, now employs more than 600, including 330 at the Tavares headquarters it expanded in 2003 for $4.5 million.
Bailey Industries added 57,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space last year to its Leesburg headquarters, where it makes custom wood and marble cabinets. It employs 250 and is creating 237 new jobs.
National specialty pharmaceutical company Priority Healthcare Corp. has expanded into Lake Mary and now employs 414 and plans to create 456 new jobs by 2010 with salaries of more than $50,000.
Software product and training developer Dynetech Corp. plans to construct a 27-story building in downtown Orlando by the end of 2006 and expand its staff from the current 325 to 600.
Axium Healthcare Pharmacy, based in Seminole County, provides specialty pharmacy services and employs 80 people at its new 45,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in Lake Mary. The company opened a Natural Hormone Therapy division last year.
In 2003-04, 37 area projects created or saved 4,472 jobs, made $179.6 million in capital investment and leased or purchased almost 1.6 million square feet of space.65% of the growth came from expansion of existing projects, while 35% was from employers new to the market.
Of the existing projects, 43% were tech companies that created jobs with average salaries exceeding $62,000.
Average salary of jobs created or saved: $49,774 -- more than 50% higher than the regional average.
Central Florida's job growth for the next five years will be the third-fastest in the country behind Las Vegas and Austin, Texas, according to Boston-based Torto Wheaton Research.
The region has the strongest economy in the state and is the 21st strongest of 361 metro areas nationwide, according to Policom Corp. of Palm City.Source: Metro Orlando EDC
About $2 billion worth of construction in the works is significantly changing the downtown skyline, adding commercial, residential and soon retail space. "I've never in my 20-year history here seen so much investment," says Tanja Gerhartz, deputy director of Orlando's Economic Development Department. The city has approved residential units that will bring 10,000 people downtown..
Hot trend to watch: Office condos, which are selling out fast in downtown skyscrapers, mostly to small businesses...
Florida Hospital starts construction this fall on a $258-million, 15-floor tower that will double its emergency room capacity and add a Cardiovascular Institute by 2008..
JetBlue Airways has invested $160 million to open a maintenance hangar and a training facility at Orlando International Airport this year, creating about 150 jobs with an average salary of $60,000...
Talks to keep the Orlando Magic in town have shifted from building a new arena to upgrading the TD Waterhouse Centre.
Notable Names: As CEO, Clarence Otis Jr. runs Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, owner of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Smokey Bones BBQ and Seasons 52. The $5-billion company employs 141,000...
David Hughes, chairman of one of the nation's largest wholesale distributors of construction materials, Hughes Supply, runs a company that has offices in 38 states, employs about 9,000 and has annual revenue of $4 billion. Hughes is expected to make some big announcements this year...
CNL Financial Group, a real estate, investment and financial services company worth more than $100 million, employs 1,000 and is building a second and third office tower next to City Hall.
East Orange County between the University of Central Florida and Orlando International Airport is becoming a hot spot for development. Developer Beat Kahli continues building residential and retail there and expects his Avalon Park community to eventually have 15,000 residents...
County Mayor Rich Crotty is pushing for a road extension from International Corporate Park to UCF, which is expecting 44,000 students this fall...
Meanwhile, as the county continues seeking high-tech firms to bring jobs to the area, it's courting possible new manufacturing facilities and some spinoffs from the Scripps research project in West Palm Beach...
With all the new development, the county is balancing issues of growth management, environmental issues and economics, says George Rodon, the county's director of economic development and tourism.
In the 15 years since AAA built its headquarters in what was then the middle of nowhere, Lake Mary has become a high-tech corridor and is continuing to attract businesses with high-paying jobs. The average salary has risen from $22,000 to $78,000, says Diane Parker, president and CEO of the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce...
The area is continuing to be proactive about economic development, finding the right businesses to come to the area and using a smart growth concept...
The demand for Class A office space has exceeded expectations as small and medium-sized businesses seek facilities for new or expanded professional and medical ventures.
The 2,600 acres encompassing and surrounding Orlando Sanford International Airport remain ripe for development, says Diane Parker, president and CEO of the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce. The adjacent industrial park has more than 90 tenants and is at 95% occupancy, but 180 of its 395 acres are still undeveloped...
The city is seeing an explosion in the demand for residential development, says Russ Gibson, Sanford's director of planning and development services. About 2,200 single-family residential lots have been approved and are under development, another 450 are in the engineering review process, and developers have approached the city about an additional 3,000-plus units. Most of these are for homes worth?$200,000 or more...
In Sanford's first development under the state's regional activity center designation, Cincinnati-based North American Properties' Atlanta office just opened an anchor SuperTarget at a power center on 62 acres adjacent to Sanford Towne Center Mall. MarketPlace at Seminole Towne Center will open in early June and is expected to add 800 to 1,000?jobs.
Notable Names: Florida Extruders employs 700 at its 650,000-sq.-ft. facility. The company produced windows and doors for more than 30,000 new homes in Florida last year, according to owner Joel Lehman. The manufacturer started out in 1989 with 16 employees...
XOS Technologies, which provides technology used by more than 600 professional and college sports teams and leagues, has bought its competitor, Pinnacle Team Sports, and now employs about 115, including 65 based in the company's Sanford headquarters. Owned by Dan Aton, XOS offers coaching tools and other products for sports, including football, basketball, hockey, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball and lacrosse.
With the popularity of 1-year-old Colonial TownPark in Lake Mary, two other "town center" developments are under way that include entertainment, restaurants, retail, residential and office space: Altamonte Town Center off Interstate 4 and State Road 436, a 25-acre, 1.5 million-sq.-ft. master-planned community being built by Atlanta-based investors Altamonte Springs Investments LLC that includes luxury condos and hotel rooms along Crane's Roost Lake behind the existing Altamonte Mall; and Winter Springs Town Center, which the James Doran Co. of Charleston, S.C., is building at State Road 434 and Tuskawilla Road that will feature a Publix grocery and more than 300,000 square feet of office and retail space...
Seminole County is growing so rapidly that leaders now predict it will be built out in just 10 years, says Diane Parker, president and CEO of the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce...
Enhancing the area's reputation for focusing on education, Seminole Community College is carving out an innovative agreement with University of Central Florida that will allow students to get a full bachelor's degree at SCC.
KISSIMMEE & Osceola County
Notable Name: The community is abuzz about a national anglers association, publisher and subsidiary of ESPN that ramps up its new headquarters in Celebration this year after moving from Montgomery, Ala., according to the county's economic development department. BASS will bring 120 jobs in its first three years that pay twice as much as the county's average salary. It's also expected to boost the number of non-Florida anglers visiting, which is now about 1 million a year.
The concentration of small businesses has insulated the county from high unemployment rates, says Greg Mihalic, Lake's director of economic development and tourism. Still, the county is trying to lure major employers because 25% of residents still commute to work in Orlando and other areas...
Major remodeling has been completed on four hospitals, and new surgical centers and medical buildings are continuing to open...
The face of residential real estate is changing as Lake sees more million-dollar homes built. "I think you'll see more upper-end housing throughout the county," Mihalic says. The most expensive homes used to come with 20 to 40 acres, and now they're in luxury subdivisions.
Notable Names: Senninger Irrigation, in business in Clermont since 1963, has consolidated its operation into a new 100,000-sq.-ft. facility along State Road 50...
Ferraro Foods, a New Jersey-based distributor of specialty foods for restaurants and pizzerias, has opened a 127,000-sq.-ft. distribution center at the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park in Groveland. Eight other businesses are building 600,000 square feet of operations there as well.
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