Area leaders hope to use a 20-year transportation plan as a model of cooperation for the various governmental jurisdictions within the Orlando metropolitan area.
"A year from now, - The four-county central Florida region, with 11% of the population, added 35,494 jobs from 2002-03, 21% of all new jobs statewide.we could easily have a regional plan," says Joel Hass, chairman of myregion.org, a public-private partnership encompassing Orange, Seminole, Lake, Osceola, Polk, Brevard and Volusia counties.
The Mobility 20/20 plan pushed by Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty puts the most pressing transportation projects on a fast track, including an overhaul of I-4 that will take 10 years instead of the
35 originally planned. It also leaves a right of way for a future light rail corridor along I-4 and alleviates traffic by, for instance, diverting freight trains from crowded downtown streets.
Next up for myregion's team approach? Perhaps the healthcare insurance crisis, which Hass says is hitting central Florida hard because of soaring population among both very young and very old. Or the water supply. "We're trapped by our boundaries," Hass says. "It requires a whole new level of thought and new way of thinking."
ORLANDO & Orange County
KEY TREND: Trendy shopping districts that create a feeling of a small downtown are popping up all over Orlando and surrounding areas. Most controversial: Plans for a brick-walkway district at Colonial Drive (State Road 50) and Mills Avenue, where several populations are battling for identity, including Vietnamese entrepreneurs, gay-owned businesses, longtime mom-and-pop shops, antique stores and residents.
MAJOR DEVELOPMENT: A new Publix that breaks ground later this year will be the first business developed under Maitland's new vision for a pedestrian-friendly downtown, which is in the early planning stages. Beautification of a 1 1/2-mile strip along U.S. Highway 17-92 -- called Orlando Avenue within the city -- includes building a more visible three-story City Hall and public safety complexes, as well as streetscaping and new businesses to create a true downtown. "Right now if you drive down 17-92, it's very commercial and almost industrial looking," says Maitland spokeswoman Tonya Elliott. "This will create a nicer feel to our downtown."
BUSINESS TO WATCH:
Abandoned downtown Church Street Station will soon house two recording studios and an entertainment complex operated by Lou Pearlman, creator of teen-idol bands 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. In exchange for financial incentives from the city, Pearlman and co-owner Robert Kling will bring 500 jobs and hundreds of nighttime events to the two-block area to draw crowds that have left for Downtown Disney and Universal Studios' CityWalk. "It's bringing an energetic, creative industry to downtown Orlando," says Frank Billingsley, director of Orlando's downtown development and community redevelopment agency. Another perk, Billingsley says: Reopening of the 71,000-sq.-ft. presidential ballroom, which hosts larger meetings that have been lost to other venues outside of downtown in recent years.
PERSON TO WATCH: Former state Sen. Buddy Dyer was sworn in as Orlando's 32nd mayor in February after a landslide win in a runoff election against longtime advertising executive Pete Barr. Dyer replaces Glenda Hood, who cut short her third term to become Florida's secretary of state. The three-week runoff campaign turned contentious when Barr was accused of racist remarks by a city council member and several former employees. At the top of Dyer's agenda: Balancing a $14-million budget deficit discovered in December and revitalizing downtown.
KEY DEVELOPMENT: Land surrounding the 2,000-acre Orlando Sanford International Airport is opening up for more commercial and industrial development because of efforts by the county and the city of Sanford to improve highway access and install water and sewer lines. "You'll see this area pop in the next decade," says County Manager Kevin Grace. Next in line for improvements: The U.S. Highway 17-92 corridor that runs south from Sanford.
BUSINESS TO WATCH: Suncor Properties got Sanford's go-ahead this year for a $12-million plan to build seven acres of stores, offices, townhouses and condominiums along Lake Monroe, contributing to the city's downtown revitalization. Meanwhile, construction has started on Sanford's River Walk, a 12-foot-wide recreational trail costing $10.5 million for the first 1.2 miles, and talks are in the works for a hotel and county convention center complex in the area.
KEY TREND: In targeting light manufacturing, Osceola has seen one particular segment showing special interest in calling the county home: The plastics industry. Kitchenware giant Tupperware, with sales of $110 billion worldwide in 2002, has been based in Osceola for decades. Today it's joined by more than a half-dozen businesses, including Mercury Marine, Nursery Supplies and Gatorade.
BUSINESS TO WATCH: Lowe's recently announced it's opening a 1.3 million-sq.-ft. distribution center in the Poinciana Industrial Park. "It's 28 football fields under air," says Maria Grulich, director of Osceola County's economic development department. The complex is expected to open in late 2004 and bring 600 jobs to the area.
KEY TREND: Lake County took a major step earlier this year when it called a temporary halt to all new building requests to give the school district a chance to catch up. County Manager Bill Neron says he expects to see several joint planning agreements in place by year's end between the county, cities and the school board to coordinate growth, infrastructure and funding. "I think we're making some significant progress," he says. "The lines of communication have been opened up."
BUSINESS TO WATCH: When a $4.5-million expansion of the company's Tavares headquarters wraps up this month, G&T Conveyor will employ more than 500 in Lake County, up 50%, says Greg Mihalic, Lake's director of economic development and tourism. The company designs, manufactures, installs and maintains airline baggage handling systems worldwide.
POPULATION TOTALSAnnual Percentage ChangeCounty20022003'02-'03'98-'03'03-'08Lake229,094236,3593.75%2.61%1.95%Orange958,000980,1672.31%3.23%2.36%Osceola185,236189,7582.44%4.20%3.13%Seminole386,861394,7282.03%2.56%2.10%FLORIDA16,689,00216,977,8901.73%2.08%1.75%
JOB TOTALSAnnual Percentage ChangeCounty20022003'02-'03'98-'03'03-'08Lake67,57769,5092.86%2.19%2.34%Orange647,946673,1963.90%2.63%3.36%Osceola55,37457,8924.55%2.93%3.70%Seminole153,723159,5173.77%3.61%3.49%FLORIDA7,318,6977,488,0472.31%2.45%2.16%
POPULATION BY AGEYears of AgeCounty0-1415-1920-3940-6465+TOTALLake16.4%5.2%19.3%32.1%27.0%236,359Orange20.9%7.3%31.7%30.0%10.1%980,167Osceola21.5%7.2%27.3%32.1%11.9%189,758Seminole20.1%7.0%28.0%34.3%10.6%394,728FLORIDA18.5%6.5%25.4%32.0%17.6%16,977,890
PER CAPITA INCOMEPer Capita
Income 2003Source of IncomeCountyLaborPropertyTransferLake$26,30947.9%27.7%24.4%Orange$28,53872.7%14.7%12.6%Osceola$20,57368.0%14.0%18.0%Seminole$34,40576.3%13.9%9.8%FLORIDA$30,65460.2%23.7%16.1%
SOURCE: "Florida Long-Term Economic Forecast 2002," the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Florida. Data are estimates or projections. Population data include military stationed in Florida and inmates. Jobs data measure civilian, nonagricultural wage and salary positions. Property income includes rent, dividend and interest payments; transfer income includes retirement, veterans and unemployment benefits, Medicare, Medicaid and income assistance.