» Despite federal budget cuts and uncertainty over military spending, the defense industry’s growing reliance on combat simulators, battlefield electronics and high-tech warfare has kept Orlando’s simulation sector strong.
» Apartment construction is also holding steady. Multi-housing specialists with Collier’s International Central Florida project that the metro area will add about 2,500 units by the end of this year. Using job growth estimates from the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness, Collier’s forecasts that the region will absorb 2,700 units, enough to handle the new rentals and still tighten the vacancy rate from 5.8% to about 5%. Among individual markets, the new urban Baldwin Park community in east Orlando is posting strong price increases. Research firm Zillow predicts that Baldwin Park will be among the leading resale markets in Orlando this year, with prices projected to rise 8%. Other areas near downtown, such as College Park, also are forecast to do well.
» One sign of lingering weakness: Foreclosures. Metro Orlando had one of the sharpest increases in foreclosure filings in 2012, up more than 60%, according to RealtyTrac real estate research. The metro area ranked in the top 10 in home foreclosures nationally, although local resale prices finally edged up during the year. Many potential move-up buyers remain stuck with homes worth less than their mortgages.
Businesses to Watch
» SeaWorld Entertainment: The Orlando-based owner of SeaWorld, Busch Gardens in Tampa and other parks has filed for a $100-million initial public offering to become a publicly traded company. Potential buyers have shown interest in acquiring the company before it can become publicly traded.
» Siemens Energy: The Orlando company will invest $7 million to build a national training center near Orlando International Airport, where employees will be able to host and train safety inspectors for the growing number of wind-turbine generators throughout the country.
» Prime Therapeutics: Winner of a 2012 Governor’s Innovators in Business Award in the newcomer category, the pharmacy benefit management company opened a 55,000-sq.-ft. specialty pharmacy in Orlando, with 122 employees and plans to add 213 jobs during the next three years.
» Orlando Sentinel: The Tribune Co. newspaper is expected to be sold now that the parent company has reorganized and exited bankruptcy court.
» Lockheed Martin: The defense contractor leads the field of more than 100 companies in the Orlando area working in the simulation field, which accounts for more than 12,500 direct jobs in the metro region.
People to Watch
» George Aguel: The veteran Disney executive was selected by Visit Orlando’s board to succeed the late Gary Sain as president and CEO of the state’s largest travel promotion agency, formerly known as the Orlando-Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
» Jacob Stuart: The longtime leader of the Central Florida Partnership, who expanded its reach in recent years by creating layers of business lines, has retaken the lead in chamber-related groups following the departure of several top executives.
» George Kalogridis: The new president of Walt Disney World is a Disney veteran, starting as a busboy at the Contemporary Resort Hotel in the 1970s and working his way up to president of Disneyland in California.
» Jose Baez: The Orlando defense lawyer, who won an acquittal in the murder trial of Casey Anthony, merged his firm with Trial Pro, headed by attorney Piercy Stakelum.
|Orange Population: 1,212,701|
|Population Growth Rate (2009-13): 1.75%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $37,914|
|MSA||Dec. 2012||Dec. 2011||% Change||Jobless Rate|
|Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation|
|Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales|
|MSA||2013 Sales||1-Year Change||2013 Price||1-Year Change|
|Source: Florida Realtors|