Orlando: A Region United
With apologies to fans of college football experiencing poll fatigue, the Orlando region places at or near the top in numerous national rankings for economic vitality and quality of life. Many of those rankings are subjective, of course. Yet, there also is plenty of performance proof that measures up.
Among the highlights: The region leads the nation in job growth, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, adding more than 1,000 jobs per week across a broad base of industries. Notably, in 2017 the professional and business services industry (legal, accounting, computer systems design, management and administrative services) had the largest net gain with 13,200 new jobs, even outpacing the leisure and hospitality industry.
A few other notables from assorted polls: second fastest-growing city in 2017 by virtue of population, employment, wages and economic output; top-10 “American City of the Future” in 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014, with approximately $10 billion in transportation infrastructure in the queue; and No. 2 for “most competitive U.S. location for business.”
You can look all of them up, prominently displayed on the web by the Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP), the agency responsible to keeping all that activity humming.
Clearly, the region is a competitive force. Just seemingly not too competitive within its own borders. In this mapping of three sprawling counties — Orange, Osceola and Seminole — the region offers evidence of playing quite well together.
“Citizens don’t know where the lines are that were drawn a hundred years ago. So, the ability to pull people together to really address the issues and opportunities that we all face together is a much better approach than trying to do it all independently on a much smaller scale,” says Tim Giuliani, president and CEO of the OEP, which itself is emblematic of regional cooperation. The OEP was created in 2017 when the Central Florida Partnership and Orlando Economic Development Commission were merged into one organization.
In another example, a few years ago when the Orlando Economic Development Commission was brainstorming its regional branding campaign “Orlando: You don’t know the half of it” — which lauds business and not necessarily tourism — attractions’ executives nonetheless were in the middle of the ideation. The campaign has become an unqualified success, with Giuliani commenting, “It’s been a regional effort, not outside of tourism, but with tourism.”
Adds Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, “I can unequivocally say that we collaborate in the region better than anybody in the country. There’s great recognition in our region that it’s better if we do this together. Sometimes it’s easier if you do something by yourself, but it never turns out as great as it can be.”
Across the region, collaboration is a theme.