Orlando's Future Trajectory
“How do we keep the trajectory moving?”
That question comes from Tim Giuliani, president and CEO of the Orlando Economic Partnership, who quickly answers it for himself: “For us to keep on this current path, we’ll have to really double down on our efforts or else we’ll just fall behind, because the changes will come too fast.”
His explanation, simply, involves competition. “Every other city in America is trying desperately to compete for the same jobs and improve their communities, as well,” Giuliani reasons. “So, it’s very easy to get hung up on we’re No. 1 on this list. We’ve upped our game, and I think there are a lot of positive things happening in our region. But every other city in America is trying to do the same exact thing.”
Indeed, while the Orlando region certainly has opportunities, there also are challenges.
The area is among the nation’s fastest-growing in population and jobs. That isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Yet, can the region meet the future demands both from residents and employers?
For one, new Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, formerly the Orange County sheriff, says, “it’s been a bit of a challenge” in the recent past to manage such factors as transportation, sprawl and safety. Also near the top of his agenda is an investment in youth and low-income communities. His question: “How do we expose that segment to its full potential? … Everyone must have a seat at the table.”
There are other areas where challenges lie ahead.
Orange County’s Creative Village project offers huge potential as a public-private partnership of major players. Will its reality measure up?
In Osceola County, BRIDG debuted in 2017 with established industry partnerships and great fanfare at the newly christened NeoCity. As Osceola looks to leverage high-tech entrepreneurship to broaden its economic base, success depends greatly on those nascent endeavors.
In a couple years, if you haven’t heard of Parkside Place rising in Seminole County — and you probably will have — that could spell troubling news. Amid continued growth, there still remains a search of long-term economic footing.
Similarly, if the expansive I-4 Ultimate project isn’t significantly closer to completion by, say, 2021 — at least somewhat close — opportunity will have turned into a challenge.
George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando, doesn’t think such disappointment will occur. Given the magnitude of his industry, Aguel has perhaps as much to lose regionally as anyone. He doesn’t think it will happen, citing what just might be the region’s greatest strength: collaboration.
Aguel’s parting message: “I just don’t find anybody who just says ‘no.’ They’re always going to say, ‘Let me think about how to figure something out with you.’ That’s the interesting constant that I find very prominent. It’s basically more of a can-do than a can’t-do.”