Like Texas, the State of Florida is seen as politically conservative, has a rapidly growing and diverse population, and has a rapidly growing and diverse labor force.
Their economy is booming. The city is number 2 in the country for job growth.
While people naturally think of theme parks when they think of Orlando, there is much more to the city and its economy. Orlando’s economy is diverse, with no economic sector constituting more than twenty percent of the economy. They have a burgeoning aerospace sector, and technology + innovation sector. There are more than 55,000 people working in advanced manufacturing.
Orlando has been named a future ready city. What does this mean? Their future ready master plan focuses on connectivity, energy, water, health & safety, materials, mobility, and placemaking.
Economic development in Orlando + Orange County is delivered through a very similar structure as here in Waco + McLennan County. The Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP) leads economic development and works closely with the City of Orlando, Orange County, and other strategic partners. Their work is regional in scope. The OEP is a respected and impactful organization. Like us, they have a public/private funding structure, and their work is informed by an economic development strategic plan. We will strive to understand their goals and strategies, and learn. This helps inform our economic development strategic plan and work.
The University of Central Florida has one of the largest research + technology parks in the country. We are interested in establishing a similar park, at a scale that makes sense for us. Importantly, OEP has recently introduced a new five-year strategic plan for innovation and technology, and the individual charged with leading and executing the plan will be joining us.
The University of Central Florida is working with government leaders and the private sector in developing Orlando’s Creative Village urban innovation district. We felt this vision and initiative warranted a deeper investigation given the City of Waco’s new downtown master/design plan, our higher education assets, physical location, and more.
The City of Waco is giving serious consideration to building a new performing arts center. This is why we visited the Mesa Arts Center last year during our leadership visit to Phoenix and are interested in getting a look at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando. We are told there is quite a story related to the journey leading to the realization of the center.
The University of Central Florida is active in the innovation + entrepreneurship space. We have consistently investigated these initiatives through our leadership visits.
The Orlando Economic Partnership has a Foundation and is a leader in the workforce and talent space. We would like to learn more about how they activate their Foundation, and their workforce and talent initiatives and partnerships. We hope this will inform how we utilize our Foundation going forward, as well as our newly launched workforce and talent initiative. Last year our visit to Phoenix and time spent with Phoenix Chamber Foundation leaders greatly informed how we are currently using our Foundation and positioning it for the future. It further affirmed the importance of the Chamber’s new workforce and talent initiative, efforts to establish a broad workforce + talent partnership as well as a comprehensive regional strategic plan, the importance of introducing a talent pipeline management system, and more. Orlando has one of the top five school districts in the nation for exemplary use of technology.
The Orlando Economic Partnership manages the non-partisan Central Florida Political Leadership Institute (PLI). The Chamber is interested in learning more about this initiative.
The committee also discussed the fact that UCF was now a member of the Big 12 Conference, and possible synergies. Baylor plays UCF on the gridiron on Saturday, September 30 and some folks may be interested in extending their stay to attend the football game.