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From the Editor

Let Central Florida Give You a Warm Hug

(December 2019) – I’ve lived all over Central Florida for almost 35 years now, and I still love looking at the region through other people’s eyes as if I’m arriving here for the first time. It amazes me when I hear people talk about their experience moving here and how they felt the community embrace them.

During interviews this year, we’ve asked many Central Florida  leaders  what  they  love  about  living  and  working  here.  One  by  one,  they’ve  painted  a  picture  of  Central  Florida.  These  words  are  unique  to  our  community.  They  define  why  we  are  successful  in  competing  for  vacation  visitors,  conventions,  sporting  events,  concerts,  plays,  airline routes, corporate relocations, grant dollars, state and federal funding, venture capital and so many other important elements that make up our dynamic community.

We haven’t been able to fit all of these descriptions into the magazine, so we thought you’d appreciate hearing them directly from the speakers:

Thad Seymour Jr., interim president of the University of  Central  Florida:  “We  moved  here  28  years  ago  from  Chicago, where we had been 10 years. We figured we’d be here two or three years, and we never left. We raised our kids here. There are a bunch of things we’ve come to love about  this  place,  but  a  lot  of  it  is  this  sense  of  optimism.  There’s  a  forward  momentum  here.  There’s  a  spirit  of  collaboration, which a lot of people talk about, and it’s true.”

From  Daryl  Tol,  CEO  of  the  AdventHealth  Central  Florida  Division:  “It’s  been  an  easy  community  to  be  an  active  part  of.  I’ve  always  felt  embraced  here….It’s  remarkable how in Central Florida, we gather together to make a difference….It’s really a warm community.”

From George Aguel, CEO of Visit Orlando: “We have a culture  here.  Many  people  who  lead  businesses  and  lead  our community here were at one time part of the tourism industry…. They  get  the  value  of  hospitality  and  have  developed a service mentality. Wherever you go, people are genuine, friendly, inviting, embracing and want to help. They want to be there to give you a great experience.”

From  Alyse  Quinn,  co-founder  of  Big  Vision: “Having lived  in  other  large  cities,  I  have  never  experienced  a  community  like  the  one  here  in  Orlando.  We  love  the  creative community here. I feel like we’re on the cusp of big things, and I can feel this wave coming over Orlando building this creative momentum.”

Sheena  Fowler,  Orlando  Economic  Partnership  vice  president of innovation and Orlando film commissioner: “Orlando is home to dreamers and doers, and this is ever-present  in  the  residents  who  create  the  innovation  that  powers our economy….This kind of creativity is contagious and  is  palpable  throughout  the  community,  continuously  inspiring new ways of doing and seeing things.”

Dr.  Anette  Khaled,  UCF  professor  and  cancer  specialist: “There is an energy in this area. Everyone is so entrepreneurial, so willing to take risks and try something new. People may often be very skeptical of new discoveries, but here I’ve found they are more willing to try new things — and that’s how we’re going to advance.”

From Jason Siegel, CEO of the Greater Orlando Sports Commission:  “There’s  an  intense  level  of  optimism….Take a look at our skyline, the infrastructure changes, the airport, I-4, the downtown campus, the investment in sports…There’s a lot to be proud of, and it gives us a lot to sell our community on when we’re out trying to win opportunities for the region.”

Chester Kennedy, CEO of BRIDG: “I tell folks from outside the  area  all  the  time,  I  challenge  you  to  find  a  hundred-mile  stretch  anywhere  in  the  world  where  there  is  more  happening than there is across the I-4 corridor right now from a technology standpoint.”

So when you’re traveling to other parts of the state, nation, world and universe in the coming weeks and months, be sure to spread the word. Central Florida is a great place to visit, yes, and it’s also the best place to live.

About the author

Diane Sears

A career journalist, author and advocate for business growth, Diane Sears is the CEO, editor and publisher of i4 Business. She is also the founder and president of DiVerse Media LLC, which has handled content marketing projects including nonfiction books, white papers, executive speeches and scripts since 2000. She is co-founder of the nonprofit Go for the Greens Foundation, which helps connect women-owned and minority-owned business owners with growth opportunities internationally.

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