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The U.S. economy is widely believed to be gaining traction and emerging from its long, subpar expansion.

Orlando’s Economic Outlook for 2015

The U.S. economy is widely believed to be gaining traction and emerging from its long, subpar expansion. Private payrolls have generally outperformed expectations through 2014. At the state level, Florida is showing significant positive signs; year-over-year payroll gains are far outpacing the national average and growth is proving broad-based.

Orlando remains one of the country’s best-performing regional economies. Formerly dependent on a vibrant tourism sector, the recovery has evolved and almost all major industries are gaining jobs. Critically, notable strength is being shown in non-traditional sectors such as business services and manufacturing. The region has contributed approximately 25 percent of the state’s total net job creation in each sector.

In November 2014, Forbes ranked Orlando as the No. 1 city for job growth year-to-date for 2014, more than twice the national average. In year-over-year employment growth, Orlando is second only to oil-fueled Houston among Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with an employment base of over one million jobs.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) enjoyed a successful 2014, making significant progress on several fronts. Most notably, the EDC worked with more than 60 percent of companies who were new-to-market (who typically pay higher wages) – compared to only 40 percent of companies over the prior decade. In total, the EDC worked with companies who projected to create up to 2,257 announced new-to-market jobs, the organization’s highest attainment in more than a decade.

The organization also recorded its highest wage attainment level on record, at 136 percent of the regional average wage or 110 percent of stated goal. Capital investment likewise was at its highest level since prior to the recession, exceeding goal by approximately $174 million.


Mission Defined, Mission Accomplished

With a mission to aggressively attract, retain and grow jobs for the Orlando region, the EDC is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership serving Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties and the City of Orlando.

The EDC actively pursues strategic projects and initiatives designed and intended to improve the region’s long-term competitive position and economic growth potential. Each initiative enjoys broad business and community leader support and has been determined to be key to the future economic well-being of the region.

The ability to execute and capitalize on promoting successful projects in the region is evidenced by recent high-profile EDC announcements such as Deloitte Consulting, Verizon Communications and the United States Tennis Association (USTA), among others.

Support for regional branding, the higher wage recruitment and mission critical strategic jobs initiatives has enabled the EDC to establish a strong financial base, a growing stakeholder/investor network and an organizational platform that is well-positioned for growth and success.

During the year, the EDC will focus time, energy and resources in these key priority areas:


Branding and Business Development

• Launch and execute a business branding campaign “Orlando. You Don’t Know the Half of It.” Thereby increasing consideration of Orlando as a business location.

• Build on current capability and proficiency to seize and convert new higher wage opportunities.

• Implement a focused high-profile, high-impact corporate recruitment initiative.

• Launch the Orlando Economic Forum to provide accurate, timely decision-quality economic data.


Strategic Jobs Initiatives

• Secure funding to fully support the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) in Osceola County.

• Secure year-two funding to mitigate real estate challenges to protect the region’s robust Modeling, Simulation and Training (MS&T) sector against Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) impacts.

• Replenish funding for the state’s film and entertainment incentive program, a critical component of the film and digital media industry.


During 2015, the EDC will work to sustain the momentum and build upon the successes of the past several years by employing a simple and straightforward formula: Clear strategy, effective execution, measureable and meaningful results, and an organizational framework of partnership and collaboration.


Orlando. You Don’t know The Half Of It

Orlando has earned a stellar reputation in tourism, yet the region’s diversified business economy is often overlooked. Research has shown that Orlando is seriously considered as a business location by decision makers only one-third of the time. The other times, Orlando is quickly dismissed or not considered at all as a strategic business location.

Therefore, a regional branding campaign was designed to get Orlando onto the short list more often and secure a competitive position in business. The campaign “Orlando. You Don’t Know the Half of It.” provokes inquiry to want to learn more about the region.

The audiences for the campaign include corporate executives and site location consultants who make strategic business location decisions as well as local business leaders and residents who can serve as brand ambassadors for the region.

As part of the campaign, the EDC will build upon its successes, including such notable wins as the Deloitte Consulting and Verizon Communications projects from this past year. The EDC will do this through an aggressive national and international media relations and social media program to tout success stories from the region designed to target business decision makers and site location consultants as well as local constituencies. The campaign will include a mixture of paid media, earned media, direct contact, in-kind opportunities and promotions/events.

To learn more, visit OrlandoEDC.com.


Rick Weddle copyRick L. Weddle is the president and CEO of the Orlando Economic Development Commission. His economic development experience spans 30 years and includes stints in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina; Greater Phoenix Economic Council; Toledo, Ohio; Stockton, Calif.; Winston-Salem, N.C. and more.



This article appears in the January 2015 issue of i4 Business.
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