There has been another series of mass shootings in America. This time at a grocery store in New York and an elementary school in Texas. That means there are more communities stunned with grief, much like ours was almost six years ago. Our Orlando community knows first-hand the burden and sorrow that comes with such a loss of life to needless violence. In two weeks, we will honor the lives and memories of the 49 innocents lost at Pulse Nightclub, the darkest day in our region’s recent history. While we know nothing can be done to bring back those who were taken from us, we’ve witnessed how a community can unite in love and support of those stricken with sorrow and rise to become stronger than ever. Our collective hearts go out to everyone impacted by these senseless tragedies. I hope you’ll join me in a moment of silence and reflection as we consider our path forward toward preventing this from happening again somewhere else in our great nation.
In this week’s Regional Perspective, we highlight the second-largest university in the nation’s mission to propel Broad-based Prosperity®, the more than 30 companies with an Orlando presence included on the Fortune 500 list, recognition by the United Nations for building a 21-century region, and more news you’ll want to share with your networks.
1)The University of Central Florida propels mission of Broad-based Prosperity® – After nearly a year of strategic planning, the second-largest university in the nation passed its new five-year strategic plan with a mission that includes propelling Broad-based Prosperity®. With this new strategic plan, UCF aspires to build the university of the future that unleashes the potential of students, faculty, staff and our community through inclusion, discovery and innovation. I had the honor of presenting to the UCF Board of Trustees in February on how to fuel existing and emerging cluster growth, level up our innovation ecosystem, invest in innovation districts and double down on strategic partnerships. These topics are reflected in UCF’s five areas of focus outlined in the plan. By harnessing the power of public-private partnerships and leveraging collaboration and input of our investors, we are confident UCF will become the nation’s leading metropolitan research university that will help to define the future of higher education while improving access to opportunity to all who call our region home. On behalf of the Partnership and Orlando region’s business community, I thank UCF’s leadership and Board of Trustees for their foresight. Learn more about how UCF is unleashing potential here.
2) 30 companies with an Orlando presence featured on Fortune 500 – The 2022 Fortune 500 was released this week, headlined by several firms that make up our region’s thriving innovation ecosystem. More than 30 firms with a major presence in the Orlando region were named to the top 500 including Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, Polk County-based Publix Supermarkets and Brevard County-based L3Harris Technologies. Each year we are ecstatic to see Orlando expand its presence on Fortune magazine’s list. As one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, Orlando will likely continue this trend as we continue to attract some of the world’s most innovative and dynamic companies while also facilitating the growth of those with a presence here already. The growth of these trailblazing companies is one of the many reasons Orlando is Unbelievably Real, fuels our region’s economic momentum and supports our mission of advancing Broad-based Prosperity®. See the full rankings here.
3) World Cup host city announcement draws near – FIFA is preparing to make a highly anticipated announcement regarding FIFA World Cup 2026 host cities on Thursday, June 16, a decision that is four years in the making. In July 2018, it was revealed that the 48-team tournament will take place across North America, with matches in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Over the past year, a FIFA delegation conducted visits to 22 cities across the continent vying to host matches in 2026, including Atlanta, Miami, Denver and Orlando. Since that official site visit, partners from across the region have come together to advocate for Orlando hosting World Cup matches in 2026. Since last hosting the FIFA World Cup in 1994, Orlando has become a national epicenter for soccer, securing an MLS team in 2013, a NWSL team in 2015, hosting the Florida Cup, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams matches. With a potential economic impact of $800 million for our region, the World Cup’s return to Orlando is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to catalyze tremendous growth and further entrench Orlando as one of the world’s premier sports destinations. Learn more about Orlando’s 2026 Host City Bid here.
4) Terminal C and Memorial Day travel updates – When Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) Terminal C opens later this year, it will feature a combination of local flavors, national brands and engaging shopping experiences that highlight the eclectic offerings of the Orlando region. With more than 24 food and beverage options located throughout, Terminal C will expand the reach of local brands including Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co., Cask & Larder, Orange County Brewers and Olde Hearth Bread Co., just to name a few. Plus, an all-new City Arts Market will bring the Orlando art scene to the traveling public by featuring products created by local artists. Terminal C’s increased capacity can’t come soon enough as nearly 800,000 passengers are anticipated to pass through MCO during the six-day Memorial Day holiday travel period. That represents an 11 percent increase over Memorial Day 2021 and is only 10,000 departures short of 2019 pre-pandemic highs, clearly signaling our region’s progress toward full tourism recovery.
5) North America’s top collegiate programmers to compete in Orlando – This weekend, 50 universities from across North America will compete at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in the continent’s premier programming competition. The 2022 North America Championship of the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) will see UCF, which was among the winners of the Southeast USA Regional Programming Contest in March, faceoff against teams from elite colleges including MIT, Harvard, Georgia Tech and Purdue. Only the top 16 teams will advance to World Finals, which will be held in 2023. Big-name sponsors including the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), TechGrove and UCF are supporting this year’s competition, which will also likely see recruiters from big tech companies in attendance seeking out elite programmers. For more than 40 years, UCF has been among the best in the nation in ICPC competitions, and, in 2018, ranked No. 1 in North America and No. 10 in the world. A UCF team has qualified for the World Finals every year during the past decade. Our region’s density of young, high-skilled talent is #UnbelievablyReal and continues to be one of the main drivers of our growing economy. It’s also the largest draw for innovative companies expanding to our region. Best of luck to all teams competing – especially UCF’s Team Iris! Learn more here.
6) New funding fuels sustainability in our education ecosystem – While visiting Valencia College’s Poinciana Campus last week, Congressman Darren Soto announced the college will receive $500,000 in federal funding to develop a solar energy system. The funding will transition the campus from running almost exclusively on fossil fuels to being powered 40 percent by solar power. Valencia’s Poinciana Campus was built in 2017 with the ability to support the future installation of a photovoltaic (PV) solar energy system. Now, Valencia can begin the process of diversifying Poinciana’s energy sources. As one of the first steps in Valencia’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, the college’s solar energy project will transform its Poinciana Campus into an environmental showcase for both the Orlando region and colleges across the nation. We thank Congressman Soto and Valencia College President Dr. Plinske for their continued partnership and leadership within the Orlando region. Their efforts toward ensuring a sustainable future for our region’s community is one of the many reasons Orlando is Unbelievably Real. Learn more here.
7) High frequency economic indicator update – According to the latest data released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Orlando region’s economy remained stable with no major changes over the last month. The regional labor force increased less than one percent month-over-month and the Orlando MSA gained 1,000 jobs from March to April, with leisure and hospitality leading the way with 379 jobs. Our region saw a 9.3 percent month-over-month decline in active job postings, a signal that could suggest companies are having an easier time filling open vacancies. Orlando’s job growth outperformed the nation in six sectors including transportation, warehousing and utilities, financial activities, manufacturing and education and health services. Dig deeper into the data here.
8) Orlando recognized by United Nations for building a 21-century city – Our partners at the City of Orlando are making incredible strides toward achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), according to a recent United Nations Foundation publication . The City of Orlando developed initiatives in line with the UN’s SDG Agenda through an intersectional framework aimed at addressing several complex issues, from air quality to at-risk adolescents and neighborhood revitalization. The article highlights Orlando programs like Black Bee Honey, which allows students from the Parramore and Holden Heights communities to work at the city-owned apiary on top of Orlando’s Fire Station 1. The program gives teens from historically excluded communities job opportunities while connecting each community with nature and supporting local food production. By embedding both sustainability and equity in its programs and operations, the City of Orlando is able to tackle shared issues, diversify our economy and build a 21st-century city. Work of this sort by community partners is vital to addressing our region’s challenges and expanding equitable access and opportunity throughout the Orlando region.
9) Preparing your family and business for hurricane season – Florida’s two-week hurricane sales-tax holiday starts Saturday, which is the best time for you, your family and your business to stockpile supplies for the upcoming hurricane season, which begins next week on June 1. This year, for the first time ever, many types of pet supplies are included in the tax holiday in addition to smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, carbon-monoxide detectors and generators. With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasting a seventh consecutive above-average Atlantic hurricane season, it’s important to take steps now to protect your business and property by making a plan to ensure you are ready for any potential storm. Resources and information on business disaster preparedness can be found here.
Celebrating New, Upgraded and Renewing Investors
Please join me in recognizing Partnership investors that recently renewed or joined our mission to advance Broad-based Prosperity®. Their engagement helps us to improve the region’s competitiveness while responding to the needs of communities, residents and businesses.
If you are interested in joining the Orlando Economic Partnership or becoming a sponsor of our regional efforts, please click here to review available opportunities.
Programs & Events
Critical Conversations: Celebrating Freedom and Advancing DEI in the Orlando Region presented by Florida Blue // June 16 // Register Today
Orlando Economic Partnership 2022 Annual Dinner featuring the James B. Greene Award // September 27 // Save the Date
How this 34-year-old CEO beat self-doubt to build a $1 billion start-up: ‘I was the last person to bet on me’ – CNBC
How location decisions impact diversity & inclusion – Industry Today
Florida e-commerce businesses have delivery option with Veho now in state – ModernShipper
The biggest problem with flying cars is on the ground – The Wall Street Journal
High-tech fitness lab at Full Sail opens up research and jobs pipeline with startup Echelon – Orlando Inno
New StarterStudio CEO Dawn Haynes aims to give Orlando entrepreneurs the help she wasn’t able to get – Orlando Inno
Watch why Luminar thinks you’d have to be a dummy to cross in front of a moving Tesla – Orlando Business Journal/Silicon Valley Business Journal
LeAD sports tech accelerator brings startups from the Netherlands and New York to Orlando’s Lake Nona – Orlando Inno
United Arts fundraising campaign raises most money ever – Orlando Sentinel
Lynx to consider sites for additional Orlando operations center – Orlando Business Journal
Walmart drones set to deliver 10-pound orders in Orlando later this year – Orlando Sentinel
EA seeks Orlando workers for college football video game. Here’s who it’s hiring – Orlando Business Journal
Thousands in Central Florida are eligible for cheaper internet bills. Here’s how – Orlando Sentinel
Tech job postings are booming in Orlando, but some worry a national slowdown is coming – Orlando Inno