From Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson
Last Friday, Orange County hosted the Economic Summit for 2018 at its very own Convention Center. The Summit was first launched in 2013 following a series of 9 economic and job summits designed to support the business community; the meetings were held between 2011 and 2012 and focused on key geographic regions and industries including but not limited to life sciences, clean technology, and international trade. Now in its sixth year, this annual event highlights the progress of the Central Florida Region’s economy as well as bring together businesses, expanding industries, and opportunities for economic growth. In addition, the Summit brings together various stakeholders both inside and outside of Orange County, including officials from other cities and counties and non-profit organizations.
The Summit opened with an hour of networking and breakfast for over 600 guests and participants. Once all of the guests had arrived, the opening remarks for the program were given by Fred Kittinger, the Senior Associate Vice President of University Relations and Director of State and Local Government Affairs at the University of Central Florida (UCF), who introduced Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. In her opening remarks, Mayor Jacobs highlighted Orange County’s strong success in promoting economic development and business, and how its success helps lead the nation in this arena. “By working together, we’re committed to creating a business infrastructure and economic climate that supports job creation, a flourishing creative class, and trained workforce, and that provides an opportunity for all,” Mayor Jacobs said.
Following the opening remarks, Dr. Sean Snaith, the director of UCF’s Institute of Economic Competitiveness, a nationally recognized economist, and a past summit participant, was introduced to give his annual economic forecast highlighting the state of the economy at the state and local level; according to Dr. Snaith, the state of Orange County’s economy is strong and robust. Dr. Snaith mentioned the following statistics pertaining to both the State and Orange County’s economic forecast: The population of Orange County grew closer to 1.4 million for 2017 and will continue to rise through 2021; the payroll employment for 2017 at the county level was over 800,000 and is expected to grow at a small rate reaching close to 1 million by 2021; construction employment for 2017 increased to a little over 40,000 at the county level, with the state increasing over 500,000 overall; leisure and hospitality employment increased to over 200,000 at the county level, and the state increased to over 1.2 million overall; professional and business employment in the county increased to a little over 150,000 for 2017, and the state increased to approximately 1.3 million overall; financial activities employment increased to over 50,000 in the county, and to over 560,000 throughout the state for 2017; education and health services employment increased closer to 100,000 in the county for 2017, and the state has an average annual growth percentage of 1.1 (2018-2021 averages); manufacturing employment remains at a little over 30,000 in the county for 2017 showing a small increase from last year, and the state has an average annual growth percentage of 1.3 (2018-2021 averages); information employment decreased by a small amount for 2017 but remains over 16,000 in the county, and the state has an average annual growth percentage of 1 (2018-2021 averages); state and local government employment decreased by a small amount in the county for 2017 but remains above 60,000, and the state has an average annual growth percentage of 1.4 (2018-2021 averages); and transportation, trade and utilities increased by a small amount remaining over 140,000 in the county for 2017, and the state has an average annual growth percentage of 1.4 (2018-2021 averages). “With a robust population and stronger job growth than other regions in the nation, the Orlando Metropolitan Statistical Area is well poised for continued economic growth,” Snaith said. The region’s flourishing economy and business infrastructure, in addition to the region’s diverse and talented workforce, continues to aid Orange County’s upward trajectory of economic growth and progress.
The Summit hosted a panel discussing funding and growing Central Florida’s tech enterprise sector. Moderated by Tim Giuliani, the President and Chief Executive Office for the Orlando Economic Partnership, the panel featured the following participants: Suneera Madhani, the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fattmerchant, a payment technology company specializing in saving businesses up to 40% on their credit card processing; Courtney Powell, the President and Owner of AceApplications, LLC, a technology solutions and staffing provider for entities; Shawn Seipler, CEO of Clean the World, an enterprise that offers sustainable, socially impactful programs to a global marketplace (with impact results in 118 countries); and Chris Whitlow, CEO of Edukate, Inc., a workplace financial wellness provider with the purpose to give every person access to expert financial guidance and help employers provide the best financial wellness benefits to help employees manage their financial stress, increase their productivity and live happier, healthier lives. Panelists provided an overview of the County’s growing technology ecosystem and highlighted the region’s burgeoning innovations in tech entrepreneurship.
Following the conclusion of the Summit, the County hosted the third Florida TechMatch, an event attended by invitation-only that gives local technology companies the chance to build relationships with national industry leaders. More than 80 companies ranging from start-ups to large enterprise organizations, such as Microsoft, Apple, and Universal Studios, registered for this event.