From the Orange County Government website:
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs delivered the 2016 State of the County address at the Hyatt Regency Orlando last Friday.
With more than 750 in attendance, among them Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, Apopka City Commissioner Diane Velazquez and Orange County Commissioner and Vice Mayor Bryan Nelson. It was learned by The Apopka Voice that Apopka City Staff are preparing a report for Kilsheimer to deliver on The State of the City, although a date has not been set. Jacobs provided guests with an overview of Orange County’s economy, job growth, County finances and plans for Orange County’s quality of life.
HIGHLIGHTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Since 2010, 96,900 jobs have been created, which last year spurred the construction of 2,600 new homes catapulting Orange County’s 2015 building permit valuations to $1.9 billion, a 17 percent increase from the prior year, without any property tax hikes, millage rate increases or cuts to County services. For the third year in a row, countywide property tax revenues are up, with more than $386 million generated in 2015.
On a national scale, Gallup ranked the metro Orlando region No. 1 in the nation for job creation in 2015. Additionally, KPMG named the region as the second-most cost-competitive community in the U.S. for business.
ORANGE CODE AND OCFL ATLAS
Since taking office in 2011, one of Mayor Jacobs’ priorities has been to work toward a sustainable future and streamline the County's development review processes to make it more transparent, efficient and predictable. A first step was to become more responsive to customer needs in development permitting by establishing "One-Stop." Mayor Jacobs also created the Regulatory Streamlining Task Force to evaluate the County's development review processes and embarked on the County's first Sustainable Orange County Plan.
Known as Orange Code, the new code process announced at the State of the County, represents a simplified and sustainable way to govern how land is developed. Through this new approach Orange County is striving to create inviting places, spaces, and neighborhoods, each with a distinct feeling. Whether it’s neighborhoods with quaint restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance, or more developed areas, Orange Code will give us the tools to achieve these unique places. As Orange County moves to this new platform, we’ve selected I-Drive as the perfect place to roll out Orange Code.
ENHANCING ORANGE COUNTY’S ECONOMY
As the Convention Center enters its third year of a $187 million dollar capital investment project, Orange County continues to invest in fresh, high-tech meeting spaces and the amenities. The Orange County Convention Center propels a significant economic engine, hosting more than 200 events a year, welcoming 1.4 million attendees and contributing more than $2 billion to the area’s economy.
Maintaining a relentless focus on entrepreneurship and economic prosperity, Orange County continues to be a prime destination for companies to do business. Through the National Entrepreneur Center, the Central Florida International Trade Office and working with UCF’s Business Incubator at Research Park, the region is seeing tremendous gains in its innovation economy. Orange County also continues to focus heavily on Modeling, Simulation and Training through its MS&T Blue Ribbon Commission.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
In addition to the tremendous investments in infrastructure and innovation, much work has been done to care for Orange County’s citizens and children impacted by homelessness. By late 2015, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness ended Veterans homelessness, with an effective rate of zero. Homeless families however, remain a difficult challenge. In early 2015, a report was released to look at how effectively dollars are being spent with regard to housing homeless families. The Orange County Committee of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness is already working to make those changes. A key finding in that report was the need for affordable housing.
Through the INVEST initiative, there are multiple programs and projects aimed directly at expanding access and inventory of affordable housing for strategies in addressing this shortage. Orange County’s housing initiatives will receive $5 million over the next five years to help fund these efforts, including an Affordable Rental Housing project, which will create 70 brand new affordable housing apartments, with 20 percent of the units dedicated for the homeless population. This also includes the renovation of the Wayne Densch Center and a single-family subdivision called the New Horizons Project.
Orange County’s projected $2 million dollar investment to the Wayne Densch Center, in partnership with Florida Hospital, Ability Housing, Wayne Densch Charities, the Central Florida Foundation and the Florida Community Loan Fund will support the renovation of the facility and provide a vital housing resource for families, including those who have challenges due to mental illness, addiction or physical disability. The New Horizons Project in South Apopka, formerly known as Hawthorne Village, will also provide 56 homes for low- and very low-income households in need of housing.
Through the same partnership approach, Orange County is helping to address Central Florida’s heroin epidemic with the Orange County Heroin Task Force, which Mayor Jacobs convened in 2015 with co-chair Sheriff Jerry L. Demings. The Task Force’s 37 recommendations included bond increases for suspected trafficking as well as a public information outreach campaign using traditional and social media to warn citizens about the deadly nature of heroin. The Task Force also recommended the activation of a “blanket prescription” for Naloxone, a life-saving drug when faced with fatal overdoses. Mayor Jacobs recently testified before Congress about the deadly impact heroin use poses to Orange County citizens and provided insight and research based on the findings of the Orange County Heroin Task Force.
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