Opportunities Abound for Women and Minorities in Orlando

By staff writer

April 2019

Orlando has a diverse economy and demographics, and with this diversity comes the need to create opportunities for women and minorities. The city’s population has grown by 51 percent over the past 19 years — almost three times the national average  — so catering to the accompanying surge in minority and female residents has become a priority.

The Census Bureau’s 2016 survey showed that minorities now make up nearly 40 percent of Orlando’s 280,000 residents, and that Hispanics represent about 30 percent of that total. Florida boasts the fourth-highest percentage of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses, and the city of Orlando recently received the top score in the government leadership category in the New American Economy Cities Index, which measures municipalities’ effectiveness in integrating immigrants.

The city also received a near-perfect score in socio-economic livability, which measures immigrants’ quality of life fin areas such as housing, healthcare and education. “When the local government actively supports immigrant integration into economic and civic life, other local organizations follow. It starts with representation, and the city of Orlando employs many of our foreign-born residents,” Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, wrote recently in a column for the Orlando Sentinel.

Local universities and colleges also offer a variety of programs for minorities and foreign-born residents. For example, the University of Central Florida has a Diversity in Contracts program that aims to create an equitable purchasing environment for all businesses by working to remove opportunity barriers.

Entities such as the Minority Business Development Agency, the Office of Supplier Diversity, the Hispanic Office for Local Assistance and the Office of Multicultural Affairs are some of the organizations committed to helping minorities move up in the city.

In addition, public and private organizations have developed efforts to create opportunities for women throughout the area. For example, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce recently launched a pilot program to identify talented professionals — mostly women with degrees who have stayed home to raise a family and wish to re-enter the workforce. The program aims to help chamber members meet the challenge of attracting and retaining talent, while giving support to women returning to the workplace.

“Through this pilot return-to-work program we placed 83 percent of the participating women within six months in local and global companies,” Betsy Gardner Eckbert, President and CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce told Invest:. “We’re very excited to have the ability to furnish our members with a talent base of people who are reliable and have the skills and talents they’re looking for.”

Florida is doing better than most in fulfilling its mission to provide opportunities for women. Today, the state boasts 1.4 percent more self-employed females than the average state, according to the State of Small Business Report. Moreover, between 2002 and 2016, Florida was ranked No. 1 in the growth of women-owned businesses, reported the South Florida Business Journal.

To learn more about our interviewees, please visit:

Winter Park Chamber of Commerce: https://winterpark.org/

Lake County Focuses On Small Sports Niches

By staff writer

March 2019

Credit: Stephen M. Dowell / Orlando Sentinel

The state of Florida has excellent natural geography for outside activities, whether you enjoy going to the beach, theme parks, kayaking or practicing your favorite sports. Lake County is no exception: It’s an ideal place to enjoy outdoor activities, from trail adventures in the surrounding hills to myriad water sports.

To take advantage of their geographic perks, the county’s Agency for Economic Prosperity is focusing on promoting several activities. “There are numerous sports such as cycling and triathlons, which people can enjoy that they wouldn’t be able to experience in the same way in other parts of the state,” Bandon Matulka, executive director of Lake County’s Agency for Economic Prosperity told Invest:.

As part of the county’s efforts to build these sports niches that align with their slogan (Real Florida, Real Close), the agency is in the process of developing several professional-level disc golf courses.

“Disc golf is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, and it takes advantage of our natural beauty without being too invasive,” Matulka said. “Through those efforts, we’re hoping to bring large championship-level disc golf events to Lake County,” he added.

There are already three disc golf courses in the Lake County Disc Golf Trail, and they plan to build three new championship courses with two tee pads and two baskets per hole, all of them designed by Disc Golf Hall-of-Famer Gregg Hosfeld of World Championship Disc Golf Design.

In addition, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners, Visit Lake and The Florida Region of USA Volleyball recently hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Athletic Center at Hickory Point Park.

“Hickory Point has become the sporting destination we envisioned four years ago,” said Lake County Commissioner and Tourist Development Council Chairman Tim Sullivan. “This athletic center will pay for itself many times over, attracting athletes and their families to Lake County and encouraging them to discover why we are Real Florida, Real Close.”

The 4,000-square-foot athletic center has a CORA training room, locker rooms, meeting spaces, a concession stand, an officials locker room and public restrooms.

“The 21-court facility is the largest permanent sand volleyball complex in the state, and the Athletic Center will help to further set it apart from other facilities,” Matulka told Invest:. “We have a great partnership with USA Volleyball, and we’re looking to bring championship-level events to that unique facility,” he said.

Lake County has numerous facilities that cater to a wide variety of outdoor sporting events. This year, the county is hosting the 2019 NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships and the  2019 AVCA Small College Beach Championship.

To learn more about our interviewees, please visit:

Agency for Economic Prosperity – Lake County: https://www.lakecountyfl.gov/agencies/economic_prosperity/

 

Orlando Businesses Are Benefiting from Tax Reform Changes

By staff writer

March 2019

As the 2019 tax season approaches its end, tax filers will see the effects of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) for the first time. While some say it has had a mixed effect, most of the experts who spoke with our team at Invest: Orlando affirm that the legislation has been overwhelmingly positive for businesses in the Greater Orlando area.

The TCJA changed deductions, depreciation, expensing, tax credits and other tax items that affect businesses. This has been the most significant federal tax reform enacted in the United States in decades. The TJCA had four goals: tax relief for middle-income families, simplification for individuals, economic growth and repatriation of overseas income.

“The 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has made people consider the type of entity they want to be,” Jed Grennan, founding partner of Grennan Fender CPA & Advisors, told Invest:. “Pass-through entities like S-corporations and partnerships in many cases now enjoy a 20 percent business income deduction.”

There has also been a reduction in overall tax liabilities across the firm’s client base, and most individuals and businesses are benefiting from the lower tax rates, the higher standard deduction and the higher child credit. “A lot of people don’t know how the new law benefits them until they sit down with us,” Gennan said. “In most cases, it is well received, and I think it has been a boost in the economy.”

Although one of the objectives of the TJCA was simplification, most people are not finding the changes to be simple. “On the business side, the big thing is the new qualified business income (QBI) tax deduction,” Charles Marcussen, managing partner of Newman, Seland & Oppenheimer, LLC, told Invest:. “There are other open-ended questions because they’re still writing the regulations on how that will be implemented. There are certain segments, like the service industry, that are still awaiting final regulations.”

The new tax law also includes complex provisions related to the QBI deduction, like limitations for special service organizations that will affect professionals such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants. Dalia Cantor, CEO of CPA Solutions, explained that the tax reform — particularly where it concerns changes in business taxation — will benefit the majority of organizations.

“C-corporations will see a decrease in income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and pass-through entities such as S-corporations and partnerships will be able to take advantage of the 20 percent QBI deduction,” Cantor told Invest:.

On the other side, some firms such as Holland & Knight saw strong demand in mergers and acquisitions transactions in 2018, which Glenn Adams, the firm’s executive partner in Orlando, believes is a result of the tax reform. “It was a good time for organizations that had been on the sidelines in earlier years with respect to M&A activity to make investments in target companies,” Adams said.

As a result of these changes in tax legislation, Cantor told Invest: that tax planning will have to be proactive and more precise to make sure every business optimizes tax savings to its maximum potential. As this year’s tax season comes to a close, Invest: Orlando will be keeping an eye on the impact of these new tax regulations for local corporations and small businesses.

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:

Grennan Fender & CPA Advisors: https://orlandoaccounting.com/

Newman, Seland & Oppenheimer, LLC: https://orlando-accounting.com/

CPA Solutions: https://www.mycpasolutions.com/

Holland & Knight: https://www.hklaw.com/

Orlando’s Airport Makeovers

By staff writer

February 2019

In an economic environment characterized by growth and prosperity, airports play a significant role. Florida is home to more than 100 public airports, and the aviation sector has an estimated impact of $144.0 billion annually. The City of Orlando is a key player in the industry, being one of the most visited destinations in the world and home to the second-busiest airport in the state.

But what are the region’s smaller airports doing to keep up with the growth in the area? Invest: Orlando spoke with several leaders in the industry to find out. The overwhelming response from our interviewees is that smaller airports are reinventing themselves, embarking on expansions and attracting a diverse array of companies in an effort to keep up with Orlando’s continued growth.

The Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) is undergoing an expansion project that should be complete in the fourth quarter of 2020. “We are continuing to grow, and we know that maybe 10 years down the road we will need a new terminal, but we wanted something that would facilitate our growth in the meantime, so we are adding four new gates,” Diane Crews, president and CEO of SFB, told Invest:.

According to a report from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Aviation and Spaceports Office, SFB’s direct economic impact in 2014 was about $1.1 billion, and the indirect impact was $646,000. The airport also employs over 23,000 people.

The growth and prosperity in the area has brought a change in the profile of the typical traveler at SFB. “The Orlando Sanford International Airport has been used mostly for leisure travel, especially because our flights do not have the frequency that business travelers need,” Crews said. “That is starting to change. We are seeing more business travel, and we are going to be working towards increasing that component of our operation.”

The Orlando region has five airports (including Orlando International Airport [MCO] and SFB) with more than 175 nonstop destinations around the world. One of these hubs is the Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM), located in Osceola County approximately 25 miles south of downtown Orlando.

ISM is looking to attract more aerospace and aviation companies, and the City of Kissimmee created the Aerospace Advancement Initiative to support that goal. ISM accommodates general aviation air service 24 hours a day, as well as flight training schools, box hangars, new T-hangars and a variety of recreational activities. It also employs over 1,000 people and has a $45.8 million direct economic impact and $22.1 million indirect impact, according to a report from FDOT’s Aviation and Spaceports Office.

As a result of the Aerospace Advancement Initiative, the aerospace firm Know 2 Solutions, which connects aircrafts through satellite communications hardware and services, landed its headquarters in the ISM last year.

Terry Lloyd, director of aviation at ISM, told Invest: about other highlights the airport saw in 2018 that underscore the growth it is experiencing. “In 2018 we stood up a high school on the airport property, which is a great benefit for the local community. One of our flight training businesses added a full-motion simulator. We have a lot of flight training.” Lloyd also pointed out that the airport attracts people from overseas and domestic locations and trains them to be professional pilots.

Last year the Orlando International Airport remained the busiest airport in the state of Florida, with a record 47.7 million annual passengers. The Sanford airport saw a record of 3 million passengers in 2018.

“If you’re looking at investing in Orlando, Orange County and the City of Kissimmee are business friendly and very proactive,” said Lloyd. “We provide training for some of our residents; when they graduate from high school they can get career education at their local airport, and it results in fairly high-paid jobs. We are kind of training our own workforce here for anybody who wants to come in on the education side and invest.”

The amount of visitors arriving to the Greater Orlando area is expected to go up in 2019, and airport officials, government leaders and related industries are all working to keep up with the projected growth in the area. Invest: Orlando is excited to see what’s in store for the aviation sector in 2019 and beyond!

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:

Orlando Sanford International Airport: http://www.orlandosanfordairport.com/

Kissimmee Gateway Airport: https://www.kissimmee.org/government/kissimmee-gateway-airport

 

Finding — and Keeping — Good People

By staff writer

February 2019

As the Greater Orlando area continues to grow its economy and lower the unemployment rate, companies in several sectors are having a hard time finding qualified candidates to fill their job openings. The workforce-skills gap — or the gap between the skills a workforce offers and the needed skills that will help local businesses grow — has been widening across various industries, but particularly in construction, accounting and hospitality. It is not about the quantity of resumes businesses receive but about the quality and level of skills the candidates provide.

In a recent conversation with Invest: Orlando, Jed Grennan, founding partner of Grennan Fender CPA & Advisors, said that finding quality talent and keeping it is one of the biggest challenges facing the accounting sector. There is a scarcity that is making it hard to recruit, retain and reward top-quality people,” he said. “To be the firm of choice, we have to create a more attractive office environment that provides our employees with the flexibility, challenges and continued growth opportunities they are looking for.”

A recent report from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity revealed that Orange County’s unemployment rate was 2.9 percent in December 2018, which is the third lowest unemployment rate in the state. The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area saw the largest nonagricultural employment gains, with 51,300 jobs added, or 4 percent growth.

“Because our economy and employment market is so strong, this challenge expands beyond real estate,” H. Bradley Peterson, senior managing director & co-head of HFF Orlando Office, told Invest:. “It is difficult to hire strong employees because there is a lot of demand for new talent across different sectors.”

Since the 2007 recession, workers who were forced to find jobs in different industries never returned to their previous sectors, and that is one of the reasons employers in industries like construction are struggling with finding quality craftspeople. The numerous opportunities in the Orlando area aggravate the situation because employees have more options to choose from.

“We are recruiting outside of the metro area and relocating from other markets,” Peterson said. “Across the country most people are aware of how strong Orlando is, so employees are excited to move here because they feel the future is very bright and there are a lot of growth opportunities.”

Chambers of commerce, associations and the local government are developing different strategies to support businesses in the area as they combat this issue. For example, to provide support for their members, the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce launched a pilot program to identify talented professionals — mostly women who have stayed home to raise families but hold impressive degrees.

“Our program helps them present back to the workplace and assists them in finding work again. Through this pilot return-to-work program we placed 83 percent of the participating women within six months in local and global companies. We are very excited to have the ability to furnish our members with a talent base of people who are reliable and have the skills and talents they are looking for,” Betsy Gardner Eckbert, president and CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, told Invest:.

To attend to the challenges in the lack of workforce that some industries are facing, Orange County’s public schools and the Orange Technical College have a training program targeting various in-demand industries such as construction, manufacturing and digital media/ information technology in order to make certain that there is a skilled workforce available to meet the job demand.

A report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) showed that unfilled jobs and the lack of qualified applicants continues to be a primary concern for businesses, with job openings setting a record high and job creation plans strengthening by December 2018. The report also stated that 60 percent of the companies surveyed reported hiring or trying to hire, but 54 percent of those cited few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. This underscores how important it is for companies to include innovative recruiting and retention tools, as well as flexible environments and positive company culture, to find and keep their employees.

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:

Grennan Fender CPA and Advisors: https://orlandoaccounting.com/

HFF Orlando: https://www.hfflp.com/locations/orlando.html

Winter Park Chamber of Commerce: https://winterpark.org/

 

High-Tech Hub

By staff writer

January 2019

Orlando has been evolving into a high-tech hub. With more than 2,000 technology-based companies in fields from simulation and training technology to digital media and medical technology, the City Beautiful is increasingly attracting tech startups and investors. Orlando ranked number six among 20 of the fastest-growing technology markets in the U.S. in 2017, according to Time magazine.

The growth in Orlando’s tech jobs was 149 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to data from the job search site ZipRecruiter. Among the top tech jobs in Orlando are project manager, software engineer, project engineer, network engineer and developer, with an average $59,500 early career median pay and $105,000 mid-career median pay.

The modeling simulation industry plays a big role in Orlando’s technology sector, earning the city the reputation for being the modeling, simulation and training capital of the world. With simulation programs supporting military training and partnerships between the local government, defense department and private entities, the industry continues to grow and fuel the local economy.

“We have the most robust modeling simulation and training cluster in the entire world, and that’s something not many people know,” Buddy Dyer, mayor of the City of Orlando, told Invest: Orlando when he sat down with our team in late 2018. “That is successful because of the great research park that we have associated with the University of Central Florida (UCF) and military applications. It continues to be a developing area, along with the biomedical and life sciences industry cluster.”

Another cluster that is seeing growth is digital media. For example, Creative Village is a mixed-use neighborhood in downtown Orlando built on the success of Orlando’s digital media industry. “We broke ground on the UCF/Valencia College downtown campus and started constructing the Creative Village,” said Dyer. “We are noted for industry clusters in our community, so this is an industry cluster in digital media that will have the academic, residential and, certainly, retail and business parts all clustered together.”

At the beginning of 2019 the Orlando Business Journal reported that more than 1,200 jobs were available for tech workers in Orlando. Companies recruiting included Lockheed Martin Corp., with 839 job openings; Leidos Inc., with 84 job openings; Luminar Technologies Inc., with 47; Accenture Federal Services, with 41; and EA Tiburon, with 40.

Claudia Muriel, president of UCRYA, a leading global software application development company, noted that the growth of the technology sector in Central Florida stands out. “Each industry has a lot of growth and demand, but technology is the one experiencing the most growth,” she told Invest:. “No matter which industry an IT solutions company is in — healthcare, life sciences or financial services — we see opportunities everywhere. We just have to determine what technology is right for them.”

To support the development of the tech sector, Orlando universities offer specialized programs and certifications. Programs include the UCF Institute for Simulation and Training, Full Sail University’s bachelor’s degree in simulation and visualization and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University’s simulation science, games and animation program. With all the advances in global technology, there’s no doubt that Orlando will continue to excel in the industry, and Invest: Orlando will be keeping a close eye on the evolution!

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:

City of Orlando: http://www.cityoforlando.net/

UCRYA: http://www.ucrya.com/

 

Tech-Forward Transportation

By staff writer

January 2019 — 2 min. read

Technology has had a significant impact on Orlando’s transportation sector. Various transportation companies have taken important steps towards innovative projects to improve passenger experience and service efficiency. For instance, a group of agencies are developing and testing several smart transportation technologies in the Creative Village complex throughout 2018 and 2019 to enhance pedestrian safety and ease congestion. Creative Village, located in Downtown Orlando, is a mixed-use, transit-oriented, urban infill neighborhood that will be home to the UCF/Valencia Downtown Campus in 2019.

The transit programs will be developed by the Florida Department of Transportation, MetroPlan Orlando and the University of Central Florida (UCF) as a result of a $12 million grant awarded by the Federal Highway Administration. The grant will focus on four major technologies: PedSafe, a pedestrian and bicycle collision avoidance system that digitally connects people, vehicles and traffic lights; GreenWay, which uses traffic signal technology and sensors to help the transportation system adapt to real-time traffic conditions; SmartCommunity, for trip-planning apps; and SunStore, which integrates FDOT data. Operation and maintenance of these projects are expected to continue through 2021.

In addition to group efforts and partnerships, many transit companies are implementing innovative solutions to combat mounting traffic and adjust to the needs of modern passengers. One example of these efforts are the changes made by LYNX, a bus system run by the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority.

LYNX launched four mobile applications in 2018. “One of them is our LYNX Bus Tracker, a real-time mobile application that allows passengers to track the bus they are waiting to get on,” Edward L. Johnson, CEO of LYNX, told Invest: Orlando when he sat down with our team in early December. “We also developed NeighborLink, a mobile application for our door-to-door bus services for areas with less passenger flow. The technology is similar to Uber and Lyft applications.”

LYNX has also launched the application “See Something/Say Something,” which allows customers to discreetly send a notification to the company’s security offices if something improper is happening in one of its vehicles. LYNX plans to merge the mobile applications in 2019. It is worth noting that LYNX accommodates an average of 90,000 passenger trips daily over an area with a resident population of more than 1.8 million.

Companies like MetroPlan Orlando have reinvented the traditional way of adjusting to the influence of technology. “We are getting ready to update our strategic plan, and we are about to kick off the update of our long-range transportation plan,” Gary Huttmann, MetroPlan’s executive director, told Invest:. “This plan will be different from any other we have seen because of the influence of technology on the work that we do and how we address that looking into the future.”

Among the most anticipated innovative transit projects in Orlando is the arrival of Brightline, with construction set to begin in 2019. This massive project will allow passengers to travel from Orlando to Miami in three hours. Brightline is also in negotiations to add rail service from Orlando to Tampa, which might include stops near Disney World and Lakeland.

This advances in technology and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are expected to reduce mounting traffic and road accidents and bring safer solutions to bikers and pedestrians. As outlined in the Harvard Business Report, McKinsey and Bloomberg New Energy Finance have estimated that in 50 metropolitan areas worldwide, a rapid transition to advanced mobility systems could yield $600 billion in societal benefits through 2030. You can bet that everyone here at Invest: will be keeping a keen eye on the tech-forward transit projects underway in Orlando.

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:

Lynx: https://www.golynx.com/

MetroPlan Orlando: https://metroplanorlando.org/

For more information contact:
Jaime Muehl
Managing Editor
contact@capitalaa.com
TEL: 305-523-9708, ext. 230

Capital Analytics Spotlights the Business Growth Turning Orlando into a Boomtown

Invest: Orlando to highlight economic opportunities in the region

November 19, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ORLANDO, FL — Responding to the company’s successful expansion within the state of Florida, with new markets recently opening in both Tampa and Palm Beach, Capital Analytics is now setting its sights on Central Florida for Invest: Orlando in 2019. Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship are focal points for the inaugural report of Orlando, the first of an annual series that will underline and assess key issues and opportunities in the Central Florida market.

Invest: Orlando will feature insights gleaned from one-on-one, in-person discussions with over 200 C-level executives, tackling the high-impact stories unfolding in the Orlando and I-4 corridor business community, including the area’s emergence (in conjunction with Tampa) as a technology hub, its strong real estate market and a growing workforce bolstered by an entrepreneurial spirit. The report will cover all of the main sectors of the Orlando economy, such as tourism and hospitality; life sciences and healthcare; education; real estate; technology; banking and finance; manufacturing and logistics; aviation, aerospace and defense; and transportation.

“After expanding into Tampa earlier this year, Orlando is the logical next step in our Florida division,” said Abby Melone, president of Capital Analytics.  “A new focus on Orlando will give our readers the full picture of Central Florida, connecting the east and west coasts. It’s an ideal location for us to encourage international investment. The continued growth of opportunities in the Orlando market make it an ideal place for the company’s newest operation.”

The production of Invest: Orlando is underway as the Capital Analytics team has already connected with many high-profile industry leaders in the area. It will be the first and most comprehensive report on the region’s dynamic business climate. Currently in its fifth year of publishing the well-read and highly praised Invest: Miami, Capital Analytics has begun to expand into markets both in and outside of its home state of Florida.

“Orlando is an exciting place to be right now. It’s the world capital of modeling, simulation and training and the top-producing region for engineers in the aviation, aerospace and defense industry. It’s also the country’s newest hub for advanced manufacturing. Invest: Orlando will keep that momentum going by giving the region’s top executives in all of the major sectors a forum to let the world know why Central Florida is such a great place to do business,” said Jaime Muehl, managing editor of Capital Analytics.

With the report expected to launch in the spring of 2019, a number of key players in the Orlando business community have already expressed their praise and excitement to be included.

The team will be led by Executive Director Ollie Koshelieva. Ollie brings with her an extensive background in advertising, marketing and creative and technical writing. She is excited to create a high-quality report that showcases Orlando’s economic growth and development.

For more information contact:
Jaime Muehl
Managing Editor
contact@capitalaa.com
TEL: 305-523-9708, ext. 230

Midterm Madness

By staff writer
November 8, 2018 – 2 min. read

Tuesday’s midterm elections attracted record numbers of voters, with estimates putting the count at 113 million. This historic turnout brought 110 female winners, the country’s first openly gay governor and more than 30 flipped seats in Congress, but it also underscored the deep and often contentious divide facing our nation. Capital Analytics has been keeping a close eye on the results, particularly those affecting our markets in Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

One of the biggest takeaways is the Democrats regaining control of the House, surpassing the 23 seats necessary for majority rule by more than 10. In Florida, former University of Miami president Donna Shalala won the 27th District previously held by Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, edging out Republican opponent Maria Elvira Salazar. Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell also won over Republican Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th District. Pennsylvania saw three seats flipped by Democrats Mary Scanlon in the 5th District, Conor Lamb in the 17th District and Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th District.

Two congressional races in Georgia remained too close to call Wednesday evening, the first in the 6th District, where Republican Karen Handel is seeking reelection but trailed Democrat Lucy McBath 49.55 percent to 50.45 percent. In the 7th District, Republican Rob Woodall and Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux were in a similar position, with Woodhall holding a slight lead of 50.23 percent over Bourdeaux’s 49.77 percent. Georgia law requires a recount if the final vote margin is 1 percent or less, according to the Associated Press. Both campaigns are waiting for absentee ballots to be counted in hopes of naming a clear winner.

Though the House succumbed to the “blue wave,” the GOP not only retained control of the Senate but also bolstered it with a number of key victories in states like Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. In Florida, the hotly contested race between Republican former governor Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson is heading for automatic recount. According to unofficial returns posted on Wednesday by the state Division of Elections, Scott held a 30,239-vote lead out of 8.1 million ballots cast — a difference of just .38 percent. In Florida, if the margin in a race is less than .5 percent, a recount is automatically triggered. The Senate race might not be the only one to move to recount, either. Florida’s agriculture commissioner contest between Republican Matt Caldwell and Democrat Nikki Fried is even tighter, with Caldwell carrying a slim .16 percent lead on Wednesday evening.

While Tom Wolf comfortably won reelection in Pennsylvania, the Florida and Georgia governor’s races were much more hotly contested. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican opponent Ron DeSantis early on Wednesday, but by late Wednesday DeSantis’s lead had narrowed to a margin of just .57 percent. However, this still remained outside of the .5 percent margin that requires a recount under Florida law. Votes were still being counted on Thursday morning, and if the margin falls below .5 percent, a recount will be triggered.

Georgia’s gubernatorial race is even closer, with Democrat Stacey Abrams refusing to concede to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) and vowing to “fight for every vote.” While Kemp’s campaign declared victory to reporters on Wednesday evening, the Abrams campaign readied its legal team to challenge the election results. A runoff, if it comes to that, would be held on December 4.

Even as heated battles underscored the increasingly polarized nature of U.S. politics, culminating in a divided Congress, the 2018 midterms marked a new high for women taking seats in the chamber, with 98 women projected to win in the House and 12 in the Senate. Even more notable is the fact that 34 of these women are newly elected members of Congress. This “pink wave” includes 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman in history to take a seat in Congress, serving New York’s 14th District. In Pennsylvania, a record-breaking four women are projected to win seats in the House. This is particularly momentous considering not a single woman currently represents the state in the House. Women are also projected to win in nine gubernatorial races (not counting Stacey Abrams, who is still vying to become the country’s first female African-American governor).

In addition to the inroads made by women, there has also been a noticeable push for diversity in public office. Two Muslim women and two Native American women will take seats in Congress, and Colorado’s Jared Polis (D) will become the country’s first openly gay governor. Overall, more than 100 LGBTQ candidates claimed victory on Tuesday night, indicating changing attitudes toward how voters think about both LGBTQ candidates and rights. Exit polls suggest that voter diversity also hit all-time highs for midterm elections, with the non-white vote estimated at 28 percent. (For perspective, in 1990 non-white voters accounted for just 9 percent of the vote.)

While some races remain too close to call and others were resounding losses or victories, depending on which side of the party line you walk, the fact that so many people showed up to vote is something all parties can be proud of. We’ll be keeping an eye on the tight races in Florida and Georgia and looking forward to what’s in store in 2020.