Orlando Communications Pick Up Pace With 5G

by Staff Writer

2 min read July 2019 — For a fast-moving business, it’s all about fast-moving data. These days, one millisecond can mean the difference between being the market leader and being a late mover. Big Data allows companies to analyze huge quantities of data in seconds, but it also requires substantial internet speeds. And with 5G networks able to provide download speeds 20 times faster than 4G, it’s no wonder Orlando is carving out its piece of the pie.

Earlier this year, AT&T announced that Orlando would be among the eight U.S. cities to roll out its new 5G technology. Let’s be clear: this isn’t just about getting a crystal-clear cell phone signal or being able to download a 1.25GB movie in one second. The actual implications of 5G are huge.

“5G is a real revolution. Connectivity will become a platform and no longer a pipeline [making it] possible to get everything online all the time and all the applications up into the cloud,” said Ken Hu, Huawei’s rotating chairman, at the company’s analyst summit in April. “Eventually the technology will help us to create a brand-new seamless experience between [the] online and offline [worlds].”

Nearly 50% of respondents to a recent McKinsey Analytics survey say analytics and Big Data have fundamentally changed business practices in their sales and marketing functions. According to an Accenture study, 79% of enterprise executives agree that companies that do not embrace Big Data will lose their competitive position and could face extinction while 83% have pursued Big Data projects as a competitive advantage.

“The vast majority of our economy is not actually tourism; we’re really high-tech,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’re biomedical, we’re digital media; we’re focused on the other parts of Orlando as well.”

Orlando’s unmatched human capital is one of the reasons why tech companies are establishing operations in the state, one of which is Luminar Technologies, an autonomous-vehicle testing facility. “It’s like the Silicon Valley of lidar (Light Detection and Ranging),” said Scott Faris, Luminar’s chief business officer in an interview with Forbes. “The density of folks here that understand things like lasers and computer modeling is higher than certainly anywhere else in North America, and maybe even the world.”

To take advantage of the city’s emerging tech opportunities, Orlando needed to kick up the connectivity a notch. One of the ways it was able to vie for the coveted pilot 5G program was a complete overhaul of its zoning ordinances to simplify the process for companies like AT&T. “We have truly embraced the notion of being one of the first cities with 5G so we have changed our permitting process related to that,” said Dyer. “We set up a process where we can pre-approve all the types of applications or installations they may have.”

Ultimately, the city’s businesses will reap the benefits of the 5G transformation, said Wilson Chow, head of global technology, media and telecommunications at PwC in an interview with South China Morning Post. “Data is king. [When companies] digitize their processes and transactions, they can then derive more value from their data. 5G will provide the backbone for the proliferation and development of these digital journeys for many corporations.”

Orlando No. 1 for 4th of July

by Staff Writer

2 min read July 2019As the 4th of July vacation fast approaches, many Americans are ready to start their engines and hit the highways for the holidays. Right on time, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has released its ranking of the most popular destinations this year, and Orlando tops the list. The city beat out global tourist stalwarts, including Rome and Paris. When it comes to summer vacation, here’s what makes Orlando a standout.

Location, Location, Location

Located in the middle of the state, Orlando is remarkably well-connected. It is linked to North Carolina by I-95, and to Atlanta and Tennessee by I-75. Even visitors from as far off as Dallas can sail down the I-20 and arrive to Orlando in 17 hours. Gas prices are low heading into the US “driving season,” with average prices down on the same time last year.

For those who prefer to leave the car at home, Orlando boasts three international airports. Orlando International alone has over 2,700 domestic flights per week.

Park Life

Once tourists arrive, they have a plethora of destinations to choose from, but the top attractions are its iconic theme parks. Orlando is host to Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Island of Adventure, Sea World, Legoland and many more. The 2018 Theme Index shows that Orlando plays host to seven of the Top 10 theme parks globally, with combined foot traffic of over 83 million people. In an industry expected to be worth $70.83 billion by 2025, this 4th of July is likely to provide a significant cash injection to the city.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

One of the best-loved traditions for visitors to Orlando is the shopping experience. The city has a whole host of shopping opportunities and even Disney aficionados can find a customized experience in Disney Springs. Florida Mall and The Mall at Millenia offer traditional shopping experiences, while Orlando Premium Outlets at Vineland Avenue and International Drive are the places to snap up a bargain. If you’re feeling more folksy, take a stroll down the local boutiques of Winter Park Avenue or go on a culinary tour at the East End Market.

Visitors to counties in Central Florida pay more than $5 billion each year in state and local taxes, accounting for roughly half of all sales tax revenue. This money is then used to build up the region’s entertainment, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Culture Vultures

Even though Orlando is known for its theme parks, there is a lot more to see and do in the city. The Orlando Science Center is a must for science buffs, with its interactive exhibits and planetarium shows. For a more tranquil day, visit the Henry P. Leu Gardens on the picturesque banks of Lake Rowena. If you don’t quite want to tear yourself away from the stores, try the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, where among the exhibits you can find an extensive Tiffany & Co. collection.

Back to Nature

In Orlando, you can take the time to zoom around The Everglades in an airboat, catching glimpses of alligators and other wildlife that live in the swamp. Or, if you actually want to jump in, try the freshwater springs of Blue Spring State Park, just an hour’s drive away from the city center. Here, you can enjoy swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving or jump on a boat tour.

If you don’t want to go so far afield, the Lake Eola park, conveniently situated in downtown Orlando, is a 23-acre playground complete with a sprawling lake, amphitheater, playground and a famous fountain. It’s a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city while never having to leave the shadow of the skyline. In 2013, the park was expanded to the southeast as part of Project DTO – Mayor Buddy Dyer’s drive for a more liveable downtown area.

“Today our downtown is a vibrant and dynamic center, economic engine and cultural destination with a charm and character all its own,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in his annual State of Downtown address.

Above all, Orlando is a destination for all the family, which is a key reason it comes out on top this 4th of July. 

For more information, visit the websites below:

 

American Automobile Association (AAA) https://autoclubsouth.aaa.com/

Disney’s Magic Kingdom https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/magic-kingdom/

Florida Mall https://www.simon.com/mall/the-florida-mall

Henry P. Leu Gardens https://www.leugardens.org/

International Drive https://www.internationaldriveorlando.com/

Lake Rowena https://www.orlando.gov/Parks-the-Environment/Directory/Lake-Rowena-Park

Legoland https://www.legoland.com/

Orlando Premium Outlets at Vineland Avenue https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/orlando-vineland

Orlando Science Center https://www.osc.org/

Sea World https://seaworld.com/

The Mall at Millenia https://www.mallatmillenia.com/

Universal Island of Adventure https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/theme-parks/islands-of-adventure

Orlando Cashes in on the Experience Economy

By staff writer

June 2019When it comes to spending their hard-earned cash, people prioritize the experience. In a study conducted in the UK, just over 40% of respondents valued how their holiday will appear to their friends and families as the most important factor when choosing their destination. When it comes to Instagrammability, Orlando leads the pack.

 

The city’s hospitality and leisure sector has been feeding into the local economy for many years. Leisure and tourism was responsible for 20.1% of job growth in Orlando in December 2018, more than any other sector. But even as real disposable income per capita is growing, people are pickier about where they spend their hard-earned cash. They need the wow factor and that is where the Experience Economy comes in.

Orlando has long been synonymous with Disney. Think Orlando, think Mickey Mouse ears and the Magic Kingdom. But global theme park spending surged by 5% to a record $44.8 billion in 2018 and now everyone wants a piece of that pie.

“Orlando is also considered the No. 1 family destination in the US, if not the world, so right now, this city is kind of like the Super Bowl of our industry, where the big game is,” said Bill Davis, Universal Studios Orlando’s COO said in a media interview with Chief Executive.[CN2]

Universal, well aware of the importance of funnelling money into reimagining what the public really wants, has just launched a new experience in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – a mind-bending alternative universe. The attraction, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike

Adventure, opened on June 13 to huge crowds, 10-hour lineups and an ensemble of the movie franchise’s biggest stars.

“I was here back in 1987 when this was all still snake-filled marshland. And to see what it’s become — Central Florida’s newest destination resort — is just kind of mind-blowing,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts said in a Huffington Post interview. “Orlando is the capital of Harry Potter.”[CN3]

Alongside Hagrid’s Magical Creatures, Universal also unveiled its Endless Summer “value” Surfside Inn and Suites resort, with rates starting at $73 per night. Universal is constructing the neighbouring Dockside Inn and Suites resort, which will add 2,050 rooms and suites in 2020.

But Hagrid’s Magical Creatures is just one of the upcoming additions to Universal Orlando. Late last year, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke pledged that parent company Comcast would invest more money in its theme park business than it spent to acquire NBCUniversal, which came in at a total of $30.1 billion.

Then, this February, Universal Orlando filed revised drawings to the Orange County authorities detailing an entire new theme park under development near the Orange County Convention Center. Work is already underway on the new site, reportedly called Fantastic Worlds.

With an entire theme park to build, entailing infrastructure, back of house, parking lots, and road expansions needed to support it, it looks like Universal is sticking to its pledge.

The company has deep pockets and isn’t afraid to dig into them, which is good news for its flagship Orlando destination. “We’re not going to stop there,” said Williams. “We’re going to keep going with new hotels and new attractions and give people from around the world lots of great reasons to come visit this destination.”

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/