Blue Zoning Orlando

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read SEPTEMBER 2019 — A new community assessment and feasibility analysis in Orange County is aiming to transform and improve local residents’ wellness and reduce health risks to make the county a more prosperous place to live, work and play.

The program is being brought to Orange County by the Orlando Economic Partnership’s Foundation for Orlando’s Future and leaders in the business community, who are working with Blue Zones to begin building a plan for a well-being transformation.

“As one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country, Orlando is attracting 1,500 new residents every week. The Foundation is responding in innovative ways to make sure the region’s rapid urban expansion goes hand-in-hand with equitable and inclusive growth,” Orlando Economic Partnership President and CEO Tim Giuliani said in a prepared statement. 

Blue Zones helps people live longer and better through community transformation programs that lower healthcare costs, improve productivity and boost national recognition as great places to live, work, and play, according to its website. Becoming a Blue Zones Community is a three-phase process, which starts with Phase I, the Readiness Assessment. During this phase,  experts collaborate with leaders to assess readiness and build a plan for change.

“Working with local leaders, we will find the best way to apply global solutions to the local context. The final roadmap for community transformation will include strategies for optimizing built environment, food systems, financial literacy, tobacco, alcohol, happiness, and well-being policies so that people are constantly nudged toward healthier choices, behaviors, and lasting habits,” Dan Buettner, Blue Zones founder and National Geographic fellow and explorer, said in a written statement.

Blue Zones Project communities have experienced double-digit drops in obesity, smoking and BMI (body mass index), millions of dollars of savings in healthcare costs and measurable drops in employee absenteeism. As stated in its website, through its community-wide approach to well-being, Blue Zones improves or optimizes city streets (smoking policies, bike lanes, sidewalks), public spaces (parks, lakes, walking paths), schools (cafeterias, safe walking paths to school), restaurants, grocery stores, employers, faith-based organizations, and community involvement.

From Sept. 9-13, Buettner and his world-renowned team of experts will meet with community leaders to create the framework for a well-being policy bundle that it hopes will transform Orange County.

“This effort is part of the mission of the Foundation for Orlando’s Future, created by the Orlando Economic Partnership, to equip the region’s leaders with research and strategies that help them plan for the future,” said Giuliani.

 

To learn more, visit:

Orlando Economic Partnership: https://www.orlandoedc.com/Home.aspx 

Blue Zones: https://www.bluezones.com/activate-orange-county/

Orlando at the Cutting-Edge of Biotech Investment

by Sara Warden

2 min read August 2019 — The global biotechnology market is expected to exceed $775 billion by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights. With this amount at stake, it is little wonder Orlando is not allowing the opportunity to attract biotechnology companies pass it by.

Florida is the eighth-largest biotechnology R&D state in the United States, with over 260 biotech companies. According to a research paper by Man-Keun Kim and Thomas R. Harris on the clustering effect in the US biotechnology industry, some of the most important factors in forming a cluster include average payroll and overall education level in the region.

Orlando is addressing all these areas to attract biotech giants to the city and surrounding areas.

One example: In 2005, the University of Central Florida (UCF) received a $12.5 million donation from the Tavistock Group to build the UCF College of Medicine at Lake Nona, just south of Orlando Airport. The Orlando community matched the donation, which was in turn matched by a government grant, taking the total investment in the campus to over $100 million.

The new college broke ground in 2007, and the school announced that each of the 41 charter students would be awarded a full $40,000 four-year scholarship. The program attracted 4,300 applicants and the class members had the highest MCAT and GPA scores in the state. The campus continues to expand, now including the medical school’s new 170,000-square-foot medical education facility, as well as its new 198,000-square-foot Burnett Biomedical Sciences building. 

UCF has continued to make partnerships with renowned medical organizations to bolster the campus’ facilities. The College of Medicine is now partnered with Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Nemours Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s largest paediatric health systems.

An economic impact study found that the College of Medicine and Lake Nona’s medical city could create more than 30,000 local jobs, have an economic impact of $7.6 billion and generate nearly $500 million in additional tax revenues for the state.

“I do believe this is a good thing for our community as we endeavor to really diversify our economy with high-wage jobs,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

With talent at their fingertips, it is little wonder that leading biotechnology companies are flocking to the city. Most recently, biotech firm Amicus Therapeutics announced Lake Nona to be the frontrunner in a new 18-acre site in which it planned to invest $150 million.

Originally, the company planned to create 300 jobs paying an annual average of $69,670, not including benefits. This prompted the government to offer a sizeable benefits package to tempt the company to settle in the southeast Orlando site.

The government offered a 25% tax break and property tax exemptions over a period of seven years, which would save the company about $1.5 million. Additional state incentives totaled $240,000, with Orlando contributing up to $1,200 per job created. There are additional provisions to increase the tax rebate if the company’s investment exceeds $148.85 million.

“Orlando continues to be one of the sites we are considering, and the availability of tax and other incentives, as well as access to a rich talent pool, are important factors in our ultimate site-selection decision,” company spokeswoman Sara Pellgrino told the Orlando Sentinel.

The company has since changed tack, concentrating more in curative gene therapies, which would limit job numbers. “A gene-therapy facility would require less space and less personnel than a biologic drug-manufacturing plant,” Orange County Economic Development Director Eric Ushkowitz told the Orlando Sentinel. However, under the new proposal, the average salary would rocket to around $100,000.

A formal decision hasn’t been made on whether or not Amicus will have an office in Lake Nona but there are plenty of other biotechnology companies racing for their spot in the scientific hub. Newly-established startups include Aviana Molecular Technologies, which is developing a smartphone-enabled biosensor capable of detecting certain proteins that indicate infectious diseases. Also at the site is SynapCyte, a company that is developing patented technologies to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease through stem cell regeneration.

“This is the place to be if you want to be involved with life sciences,” said the site’s Manager Jim Bowie to life sciences publication BioFlorida.

 

Universal’s Epic Orlando Investment

by Sara Warden

2 min read AUGUST 2019 – The theme park industry in Orlando is about to get an Epic addition. Comcast NBCUniversal, parent company of Universal Studios, announced a fourth theme park to add to its Orlando portfolio. Although it is keeping its cards close to its chest, the company has made no secret of the significant economic opportunities Epic Universe will open up for the entire state of Florida.

“Our new park represents the single-largest investment Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business and in Florida overall,” said Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Universal’s parent company Comcast Corporation.  “It reflects the tremendous excitement we have for the future of our theme park business and for our entire company’s future in Florida.”

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, for every $1 spent on travel and tourism, $3.2 are returned to the economy. An economic impact study for Universal conducted by UCF economics professor Sean Snaith found that construction of the new park alone will inject around $11.5 billion in direct and indirect economic benefit into the Florida economy.

In particular, Universal will fund 50% of the Kirkman Road extension, which will allow access to the area where the new park will be located. “The Kirkman extension will improve transportation through a busy and growing portion of our county and open up the entire area for additional development, including an important expansion of our Convention Center,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

According to research by WeSwap, the average daily spend by real travellers in Orlando comes in at around $144 per day, with $52 spent on eating out, $66 on entertainment, $27 on transport and $43 on shopping.

Although no concrete details have been announced on capacity, the new park will be built on a 750-acre site. As of July 2019, the current Universal theme park covered 840 acres, meaning this new development has the potential to almost double the theme park’s current 75-million capacity.

Taking just a conservative estimate of an additional 25 million visitors per year, that’s still a whopping $3.6 billion in income for the park. According to Universal, it contributes more than $302 million in annual state and local taxes, a number that will nearly double when the new theme park opens.

Universal Orlando’s combined direct and indirect economic benefit to the Florida economy since Universal Studios opened in 1990 is $73 billion, and the industry continues to grow. In 2018, the theme park segment of Comcast’s balance sheet came in at $5.7 billion, up 4.4% on 2017.

The direct investment being made by Universal is substantial in itself, but the knock-on effects for the economy are undeniable. The new theme park will increase the 25,000-strong staff at the theme park by another 14,000, significantly boosting quality of life and opportunities in the area and allowing the region to flourish.

“The investment Universal is making in our community and the benefit all of us will see is substantial,” said Demings. “This will benefit nearly every segment of our economy, from tourism to high-tech.”

Orlando Welcomes Mixed-use University City

by Sara Warden

2 min read July 2019Right now, students all over the world are enjoying a long summer break. But when summer ends in the fall, 7,700 UCF and Valencia College students will be returning to classes at a new state-of-the-art 68-acre development called Creative Village.

A $1-billion public-private partnership, Creative Village is designed to become a minicity in the heart of Orlando’s downtown. The campus will host more than 20 UCF academic programs, including communication, digital media, legal studies, healthcare technology and healthcare management. Valencia College will offer programs in digital media, health information technology, culinary studies and hospitality.

The centerpiece of the campus will be the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons, designed by architects Robert AM Stern and SchenkelSchultz. UK-based contractor Skanska is responsible for the development of the $66 million building. The 580-space, four-story, $14.6 million parking garage will be installed with license plate recognition technology and electric charging stations. State-of-the-art student accommodation will be provided by Ustler Development and DEVEN in the form of UnionWest, a 15-story building with over 600 beds and retail spaces.

The new campus has been in the works for the last four years but it is not just students who should be interested in the development. For local companies, the business of education can be a lucrative one. Not only will Creative Village host the campus, but it will eventually become a massive mixed-use district with 1.2 million office spaces, 1,500 residential units and 225 hotel rooms.

According to the Assistant Vice President of the new campus, Mike Kilbride, the goal was to offer students integration, convenience and walkability. “You go to the legal studies example and we’re just a five-, six-minute walk to the courthouse. So, students have the opportunity to intern while they’re in their courses,” he told Click Orlando.

Sunrail and Lynx buses have established a partnership with the campus, allowing students and staff to ride free of charge. “That allows students with their student IDs to ride Lynx buses for free, so there’s a lot of great options for our students and faculty and staff to connect with this campus if they want to leave their car at home,” Kilbride said.

As the campus becomes more walkable, the need for convenient retail outlets becomes more pressing. According to Wells Fargo research, the average spend of students per year on basics like accommodation, books, transport, clothes and food comes to around $14,960. When considering the students alone, that’s a $150-million gold mine for local vendors just waiting to be tapped into.

Just last week, UCF Downtown announced sushi restaurant Vera Asian would be joining the ranks of Dunkin’, Qdoba, Subway and many more as vendors at the campus. The development will also generate jobs for hundreds more custodial workers, security guards, maintenance workers, IT support workers and others.

“We’re not just talking about transforming a city, we’re talking about transforming lives,” said City Commissioner Regina Hill, who represents west downtown Orlando, at a meeting with the Florida Board of Governors.

“It’s terribly exciting to have 7,000 students in our downtown. That’s going to change the complexion of downtown forever for the better,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told News 6.

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/