Orlando’s nine neighborhood commercial districts offer unique character, eclectic boutiques and trendy galleries while giving a boost to small businesses that have added more than 7,000 jobs since the Orlando Main Streets program began in 2008.
The neighborhoods add cultural diversity like the Asian markets and restaurants in the Mills 50 District. They range from The Old Orlando Railroad Depot, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, in the Church Street District to Orlando’s newest up and coming neighborhood, the Milk District.
The city is recognizing the achievements of its Orlando Main Streets as part of National Small Business Week April 30 – May 6.
Orlando Main Streets encourages entrepreneurs and small business owners to provide jobs, goods and services that help drive the local economy. Orlando’s districts are affiliated with Main Street America, a 35-year-old program that has led to the development of a national network of more than 2,000 historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.
In just the past year, Orlando’s nine districts have welcomed 60 new businesses and 500 full- and part-time jobs.
“I am so proud of these accomplishments, as they represent the strides Orlando has made in becoming the best city for entrepreneurs and small business owners to succeed,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who encouraged residents to patronize the small businesses in the Main Streets. “Walk or bike down any of our Main Streets and you can feel the vibrancy.”
Orlando Main Street Districts receive technical assistance and training from Orlando Main Streets and the Main Street America. Each Main Street has a full-time executive director, raises matching funds and implements its programs according to an annual plan.
The city’s districts include: Audubon Park, Church Street District, College Park, SoDo, Gateway Orlando, Ivanhoe Village, Mills 50, Thornton Park and The Milk District. Orlando’s Main Streets is also home to Orlando Tech Association, the city’s digital Main Street, connecting, promoting and fostering the growth of technology companies in Orlando.
Since the program’s inception in 2008, Orlando Main Streets have welcomed nearly 1,200 new businesses and created nearly 7,000 full and part-time jobs.
Last year, the Audubon Park Garden District was awarded the Great American Main Street Award – the highest honor given by Main Street America. Developed post-World War II, Audubon Park was a commercial main drag dotted with suburban strip malls. Now the corridor is flourishing with small businesses, pollinator gardens and local markets that have become a cultural hub for the neighborhood.