At the annual State of the City address Tuesday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer made a push for Orlando to become the city that defines the 21st century.

But to get there, Dyer said, the keys were connectivity, transportation and diversity.

In an hour-long speech, Dyer spoke of the city’s accomplishments in the tone of a proud father. He praised the efforts of city officials, the Orlando Police Department and the Orlando Fire Department in making the city safer and more efficient.

But the crux of his speech was the assertion that Orlando can (and should, he stressed) be the city that defines the 21st century.

“The 19th century centered on New York and the industrial revolution,” he said. “The 20th century was about California cities and the tech revolution. What city will be next? Orlando is positioned pretty well.”

He said one of the biggest parts of that would be connectivity — he mentioned the SunRail specifically and said people should “give it a try.” He said the city has $10 billion worth in transportation projects, including extending the SunRail south to Kissimmee and making the city more pedestrian-friendly.

Some implementations already faring well include the car and bike share programs and over 300 miles of urban bike trails and signed routes and lanes.

“We must become America’s new home for mass transit,” he said.

He then announced that he would be giving out free passes for everyone at the event to ride the SunRail once during the next week.

Then Dyer went on to say that the city must “create a ladder” for the middle class, paving an opportunity by keeping jobs in the city. He said their goal is to make a “pathway for success” and keep children and graduating adults in the area by creating jobs – something they have succeeded at recently, as Orlando leads the country in job creation, he said.

“Imagine our economy as a ladder we’re building together,” he said. “It will be a place where kids growing up in Parramore have a pathway from preschool to college, to career, all within walking distance. Students can take what they learned in a classroom and immediately put it to use in the real world.”

Dyer also said diversity was important, citing recent controversies in Georgia and North Carolina causing large companies to boycott those states. He said Orlando had to remain committed to creating a welcoming atmosphere for everyone.

“In recent days, we’ve seen some of the biggest companies in the world voice their unhappiness with Georgia and North Carolina over how those governments are seeking to infringe upon the rights of those who are different. I would say to those companies, give us a call. Maybe it’s time for a location change.”

In conclusion, Dyer cited a recent New York Times piece in which the author, columnist Thomas Friedman, describes the essential characteristics he perceived the 21st century’s defining city would have.

“He said it’s cities where coalitions made up the business community, educators and local government come together to forge hybrid solutions to improve their competitiveness and resilience, that are going to change the world,” Dyer said. “Now, does that sound like any city we know? Sounds like Orlando to me.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.