With the Orlando market leading the nation in jobs creation for three straight years, the focus needs to be on “the American Dream,” Tim Giuliani said Monday.
“I think one of the easiest parts of our jobs is making highlight reels for Orlando,” said Giuliani, president of the Orlando Economic Partnership, told the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2019 Economic Outlook and Jobs Summit in Orlando’s Lake Nona Monday. “We’re really, the way we like to look at it, three-time national champions in creating jobs.”
“A lot of that is coming from STEM positions and when you look at manufacturing employment, where at various points we’ve led the nation in those categories as well,” he added.
The core of the area, the Orlando Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Orange, Osceola, Lake, and Seminole Counties, saw 4.6 percent growth from November, 2017, to November, 2018. Meanwhile, Brevard County emerged in 2018 as the state’s county with the most diverse economy.
The seven-county Central Florida area, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Lake, Seminole, Volusia and Brevard counties, has been growing by about 1,000 people a week for 60 years, so that one in nine Central Florida residents is new to the area since 2010, he said.
That’s being fueled by immigration, with about half of the newcomers arriving from different countries.
“You’re looking at a region that is not only growing very fast, the population of Central Florida is becoming more and more diverse, which necessitates our region’s understanding of these cultures and also accommodating and propelling them to prosperity here in America. So really Central Florida is all about the American Dream and that’s where our focus needs to be,” Giuliani said.
There also are concerns, particularly with low-incomes. Giuliani noted that Central Florida counties, particularly Polk, Osceola, and Orange, have high levels of residents who are in the economic class of “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed,” meaning they work fulltime, have low incomes, and little prospect of moving up.
“When you look at the number of people who are listed as ALICE households in Central Florida, over the last several years, not one of these counties has seen improvement,” he said.
“So this is a part of the prosperity agenda that we need to pay attention to,” he continued.
With the region’s economy “changing so drastically on so many levels,” the Orlando Economic Partnership is focusing on several strategies. Among the keys:
– Strengthen Orlando’s economy needs to focus on spreading out the prosperity. Giuliani noted that wages increased to the highest levels yet, “so we need to keep that momentum going,” he said.
– Amplify Orlando’s story and brand to include more national recognition of the area’s growing technology and manufacturing sectors, and championing regional priorities such as is going on at the BRIDG development in Osceola, which could bring 3,000-4,000 high wage jobs over the next couple of years in an area with a high percentage of ALICE households.