2018 State of the County
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs welcomed hundreds of residents to her eighth and final State of the County address at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on May 18, 2018.
Mayor Jacobs was greeted by a standing ovation and took residents on a journey that highlighted the accomplishments and legacy she leaves as a two-term mayor elected in 2010. She previously served as an Orange County Commissioner from 2000 to 2008.
Under Mayor Jacobs’ leadership and through strong economic growth and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars — that continue to support public safety, affordable housing, infrastructure, economic development, parks, pedestrian safety, road construction and transportation improvements, and new mental health programs for children and families — Orange County has undergone transformational quality-of-life enhancements that will benefit the region for generations to come.
Since taking office in 2011, Mayor Jacobs’ priority has been to create a sustainable future of ever-growing economic prosperity and opportunity for all, built upon Orange County’s innovation-driven, forward-focused investments. In addition to the key community needs identified in Mayor Jacobs’ $300 million “INVEST in Our Home for Life” initiative, Orange County’s focus has included the creation of a diverse arts, sports and recreation environment; as well as the preservation of natural resources for families and neighborhoods, efficient roads and transit systems, a broad array of public safety, and children and family resources.
HIGHLIGHTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Since January 2011, almost 160,000 jobs have been created in the region, with unemployment falling from 10.7 percent to 3.2 percent in March 2018. Many of those jobs can be attributed to company headquarter relocations and expansion projects with Amazon, ADP, KPMG, Lockheed Martin and VOXX. And with the region hosting 72 million guests in 2017 — the eighth year in a row as the nation’s No. 1 travel destination — tourism and hospitality continue to be critical industry sectors in Orange County, generating $70 billion dollars in economic impact and supporting roughly one in three jobs.
As a result, Central Florida was ranked first in the nation for job growth, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally, Forbes magazine ranked the metro Orlando region No. 1 to invest in a home with an estimated 84,000 building permits issued in Orange County valued at $2.3 billion. Orange County earned the highest AAA credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service, recognizing its fiscal reliability and continued quality-of-life enhancements.
When it comes to quality of life, Orange County has also raised the bar with the acclaimed Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and Seneff Arts Plaza, the renovated Camping World Stadium and the Amway Center. These community venues have hosted millions of fans, athletes and performers at events such as the NFL ProBowl, The NBA All-Star Game, Orlando City Soccer and Orlando PRIDE games, COPA America Centenario, and WrestleMania.
Additionally, during Mayor Jacobs’ time in office, she launched many local economic initiatives that have evolved into signature annual traditions including the Economic Summit, Tech Match, Simulation Summit, the Modeling Simulation and Training Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Central Florida International Trade Office and Business Assistance for Neighborhood Corridors Program.
NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS
Mayor Jacobs shared her vision and commitment to tackling the national issue of affordable housing on a local level. For sustainable progress, she brought key regional players together — including planners, technical advisors, builders and developers — to offer recommendations for a successful regional and collaborative approach. The result of Orange County’s Affordable Housing Executive Summary and Recommendations will serve as a blueprint for Central Florida and will focus on a range of resources to help low-income families and individuals succeed.
During the State of the County address, Mayor Jacobs placed extra emphasis on Orange County’s culture of collaboration, care and compassion and a new era of recovery and discovery, tragedy and triumph, unity and resilience that makes Orange County the best place to live, work, and rise a family.
Mayor Jacobs also touched on her public engagement programs, including the success of her Youth Leadership Conferences, Holiday Heroes Toy Drive, Adopt a Fire Station, the Let’s Read initiative for youth and more.
PUBLIC SAFETY PRIORITIES
Mayor Jacobs then spoke to some of the most challenging issues facing our community today. In 2015, Mayor Jacobs convened the Orange County Heroin Task Force in response to the national opioid crisis. After Mayor Jacobs testified before both the House and Senate subcommittees in 2016, as well as vigorous advocacy at the state level, Naloxone, a life-saving overdose reversal, is now carried by all Orange County and City of Orlando law enforcement officers, including EMT and medical personnel. Another outcome of the Task Force is that the state has adopted Orange County’s recommendation to make Naloxone available without a prescription.
Building on a commitment to public safety, Orange County also took the lead on youth mental health by convening the Youth Mental Health Task Force in 2013, which included families and experts from the education, treatment and law enforcement sectors. As a result, Wraparound Orange — Orange County’s broadest response tool — was expanded to include youth up to the age of 21. Additionally, state grants assisted in the Crisis Intervention Team Training for law enforcement officers, with a special focus on youth. And, Orange County created a model program for children experiencing a true mental health crisis, the Children’s Mobile Crisis service.
In May 2018, Orange County took another important public safety step by closing the “gun show loophole” through the unanimous passage of an ordinance that requires criminal background checks and a three-day waiting period for anyone purchasing a firearm at a gun show, flea market or firearms exhibit — a requirement that otherwise only applied if the firearm was from a licensed gun dealer.
REFLECTING ON MEMORIES IN OUR HEARTS
Mayor Jacobs shared her personal remembrance on the Pulse nightclub tragedy and called upon the audience to take a moment of silence to remember the 49 lost and their family and friends, as well as those who were physically injured and those who bear the deep emotional scars of survival. Mayor Jacobs also acknowledged Pulse Nightclub owner Barbara Poma, the onePULSE Foundation, the LGBTQ, LatinX and Hispanic communities and commended Heart of Florida United Way and the City of Orlando for joining Orange County in opening the Orlando United Assistance Center, which remains open today.
In addition to releasing a statement about the Santa Fe school shooting that occurred earlier that day, Mayor Jacobs dedicated a portion of her speech to remembering those lives lost in Texas.
Mayor Jacobs paid tribute to the law enforcement officers in Central Florida who tragically lost their lives in the line of duty since 2011. The community continues to remember their legacy and sacrifice and will always hold their families near our hearts.
TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES AND GROWING ONLINE ENGAGEMENT
From public safety to public engagement, over the past eight years, Orange County has created a full suite of cutting-edge apps. From online emergency management apps like OCFL Alert, to transparency and citizen engagement apps like OCFL News, OCFL Atlas and OCFL 311, Orange County has pioneered technological advances to help residents stay more connected with their government.
Orange County’s Social Media and Technology Workgroup, which has expanded to represent a broad range of community partners, municipalities and stakeholders spanning education, health, technology, hospitality, arts, culture and transportation sectors, kicked off the conversation before the 2018 State of the County address using the locally created photo booth experience, Gifn. Throughout the State of the County address, these digital influencers promoted the live stream of the event and milestones highlighted during the event.
Mayor Jacobs touted the success of the region’s extraordinary transportation system. Over the next five years, the region will invest nearly $12 billion dollars in Central Florida’s massive transportation system with improvements to I-4, the opening of SunRail Phase 2, expansion of the Orlando International Airport and the completion of Orlando’s beltway, the Wekiva Parkway. Through Orange County’s $200 million INVEST in Our Home for Life program, more than 200 miles of local roads will also be constructed, improved, widened or rebuilt.
PROGRESS ON OUR HOME FOR LIFE
Mayor Jacobs outlined how Orange County’s Sustainability Plan, Our Home for Life, provides a road map for a more prosperous, resilient and diverse economy; healthy natural resources; and a thriving, creative and innovative environment. Above all, the plan supports a culture unique to Orange County — one that cares for those in need, and a culture that celebrates diversity as its greatest strength, where optimism, hope and kindness prevail.
Together, with regional partners and neighboring municipalities, Orange County has transformed into a strong, resilient, unified and prosperous world-class community for our residents, families and guests to enjoy.
Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association President and CEO Rich Maladecki provided the introduction and the mistress of ceremonies was Monica May, host of the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Reverend José Rodriguez of the Episcopal Church of Jesus of Nazareth provided the invocation. Jacklyn Dougherty of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America and Vionn Welcome of the Boy Scouts of America led the Pledge of Allegiance, and the colors were presented by a joint honor guard from Orange County Fire Rescue and Corrections. The Jones High School Opus Singers and Brass Quintet delivered the preamble.
For additional statistics, to watch a recap and read the 2018 State of the County speech, please visit www.ocfl.net/soc18.