As we look back on another remarkable year in Orange County, I am deeply proud to reflect on our extraordinary accomplishments of 2017.
From opening our newest inclusive playground, Young Pine Park, featuring an accessible area for children of all abilities, as well as braille signs for the visually impaired and ramps and swings for children in wheelchairs — to embracing our future generation of leaders through our Let’s Read initiative, our Youth Leadership Conference and the groundbreaking of the University of Central Florida and Valencia College Downtown campus, we continue to Invest in Our Home for Life.
A key factor in propelling Orange County’s bright future is the strength of our local economy. In 2017, the region welcomed the continued strengthening of our economy, with the expansion of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, which will bring 500 new high-wage jobs to Orange County, along with $200 million in capital investment. Additionally, KPMG’s new 55-acre state-of-the art training center will make a $430 million capital investment in Orange County and bring 80 high-wage jobs to the community, with an additional 250 third-party contract positions. Amazon.com Inc.’s new fulfillment center, the region’s largest jobs announcement in 2017, will create 1,500 new full-time jobs with benefits, as well as opportunities to engage with Amazon Robotics in a highly technological workplace when it opens in 2018.
Through strategic investments, Orange County continues to change lives and transform our community. In the next five years, the region will invest $11.7 billion in Central Florida’s massive transportation infrastructure with improvements on the I-4 Ultimate and Beyond, SunRail, Orlando International Airport and roadways through the Expressway Authority, including the Wekiva Parkway.
Providing superior opportunities for arts and recreation continues to be a strong focus. In January of this past year, Camping World Stadium hosted 60,834 fans for the National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl – the first time Florida has hosted a Pro Bowl since 2010! Media reports estimated the economic impact of the Pro Bowl in Orlando at $25 million. Following the great success of its first year in Orlando, the NFL Pro Bowl will return to Camping World Stadium on January 28, 2018! And who can forget the fans from around the world who descended upon Orange County for a week-long lineup of festivities to celebrate WrestleMania 2017 in April? The sold-out, pop-culture extravaganza at Camping World Stadium was broadcast on the WWE network on April 2, 2017 and had a $181 million economic impact in Central Florida.
Also in 2017, we kicked off construction on the final phase of the dazzling Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, fulfilling a long-held promise to our local community. We’re counting down to the 2020 grand opening of the newest component of this nationally acclaimed performing arts center!
Not only did 2017 see our community come together for an unforgettable one-year observance of the Pulse tragedy, as Orange County joined the City of Orlando, onePULSE Foundation and our extended community for Orlando United Day – an annual hallowed remembrance, it also marked a year of significant investment and progress for families, youth and at-risk adults. As Mayor, providing for the public safety, health and welfare of Orange County’s citizens has been a top priority. During this past year, Orange County strengthened the safety net for those in need, with special emphasis on impacting affordable housing, domestic violence and child abuse, veteran, chronic and family homelessness, youth and adult mental health, and opioid, drug and alcohol addiction. From the grand opening of Goldenrod Pointe – which pioneers a new model in housing for low income families – to kicking off “Impact Families,” a pilot program intended to test and evaluate a new system of care for families who find themselves homeless in our region, we continue to care for our most vulnerable children and families.
In the wake of both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, and in keeping with our culture of care and compassion, Orange County Government continues to support our brothers and sisters from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico who have been impacted by Hurricane Maria. In partnership with FEMA, the State of Florida, you and our many community and faith-based organizations, the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, the Office of First Lady of Puerto Rico, Mrs. Beatriz Rosselló, the Hispanic Federation, CASA, the Heart of Florida United Way, Latino Leadership and the American Red Cross, we are working collaboratively to assist in relief and recovery efforts. Throughout these recent disasters, the support and mutual cooperation that our community displayed has been truly remarkable.
Together, and with our community partners and neighboring municipalities, we have built a strong, resilient, unified and prosperous community for our residents, families and guests to enjoy. As home to more than 1.2 million residents, and as the world’s top travel and leisure destination — with a record-breaking 68 million visitors — our Orange County is truly the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.
I am honored to present this 2017 Year in Review, and look forward to our continued efforts to grow our culture of collaboration, compassion and confidence. With best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.