Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Orlando is known around the world for its major entertainment attractions, especially Walt Disney World, Epcot, and the film studios. Representing a 4.7 percent increase from the previous year, nearly 45 million tourists and conventioneers visited Orlando in 2003, pumping about $24.9 billion into the region's economy.
Behind the scenes of the area's tourism and entertainment industry is a dynamic and diversified economy that has expanded enormously. Among its most important industry sectors are high technology, aviation and aerospace, film and television production, biotechnology, and manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution.
The aviation and aerospace industry has had a foothold in the Orlando area for decades. The flight training industry was drawn to the area's favorable year-round climate, and military air bases were established in World War II. Since then, with a number of international and regional airports and thriving high technology expertise, the area has given rise to companies providing aircraft and ground support services; Signature Air Services, one of the largest such companies in the world, is based in Orlando. Some of the world's most advanced flight training schools, such as Delta Connection Academy and FlightSafety International, are located in the area. Lockheed Martin Corp., a major defense contractor, has a strong presence in metro Orlando, and The Boeing Co. and Harris Corp. are among Florida's top contractors.
The influx of technology-related companies to the area has made Orlando one of the fastest growing high technology centers in the nation. The metro area has the country's largest concentration of modeling, simulation and training (MS&T) businesses, research centers, and educational facilities. The MS&T sector, which has its roots in military services, provides applications in such diverse fields as homeland security, emergency services, entertainment, information and medical technologies, optics and photonics, and transportation. It accounts for more than 100 area companies and $2.5 billion in gross regional product. Another strong segment of the high technology industry is software. This field, another off-shoot of military applications, focuses on financial services but includes other areas like utilities, billing, higher education, multimedia, animation, and military training. More than 1,000 software companies are based in Metro Orlando, generating nearly $1 billion in annual revenue.
Motion picture and television production is a major element in Orlando's economy. Metro Orlando was a $586 million market in 2003, up from $2.5 million only 15 years prior. Work ranges from major motion pictures and network series to studio activities. Digital media combines two of Orlando's top industries—MS&T and film/television production—into a $9 billion per year enterprise. Known as one of the nation's top 12 clusters for digital media, Orlando employs 30,000 workers in more than 1,000 digital media companies. The field's applications include website design, interactive video, video game development, military simulations, special effects, theme park ride and shows, and computer animation.
Also benefiting from the area's specialization in high technology is the field of advanced manufacturing. Companies involved in this field provide high tech parts for a broad range of products and applications, such as power generation systems, wireless communications, computers, medical imaging, instruments and control, and automotive systems. Among the largest advanced manufacturers in the area are Agere Systems Inc., Mitsubishi Power Systems Inc., and Westinghouse Power Corp.
In addition to advanced manufacturing, Orlando is a prime locale for other types of manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution. New manufacturers have been attracted in part by Orlando's efficient air service, low cost of doing business, growing work force, and high quality of life. Approximately 2,200 manufacturing companies are located there, including Hughes Supply Inc. and Constar International Inc. Plastics is a key sector, with Tupperware Corp. leading the field. Other important manufacturing segments include metal fabrication and parts, infrastructure materials, defense, power plant systems, microelectronics, and laser equipment. As for distribution, Metro Orlando is one of the world's few quadramodal transportation centers, with the ability to transport goods via land, air, sea, and space. The area's network of interstate highways, its international and regional airports, and its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center and the Port of Tampa, combine to give Orlando a distribution advantage over other areas. Major distributors in the area include DaimlerChrysler Corp., Kraft Foods Nabisco Division, Circuit City Stores Inc., and Whirlpool Corp. Moreover, Metro Orlando's warehousing capabilities include 67.9 million square feet of industrial space, in which such items as restaurant equipment, healthcare products, auto parts, and consumer electronics are stored.
Orlando's fertile farmlands, regional healthcare system, and expertise in photonics and MS&T have given rise to a strong biotechnology industry. More than 500 biotechnology and life sciences companies earn $3.6 billion each year in such areas as research, clinical trials, agricultural sciences, and medical training. This vibrant field has applications in industrial food ingredients, plant reproduction, bioterrorism defense, medical products, and modeling systems for laboratories.
Items and goods produced: aviation and aerospace equipment, computer software, power generation systems, wireless communications, processed foods, plastic products, agricultural products, data systems equipment, film and video productions, metal fabrication and parts, power plant systems, microelectronics, and laser equipment
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
The Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission attracts new business investment by marketing the Orlando region worldwide as a top location for business. It also works with local companies to assist them with expansion plans and other business concerns. Its key services and support range from relocation and expansion expertise to export counsel to long-term planning with its community partners. Orange County commissioners aggressively provide inducements, such as tax credits and refunds for developing jobs and properties in targeted areas, to companies that will have a significant impact on the economy. The city of Orlando also offers incentives to new or expanding businesses, including tax credits, assistance with development fees, and discounts on film production costs.
Enterprise Florida is a partnership between Florida's government and business leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. Enterprise Florida's mission is to increase economic opportunities for all Floridians by supporting the creation of quality jobs, a well-trained workforce, and globally competitive businesses. It pursues this mission in cooperation with its statewide network of economic development partners.
Among the incentive programs managed at the state level is the Economic Development Transportation Fund, which provides up to $2 million to fund the cost of transportation projects, such as access roads and road widening, required for the establishment, expansion, or retention of businesses in Florida. The state's Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund rewards the creation of jobs in certain industries. Florida also offers various sales and use tax exemptions for machinery and equipment purchase, electric energy, research and development, and other aspects of doing business in the area.
Job training programs
Workforce Central Florida, representing Metro Orlando, is the regional arm of Workforce Florida Inc., an agency charged with administering the stat's workforce policy, programs, and services. Quick Response Training is a state-administered program that provides funding for customized training for new or expanding businesses, while Incumbent Worker Training serves existing businesses.
In a developmental about-face, in recent years attention has shifted away from theme parks to downtown Orlando, where many of the most high-profile projects are taking place in the central city. High-rise offices and apartments are being built, and the city hopes that such projects will accelerate the downtown's evolution to a 24-hour hub of activity for the tens of thousands of newcomers who move to Orlando each year. In the city's northeast corner, the former Orlando Naval Training Center is slated to be redeveloped into a self-contained community where some 5,000 people could be living by 2010. In the city's southeast corner, new neighborhoods are taking shape near the ever-growing Orlando International Airport. The largely undeveloped area is expected to become home to more than 28,000 residents by 2020, with millions of square feet in retail, office, industrial, hotel, and government space also available. Millions of dollars have been spent to revitalize the city's historic, African-American Parramore neighborhood. By 2020 the Central Business District is expected to be a distinct family-oriented portion of downtown Orlando, complete with theaters, galleries, museums, and parks, as well as office and retail space.
The Sanctuary, a $60 million residential, office, and retail development, is slated for completion in 2005. The following year will see the completion of two other developments, The Vue at Lake Eola and the Premier Trade Plaza. Office, residential, and retail space will also be available at 55 West on the Esplanade, a $140 million project.
Economic Development Information: Downtown Development Board/Community Redevelopment Agency, 400 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)246-2555; fax (407)246-3359. Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, 301 E. Pine St., Ste. 900, Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)422-7159; fax (407)425-6428; email [email protected]
With global shipping opportunities via air, land, sea, and space, Metro Orlando is one of the world's few quadramodal transportation centers. Orlando International Airport is the 15th largest in the U.S. and 23rd largest in the world. It offers non-stop service to 72 domestic cities, more than any other airport in Florida. The airport is also the site of Foreign Trade Zone #42, an area that permits foreign goods to be stored or processed without import duty. The Orlando/Sanford International Airport is the site of Foreign Trade Zone #250, the largest trade zone in Florida. The Orlando area has more than 30 trucking company terminals, and because Florida has deregulated the trucking industry within its borders, many shippers report rates of 10 percent or less than the national average. Interstates 4 and 95 provide access to many areas throughout the state and the Southeast, and 62 motor freight carriers have local terminals or warehouses. Amtrak provides commercial rail service, and CSX Transportation and Florida Central Railroad transport cargo. CSX Intermodal has a terminal located in Orlando. Orlando's nearest navigable waterways are at Sanford, 20 miles away, Port Canaveral, 40 miles away, and Port of Tampa, 84 miles away. The nearby Kennedy Space Center offers deep water ports as well as launch facilities.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
According to National Real Estate Investor, Metro Orlando added 19,300 jobs in 2003, an increase of 2.1 percent from the previous year. This momentum is expected to continue, as Orlando was projected by Business 2.0 magazine in 2003 to have the nation's second-highest ten-year job growth rate, 31.9 percent, through 2013. Much of that increase will derive from the area's key growth sectors, including software, film and television production, aviation and aerospace, biotechnology, and modeling, simulation and training. The available labor pool in these industries is dependent on the availability of educational programs in those fields. In this respect, Orlando not only provides the demand for quality personnel, it creates the supply.
The University of Central Florida offers programs specifically designed to train students for many of these industries. Among them are the Institute for Simulation and Training, Center for Advanced Transportation Systems Simulation, School of Film and Digital Media, Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, Center for Applied Human Factors in Aviation, Aerospace Engineering Program, Space Education and Research Center, and Biomolecular Science Center. Other regional schools, such as Valencia Community College and Seminole Community College, offer degrees in industry-related fields. The Florida Simulation Center, National Center for Simulation, and the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School offers similar programs. Flight training schools like Delta Connection Academy and FlightSafety International operate independently or in cooperation with such organizations as Lockheed Martin Corp. and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Orlando metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 925,700
Number of workers employed in . . .
trade, transportation and utilities: 174,000
financial activities: 57,100
professional and business services: 154,300
educational and health services: 93,500
leisure and hospitality: 169,900
other services: 46,100
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.09 (2003 statewide average)
Unemployment rate: 3.8% (December 2004)
|Largest employers||Number of employees|
|Walt Disney World||53,500|
|Orange County Public Schools||22,807|
|State of Florida Government||17,200|
|Adventist Health System||17,059|
|Wal-Mart Stores Inc.||13,139|
|Orlando Regional Healthcare System||12,754|
|Publix Supermarkets, Inc.||9,927|
Cost of Living
The cost of living in metro Orlando is lower than the national average. With the U.S. average at an index of 100, Orlando's grocery index is 95.3 and its housing index is 87.8 in 2004 (ACCRA data).
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Orlando area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $223,128
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 97.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: None for personal; 5.5% for corporations
State sales tax rate: 6.0%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: None for city; 0 to 1.0% for county
Property tax rate: $21.177 per $1,000 of assessed property value (2003)
Economic Information: Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, 301 E. Pine St., Ste. 900, Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)422-7159; fax (407)425-6428; email [email protected]
Orlando's many attractions, particularly its theme parks, bring visitors to the area from all over the world. In order to draw tourists and keep them coming back, new projects are always under development. New rides and exhibits are unveiled every year at Walt Disney World's four parks: the Magic Kingdom, with its seven themed lands; Epcot, which provides "journeys" to Future World and to the World Showcase; Disney-MGM Studios, where spectators can experience actual movie and television production; and Animal Kingdom, Disney World's largest attraction at 500 acres. Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, a high-technology movie-themed attraction with more than 40 rides, shows, shops, and restaurants, rank just below the Disney parks in annual attendance. Central Florida is served by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which is a combination amusement park and zoo with more than 2,700 animals. The area's newest family theme park is Cypress Gardens Adventure Park; once the first tourist attraction in central Florida, this park reopened in late 2004.
Gatorland offers the chance to observe thousands of alligators, birds, and animals; its alligator breeding marsh was seen in the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Shamu the Killer Whale is the focus at Sea World Orlando marine life park. River Country and Typhoon Lagoon near Walt Disney World are spectacular water parks with rapids, wave lagoons, slides and waterfalls. Wet 'n Wild, Blizzard Beach, and Water Mania offer family slide and tubing fun. Pleasure Island on the Disney site is an entire island of nighttime entertainment with music, shops, and movies.
A view of Florida's floral splendor is the attraction at Harry P. Leu Gardens, featuring the largest formal rose garden in Florida. Also on display are 50 acres of camellias, as well as palm, bamboo, herb, vegetable, and butterfly gardens.
Arts and Culture
Once known primarily for sunshine and oranges, Orlando is developing its arts and cultural profile as the city continues to grow. Part of the Centroplex facility, the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre stages performances by the Orlando Ballet, Orlando Opera, and Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. It is also the venue for Broadway musicals as well the Festival of Orchestras, a permanent concert series featuring at least five internationally acclaimed orchestras each season. Among the region's other musical groups are the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, whose members range from the third grade through college sophomore, and the Bach Festival Society, located in Winter Park. The Central Florida Performing Arts Alliance takes a leadership role in the theater and cultural community in the region. Based in Orlando, the alliance seeks to unite the performing arts, including theater, dance and music, by providing information, developing awareness for the arts, and building relationships with the community.
Orlando Loch Haven Park, a 45-acre cultural oasis, is home to some of Florida's finest facilities for the arts, sciences, and humanities. Among them is the Orlando Museum of Art, considered one of the South's finest museums. It offers permanent collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American, pre-Columbian, and African art, as well as summer art camp and studio classes. Also in the park is 207,000-square-foot Orlando Science Center, the largest facility of its kind in the Southeast and home to the world's largest combined Iwerks dome and digital planetarium, and the Mennello Museum of American Folk Art, Florida's only museum devoted solely to displaying vernacular work. Loch Haven is also the site of the Central Florida Civic Theatre, the Orlando Garden Club, and "The Mayor," one of Florida's oldest and largest oak trees.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park includes the world's most comprehensive collection of leaded and art glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany. An authentic 1926 firehouse complete with antique trucks, and Central Florida artifacts from pre-history, pioneer times, and the Victorian era are on view at the Orange County Regional History Center. Historic Bok Sanctuary, a national historic landmark located about 55 miles from Orlando in Lake Wales, offers tours of its historic bell tower, the visual centerpiece of a magnificent garden, which houses one of the world's great carillons.
The Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens displays 200 of the sculptor's works; the museum was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College houses more than 6,000 works of art. In nearby Eatonville, American's oldest African American municipality, the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts rotates exhibits of works by artists of African descent.
Festivals and Holidays
Fun and frolic abound at a variety of special events that attract residents and visitors alike in Greater Orlando. Kissimmee's Silver Spurs Rodeo in February attracts cowpokes from the U.S. and Canada to compete in an event billed as the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi. The Annual Bach Festival is also held in February, as are the GeorgeFest Washington's Birthday Festival, Valentine's Stroll at the Harry P. Leu Gardens, SeaWorld's Annual BBQ Fest, and the Festival of Rhythm & Blues in Kissimmee. The Central Florida Fair, which is approaching its centennial, is held in March. More than 110,000 Harley Davidson enthusiasts participate in Orlando Bike Week each March, and another 12,000 bikers arrive for Biketoberfest in October. Traditional and nontraditional Easter activities take place in Cocoa Beach at the Easter Surfing Festival, featuring an egg hunt and surfing competition, clinics, and demonstrations. April brings the Cabaret Festival, a two-week celebration of comedy and vocal performances, and the Fiesta Medina, Orlando's longest running Latin community festival. Orlando celebrates July Fourth with Fireworks Over the Fountain, a free fireworks display and laser show at Lake Eola. The two-week International Food & Wine Festival is held each autumn at Epcot. Halloween is celebrated at a number of local venues including Universal Studios Orlando, where the celebration lasts for 14 days. The lighting of Orlando's Great American Christmas Tree in early December ushers in the holiday season.
Several arts festivals are held in the region, including the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of Arts & Humanities in late January, and four spring festivals—the Leesburg Fine Art Festival, Winter Park's Sidewalk Art Festival, Maitland Spring Festival of the Arts, and Downtown Orlando Contemporary Arts Festival. The Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival presents Shakespearean works performed by professional actors at the Lake Eola Amphitheater in April. It is followed by the Florida Film Festival, one of the top film festivals in the nation, and the Orlando International Fringe Festival, featuring more than 300 performing artists and theatrical troupes.
Sports for the Spectator
The wildly popular Orlando Magic National Basketball Association team plays its home games at the TD Waterhouse Centre from November through April. The Centre is also home to the Orlando Predators, who play arena football from April through August; the Orlando Miracles, a team in the Women's National Basketball Association; and the Orlando Seals, an Atlantic Coast Hockey League team founded in 2002. Tinker Field is the site of the minor league baseball contests of the Orlando Rays, the AA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Harness racing is the attraction at the Ben White Raceway and jai alai is the focus at Orlando-Seminole Jai Alai fronton.
Football fans kick off the new year with the Capital One Bowl, a college contest held on New Year's Day at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. This stadium is also home to University of Central Florida Knights football games, the Superbowl of Motorsports, and the AMA Supercross Series. The Champs Sports Bowl is an annual college event that takes place in December. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy the Bay Hill Invitational each in March and the Disney Oldsmobile Golf Classic in October.
Sports for the Participant
Metro Orlando is a golf and tennis mecca with more than 80 golf courses and more than 800 tennis courts. Nearly 2,000 freshwater lakes offer a paradise for boating enthusiasts and swimmers. For lovers of the sea, Orlando has the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico within a one and one-half hour drive. More than 100 campgrounds and thousands of acres of national forest are available to hunters and campers. Orlando itself has about 3,000 acres of park land and more than 30 recreation facilities.
Shopping and Dining
Orlando provides a delightful array of combination shopping/entertainment experiences. The Florida Mall, anchored by Saks, Gayfers, J.C. Penney, Dillard's, and Sears, is central Florida's largest shopping center. The Mall at Millenia, also located in Orlando, offers dozens of specialty retailers as well as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, and Macy's. Located across from the Orange County Convention Center, Pointe Orlando is an open-air complex that features more than 60 retailers, seven restaurants, and entertainment facilities. Unique settings are offered by the Mercado (A Festive World Marketplace), which features 75 specialty shops, themed restaurants, free nightly entertainment, and Titanic—The Exhibition. The Church Street Station has more than 40 shops and restaurants in a Victorian atmosphere. Discount shoppers may find treasures among the 110 shops at Orlando Premium Outlets and the more than 160 outlet stores in the Belz Factory Outlet World/Belz Designer Outlet Centre. Across the street from the Belz shopping centers is Festival Bay at International Drive, a retail and entertainment mall.
Orlando offers a wide array of dining experiences from fast-food and family restaurants, to lavish fine-dining establishments and novelty eateries. The region's 5,043 restaurants can satisfy any palate, from sushi to steak and pasta to grits. A unique specialty is gator tail or gator "nuggets," true Florida-only fare. The pleasant weather permits many outdoor dining settings, as well as meals aboard a paddle wheel steamer. American, Indian, Italian, Chinese, Continental, Japanese, and Mediterranean cuisine–all are available in greater Orlando.
Visitor Information: Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc., 6700 Forum Dr., Ste. 100, Orlando, FL; 32821-8017; telephone (407)354-5586; fax (407)370-5002
ORLANDO (and the Central Florida area). Drawn by cotton and cattle in the 1850s–1860s, some Jews came to Orlando with other pioneers to this "old west" style town. Records show that after the Civil War there were about 16 Jewish families. A Jew, Jacob Raphael Cohen, bought a store in 1873, and in 1875 he helped write the city charter and was elected an alderman. Merchant A.H. Birnbaum was a member of Orlando's first fire department and was elected alderman in 1886. In the beginning the Sanford Jewish community was larger than Orlando's. Jews arrived in Sanford by 1892. Kanner Highway (Route 76) in Martin County was named for Abram Otto "A.O." Kanner, son of Charles and Pauline of Sanford, who arrived from Romania. A.O. was born in 1893 in Sanford, attended Stetson University Law School, and then had a 40-year political career in Florida.
The citrus industry played a significant role in the development of central Florida. Dr. Philip Phillips arrived in Orlando in 1897 to buy land for citrus groves; his empire grew to over 5,000 acres, and in 1954 the business was sold to Minute Maid. Pauline and Nat Berman settled in 1908. Active civically and Jewishly, Pauline had her own radio show and was the nation's first woman radio news commentator. The Benedict, Phillips, Kanner, Salomon, and Berman families comprised the Jewish community of Orlando from 1900 until the Pittsburgh migration in 1912 (Wittenstein, Shader, Meitin, Levy, and Levine families). By 1915 other families settled and religious services were held in a citrus grove. Prior to the entry of the U.S. into World War i, a parade and rally drew every organization in the city as participants. After it was publicly noted that no Jewish group was present, Pauline Berman gathered the community at the home of Harry Kanner and spoke out that Orlando Jewry needed to organize a congregation. On August 30, 1918, Congregation Ohev Shalom was chartered and a church was purchased at the corner of Terry and Central Avenues; the dues were $1.00 per month. In 1926 B'nai B'rith was chartered and a cemetery opened in 1928. Prior to this, Jews were taken to Jacksonville (1857) or Tampa (1894) for burial. Jewish families from Paterson, New Jersey, and other northeastern cities, as well as other Florida cities, came to Orlando. Jews formed their own social and recreational clubs since they were denied memberships in others.
Harry and Minerva Nirenberg moved in 1937 with children Joan and Marshall because Marshall had rheumatic fever. Harry bought a dairy, was active at Ohev Shalom, and then was a founder of Congregation of Liberal Judaism. When he was a youngster, Marshall collected bugs from the swamp and sent specimens to a museum. He graduated from Orlando High School in 1944 and the University of Florida four years later. In 1968 Dr. Marshall Warren *Nirenberg received the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for being the first to discover a code equivalence between a nucleic acid component and an amino acid.
Some families who settled in the 1930s and 1940s were fruit and vegetable growers and buyers. Well-known citrus labels were: Select-O-Sweet, Lady in Red, Richfruit, Emerald Fruit, Moto-Cop, meg and Babijuice. Albertson, Heller, Jacob, Meitin, Shader, Morrell, Bornstein, Echelman, Willner, Arost, Miller, and Zimmerman were among the Jewish people who grew, packed, and shipped fruit nationwide over the second half of the 20th century. In 1940 Orlando became the air capital of the armed forces, which brought more Jewish families to the area. Many who were stationed or received training there returned to make their homes in the central Florida area. After twice escaping from Siberian concentration camps during World War i, George Terry arrived at Ellis Island in 1920 with $40. The advent of World War ii brought him to Florida, where he bought 70,000 acres in southeast Orange County to raise cattle.
After World War ii, Orlando experienced a population boom. The Martin Company moved there in 1956 to manufacture missiles for Cape Canaveral. Martin employed hundreds of Jews in many occupations and at every level and has been a major supplier of defense systems to Israel. Housing was needed, which brought more Jews as builders and developers. By 1960 the population had doubled. New organizations were formed to address the needs of the larger Jewish community (Hadassah in 1948; Jewish Community Council in 1949; Congregation of Liberal Judaism in 1950; Temple Israel in 1954; and Women's American ort in 1964). Jews entertained in their homes because "everyone knew everyone else" and assumed roles in the business, civic and cultural life of the city.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: When Disney World opened in October 1971, the Central Florida area was changed forever. Orlando has become a "crossroads" of the state, with industry diversification and a distribution and service hub. Tourism and the hotel industry took giant leaps, and Jewish professionals, business people and service people – young and old – have made the Jewish community diverse and dynamic. Orlando is the #1 vacation capital and many visitors stay on to become residents. This was the greatest period of growth – from 4,000 Jews in 1971 to approximately 35,000 Jews in Central Florida in 2005. Agencies created include Kinneret (senior housing) in 1968 and 1979, Jewish Community Center in 1973, Hebrew Day School in 1976, Jewish Family Services in 1978, and Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in 1981. The Jewish campus grew from one room in an old house on the original jcc property in 1973 to a 53,000 square foot facility in Maitland that also houses the Jewish Federation, Hebrew Day School, and Holocaust Center. heritage Central Florida Jewish News was started in 1976, by Gene Starn "to provide a Jewish 'ta'am' so that the community will know what is going on in Jewish life, both here at home and worldwide." In 1982 Starn sold the paper to Jeff Gaeser who continued as the editor. In 2005 there were eight constituent agencies of the Federation: Central Florida Hillel, Jewish Pavilion (providing services to Jews in nursing homes), and top Jewish Foundation (in addition to those already mentioned). In the Central Florida area there were three Orthodox congregations, five Conservative, seven Reform, and two Reconstructionist. There were Judaic Studies Programs at University of Central Florida and Rollins College, Chevra Kadisha, Florida Kosher Services, Hadassah, ort, Israel Bonds, Jewish National Fund and Jewish War Veterans. The Central Florida area was thriving Jewishly, with strong expansion in the southern part of town.
[Marcia Jo Zerivitz (2nd ed.)]
City Built Around Fort
The last 170 years have been a time of phenomenal change for what was once referred to as "The Phenomenal City." Prior to the arrival of the first European settlers in 1837, the area that is now Orlando was occupied by the Seminole tribe of Native Americans. Historians believe that the Seminoles, whose named is said to mean "wild and separate," inhabited the Central Florida region for 6,000 to 12,000 years. The Second Seminole War, which spanned the period from 1835 to 1842, began when disagreements arose between the natives and the American settlers on such issues as land, cattle, and slaves. In the years following the war the natives moved away, leaving the pioneers who built their town around Fort Gatlin. Until 1845 Orange County, of which the city of Orlando is the county seat, was known as Mosquito County. Tradition holds that Orlando was named after Orlando Reeves, an American soldier on sentinel duty for a scouting party. While Reeves' companion slept, a native approached disguised as a rolling log. Reeves, seeing what was occurring, fired his gun, woke the other soldiers, and saved them from peril. However, Reeves himself succumbed to an arrow shot by the native. Prior to receiving the name Orlando in 1857, the town was known as Jernigan, after Aaron Jernigan, a settler from Georgia. The first post office was established in 1850.
Citrus Industry Spurs Development
Prior to the 1880s, the two biggest industries in central Florida were cattle breeding and cotton growing. During the 1880s some of the pioneers started growing citrus trees. The growth of Orlando in size and prosperity was associated with the need for better transportation to citrus markets on the part of citrus growers. The city had its first rail lines by 1881, and during the 1880s and 1890s there was an influx of new fruit growers. In 1885 Rollins College was founded in Winter Park. By 1886 the city's streets were lined with office buildings, churches, hotels, and schools, and tourists from the north began to spend summers in the area.
Disaster struck in 1894 when a three-day freeze destroyed nearly all the citrus trees in Orange County. The freeze had a devastating effect on the community, which suffered losses of an estimated $100 million. Packing plants closed, banks closed, people lost their jobs, and it was 15 years before Orlando fully recovered.
City Attains Major Status
Between 1910 and 1920 the population of Orlando doubled, and the city was transformed from a rural citrus growing area to a major city. During the 1920s a great building boom aided in Orlando's continuing prosperity, evidenced by the opening of the Orlando Public Library in 1923 and the Municipal Auditorium (now Bob Carr Auditorium) in 1926. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the federal government's Works Progress Administration programs aided in the upgrading of the Municipal Airport, the building of a new football stadium at Tinker Field, and park development, and by 1944 many new jobs had been created.
Another building boom followed World War II, and new suburbs, new roadways, and new shopping centers were built. In 1956 the forerunner of the Lockheed Marietta company began operations, becoming the largest employer in Central Florida. Gradually many more companies and workers followed.
In 1968 Florida Technological University (now called the University of Central Florida) opened its doors. That same year marked the beginning of the Orlando Naval Training Center.
City Becomes World-Class Tourist Site
The development of Walt Disney World in 1971 spurred a construction boom that included apartment buildings, hotels and motels, banks, commercial shopping areas, and tourist-related businesses. The city's Municipal Justice Building was erected in 1972 and Sea World of Florida followed in 1973. Tourism increased, thanks to tourist sites such as Epcot Center built in 1982, and the Disney-MGM Studios theme park, which opened in 1989. To the dismay of many local people, what had once been a sleepy backwater town was rapidly becoming a world class tourist mecca. The town of Orlando was recognized as one of the world's most popular vacation sites.
The economic climate during the 1990s and 2000s was marked by diversification. The tools and technologies that were once geared toward military services were applied to the business sector, and the region developed into a high technology corridor. Industries like software, simulation, digital media, and biotechnology began to boom, fueling further growth and development. Tourism is still the city's primary industry, but Orlando has also developed a reputation for high tech businesses and industries both related and unrelated to the entertainment industry.
Historical Information: Orange County Regional History Center, 65 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)836-8500; toll-free (800)965-2030
Orlando: Education and Research
Orlando: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
In the state of Florida, each county is its own school district. The Orange County public school system is the twelfth largest district in the nation and is the fifth largest in Florida. It is divided into five communities. The Orange County school board consists of seven members who represent individual districts but are elected countywide. Members must live in the districts they represent while serving staggered, four-year terms. The superintendent is appointed.
The Orange County school district offers pre-kindergarten classes in 85 of its elementary schools. All high schools offer some advanced placement and honors courses. Magnet programs are available in all high schools and some elementary schools in such areas aviation/aerospace, language, fine arts, science, economics, medicine, law, finance, animal science, and international studies. Tech Prep and Architects for Tomorrow are two public-school programs that prepare young students for life after graduation. Programs are available for students who are physically or emotionally handicapped, learning disabled, speech and language or hearing impaired, autistic, or visually impaired. Occupational and physical therapy programs are also available. Gifted education programs are offered at elementary, middle, and high school level.
The following is a summary of data regarding Orlando's public schools as of the 2004–2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 174,060
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 108
junior high/middle schools: 27
senior high schools: 16
other: 4 alternative/exceptional schools
Student/teacher ratio: elementary, 16:1
Funding per pupil: $6,409
Public Schools Information: Orange County Public Schools, 445 W. Amelia St., Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)317-3200
Colleges and Universities
Within the Orlando area are two fully accredited four-year institutions of higher learning, Orlando's University of Central Florida (UCF) and Rollins College in Winter Park. UCF is a public state university based in Orlando and having three regional campuses. More than 42,000 students are offered undergraduate, graduate, and specialist programs in business, education, engineering, health sciences, nursing, as well as emerging fields of high technology, including aviation and aerospace, biotechnology, and modeling, simulation and training. Rollins College, a private institution, was founded in 1885. Primarily a coeducational liberal arts institution, Rollins College offers bachelor's degrees in 36 fields and graduate study in business administration, education, and psychology. With a total enrollment of 3,726, Rollins, which has produced Rhodes, Fulbright, Goldwater, and Truman scholars, is listed consistently by U.S. News & World Report magazine as one of "America's Best Colleges."
Valencia Community College, which serves more than 53,000 students, has six campuses and offers a science degree program in laser/electro-optics as well as a technical film training program. Seminole Community College, with an enrollment of 32,195, offers traditional academic and industry-oriented courses of study.
Libraries and Research Centers
The Orange County Library System consists of the Orlando Public Library and 14 branches. The system houses approximately two million books, periodicals, DVDs, CDs, art reproductions, slides and maps. Its special collections include the Walt Disney World Collection, the Florida Collection, the Genealogy Collection, and state documents.
Located adjacent to the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the Central Florida Research Park, one of the top science parks in the world. The park is a joint venture between the university and Orange County to promote relations between industry and the university. Consisting of about 1,000 acres, it is occupied by more than 80 companies in the fields of simulation and training, lasers, optical filters, behavioral sciences, diagnostic test equipment, and oceanographic equipment. One of the park's major tenants is the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, the world's leading simulation center for military training. Affiliated with UCF are a number of other research centers that focus on such diverse fields as electro-optics and lasers, tourism, sinkhole research, solar energy, and small business development.
Public Library Information: Orange County Library System, c/o Orlando Public Library, 101 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)835-7323.
Orlando: Population Profile
Orlando: Population Profile
Metropolitan Area Residents
Percent change, 1990–2000 34.2%
U.S. rank in 1980: 51st
U.S. rank in 1990: 37th
U.S. rank in 2000: 27th
2003 estimate: 199,336
Percent change, 1990–2000: 12.9%
U.S. rank in 1980: 124th
U.S. rank in 1990: 104th (State rank: 6th)
U.S. rank in 2000: 122nd (State rank: 6th)
Density: 1,988.9 people per square mile (based on 2000 land area)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 49,933
American Indian and Alaska Native: 638
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 150
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 32,510
Percent of residents born in state: 34% (2000)
Age characteristics (2000)
Population under 5 years old: 12,287
Population 5 to 9 years old: 12,104
Population 10 to 14 years old: 10,623
Population 15 to 19 years old: 10,203
Population 20 to 24 years old: 15,639
Population 25 to 34 years old: 39,206
Population 35 to 44 years old: 30,163
Population 45 to 54 years old: 21,614
Population 55 to 59 years old: 7,208
Population 60 to 64 years old: 5,820
Population 65 to 74 years old: 10,577
Population 75 to 84 years old: 7,753
Population 85 years and older: 2,754
Median age: 32.9 years
Births (Orange County, 2003)
Total number: 14,917
Deaths (Orange County, 2003)
Total number: 6,556 (of which, 123 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $21,216
Median household income: $35,732
Total households: 80,996
Number of households with income of . . .
less than $10,000: 8,182
$10,000 to $14,999: 5,574
$15,000 to $24,999: 12,583
$25,000 to $34,999: 13,178
$35,000 to $49,999: 15,226
$50,000 to $74,999: 13,869
$75,000 to $99,999: 6,159
$100,000 to $149,999: 3,695
$150,000 to $199,999: 1,117
$200,000 or more: 1,413
Percent of families below poverty level: 13.3% (53.9% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 21,133
Newspapers and Magazines
Orlando's daily (morning) newspaper is The Orlando Sentinel. The Orlando Times is a weekly newspaper focusing on the African American community, while the Orlando Business Journal speaks to the business community. Orlando Weekly is a weekly alternative newspaper covering news and entertainment in central Florida. A number of medical journals and religious magazines are also published in Orlando.
Television and Radio
Seven television channels serve the Greater Orlando area, including five network affiliates, one public station, and a Christian station. Cable television offers 66 channels. The city's 15 FM and five AM stations offer a variety of entertainment from music, to talk radio to public interest programs.
Media Information: The Orlando Sentinel, 633 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801-1349; telephone (407)420-5000
Downtown Development Board/Community Redevelopment Agency. Available www.downtownorlando.com
Florida Hospital. Available www.floridahospital.org
Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. Available www.business-orlando.org
Orange County Library System. Available www.ocls.info
Orange County Public Schools. Available www.ocps.k12.fl.us
Orange County Regional History Center. Available www.thehistorycenter.org
Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Available www.orlandoinfo.com
Orlando Sentinel. Available www.orlandosentinel.com
Hood, Bachmann, and Jones, Orlando: The City Beautiful (Memphis, TN: Towery Publishing, 1997)
McCain, Joan, Orlando: The City Beautiful (Orlando, FL: Tribune Publishers, 1991)
Approaching the City
Many travelers to the city arrive at the Orlando International Airport, one of the fastest growing major airports in the nation. Its 72 non-stop domestic destinations are the most of any airport in Florida. More than 23 million passengers came through the airport in 2004, a 14.4 percent increase from the previous year. Even faster growing is the Orlando/Sanford International Airport, which served more than 1.7 million passengers in 2004, an annual growth of 51.1 percent. It is the third most active international airport in Florida. Other options for air passengers to Orlando are Orlando Executive Airport, Kissimmee Gateway Airport, Leesburg Municipal Airport, and Mid-Florida Airport.
For drivers to Orlando, two major limited-access highway systems bisect Central Florida, the crossroads of the state's highway network. Interstate Highway 4 runs east and west across Florida from Daytona Beach, and Interstate 95 runs from Tampa to the Atlantic coast. Florida's Turnpike runs south to Miami and north to join Interstate 95. Greyhound Lines offers interstate and intrastate bus service to Orlando, and there are four Amtrak stations in the Orlando area.
Traveling in the City
State Road 408 (East-West Expressway) expedites traffic through Orlando. The Martin Andersen Bee Line Expressway (State Road 528) provides direct access to JFK Space Center, Port Canaveral, and the Atlantic Coast beaches. Other highways serving the city include U.S. 441, which runs east and west, U.S. 17, U.S. 92, and U.S. 27, which run north and south, as well as numerous state roadways. State Road 417 (Central Florida GreeneWay) was named one of the nation's top ten roads by the American Automobile Association.
LYNX, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, operates 238 busses that serve Orange County and adjoining Seminole and Osceola counties. Free service in downtown Orlando is provided on the "FreeBee," and on a three-mile, dedicated-lane transit system called Lymmo.
Orlando: Health Care
Orlando: Health Care
Florida Hospital, based in Orlando, is a private, not-for-profit network of 17 hospitals and 12 Centra Care urgent care facilities. Treating more than one million patients each year, Florida Hospital is the second busiest in the United States. It is noted for its programs in cardiology, cancer, women's medicine, diabetes, orthopedics, and rehabilitation. In 2004 U.S. News & World Report ranked Florida Hospital 28th for the treatment of hormonal disorders, 29th in kidney disease, and 31st in neurology and neurosurgery. Another not-for-profit, Orlando Regional Healthcare System, has eight locations in central Florida, including the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women and the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, as well as the only Level I trauma center in the area. With 1,640 beds, it treats 640,000 local patients and 4,500 international patients annually. Its specialties include pediatric emergency and cancer care, orthopedics, cardiology, brain injuries, burns, rehabilitation, women's services, infertility, mental health, sleep disturbances, and diabetes. Modern Healthcare magazine ranked Orlando Regional as one of the best cardiovascular hospitals in 2003.
The Nemours Children's Clinic–Orlando is a nationally recognized center for pediatric subspecialities. The clinic serves children from the greater Orlando area as well as around the United States and the world. In addition, four independent medical centers, several mental health care facilities, and two nationally recognized cancer centers (Walt Disney Memorial Cancer Institute at Florida Hospital, affiliated with Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Orlando) ensure residents the best medical care.
Health Care Information: Florida Hospital, 601 E. Rollins St., Orlando, FL 32803; telephone (407)303-5600; email [email protected]
Orlando: Geography and Climate
Orlando: Population Profile
Orlando: Municipal Government
Orlando: Education and Research
Orlando: Health Care
Orlando: Convention Facilities
The City in Brief
Founded: 1857 (incorporated 1875)
Head Official: Mayor Buddy Dyer (I) (since 2003)
2003 estimate: 199,336
Percent change, 1990–2000: 12.9%
U.S. rank in 1980: 124th
U.S. rank in 1990: 104th (State rank: 6th)
U.S. rank in 2000: 122nd (State rank: 6th)
Metropolitan Area Population
Percent change, 1990–2000: 34.2%
U.S. rank in 1980: 51st
U.S. rank in 1990: 37th
U.S. rank in 2000: 27th
Area: 94 square miles (2000)
Elevation: 127 feet above sea level (average)
Average Annual Temperature: 72.8° F
Average Annual Precipitation: 48.35 inches
Major Economic Sectors: tourism, software, film and television production, aviation and aerospace, biotechnology
Unemployment rate: 3.8% (December 2004)
Per Capita Income: $21,216 (1999)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 21,133
Major Colleges and Universities: University of Central Florida, Rollins College
Daily Newspaper: Orlando Sentinel