Rick Weddle, president and CEO of the Orlando Economic Development Commission, announced to attendees of the SelectUSA Investment Summit held in Washington, DC on March 23 to 24, that the Florida city is fast becoming an international hub of commerce. He said that the city's already strong position would be bolstered by the non-stop daily flight between Orlando and Dubai offered by United Arab Emirates-based airline Emirates, which will begin on September 1, 2015.
As well as tourism, Orlando focuses on high-value sectors, such as advanced business services, biotechnology and life sciences, specialty pharmaceuticals, defense, and aviation. “Advanced business services cross over with advanced technology,” said Mr Weddle, citing the 2014 opening of the Deloitte Consulting tech centre in Orlando as an example of the type of investment that the city is attracting.
Aviation and defense companies are numerous in Orlando. “We are the world’s epicentre for this,” Mr Weddle claimed. Another very large sector is film, digital media and video gaming. “EA Sports and Madden NFL Football originated here,” said Mr Weddle. The city also boasts a number of companies in the commercials and online media sectors. “Many of these areas are crossovers from Disney tourism,” Mr Weddle explained.
Examples of recent investments in the city include the $7m investment by German conglomerate Siemens, which in 2013 opened a wind energy service training centre in Orlando to provide technical and safety training for installation and service technicians working on wind energy projects in North and south America. More recently, in March 2015, Orlando’s third busiest air carrier, Jet Blue, opened a $25m training facility at Orlando International Airport. Other investments have come from Japan’s Mitsubishi Hitachi Power System, Israel’s Mazor Robotics, and the UK's Signature Flight Support.
Furthermore, in March 2015, Orlando’s Florida Senate added a $5m line item for funding for Osceola County's International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research, the world's first industry-led smart-sensor consortium that is housed in the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
With low corporate tax and no individual tax, Mr Weddle said that the state of Florida is attracting businesses from across the globe. “Orlando continues to be a place people want to visit and live,” he said. “This year we’ve added close to 50,000 new residents.”