Orange County, FL - Mayor Teresa Jacobs delivered her 2014 State of the County Address at the historic Ballroom on Church Street today, June 6, before an audience of more than 600 citizens, community leaders, and special guests.
During her 30-minute speech, Mayor Jacobs took citizens on a journey highlighting the outstanding achievements of the region and the many milestones the community has accomplished together making Orange County the best place in the world to live, learn, work, and raise a family.
Mayor Jacobs began the address by acknowledging the 70th anniversary of D-day and honoring the heroism of the men and women of our armed forces. She also thanked her family for their support as well as elected officials and the many partner organizations, volunteers, and board members whose great work is vital to our thriving community.
The address then moved to the strong indicators that tell the story of the transformation of our booming local economy. Construction is up 5 percent, unemployment is down from 11.3 percent when Mayor Jacobs took office, to 5.3 percent with 77,042 new jobs recently created. The region is also now a magnet for life science and high tech companies, as well as for tourist with 59 million visitors coming to the region in 2013 generating $187 million in tourist development taxes.
“Orlando is already one of the most recognizable places in the world, and we have a very positive image as one of the best places to visit,” said Mayor Jacobs. “Today our region is in the process of rolling out a new branding campaign to tell the whole story of our incredible economic assets and unrivaled quality of life.”
Mayor Jacobs illustrated how the campaign, “Orlando, you don’t know the half of it,” will aggressively raise awareness and transform the way the world perceives the region. The messages of this year’s State of the County were spread on social media through a group of Social Media Ambassadors with more than 50,000 followers on Twitter alone. The Ambassadors live-tweeted and used Facebook and Instagram throughout the speech. Additionally, Google Glass recorded and shared live from the eyes of one of the Ambassadors. This outreach—the first of its kind in the state—furthered Mayor Jacobs commitment to public engagement by involving the online community and highlighting the unique entrepreneurial talent that continues to create jobs and opportunities.
The growth and transformation of central Florida’s infrastructure and transportation was a key portion of the address, which showcased SunRail and the continuing work on an Osceola County and Lynx connection, as well as the All Aboard Florida project that may someday tie into a new multi-modal hub at Orlando International Airport.
Mayor Jacobs’ vision for a new future for our children centered on the transformation seen in entertainment, sports and culture. The Dr. Phillips Center (DPC) will open by Thanksgiving, ushering in a new era of creativity. Attendees participated in a sneak peek of the venue by taking part in a walking tour of the construction site and DPC offices. The tour came just days after a ceremonial beam rising at the Citrus Bowl, which is currently at the mid-way point of its renovations. Mayor Jacobs also explained how central Florida is becoming a sports Mecca with the new MLS soccer stadium coming to Orlando as well as the US Tennis Association headquarters planned for Lake Nona.
The State of the County then turned to issues affecting those in need of care. Task forces like the ones focused on domestic violence and youth mental health issues are transforming how the community views the stigmas associated with the victims while finding solutions that include the implementation of effective strategies and care.
Looking ahead, Mayor Jacobs outlined what is being planning for the future. She unveiled a new OCFL News App designed to provide citizens with breaking news and important information. The app is the third to be introduced to the community. Previously, Orange County pioneered the OCFL Alert and OCFL 311 apps which were recently demonstrated to President Barack Obama and top Homeland Security officials. For subscription information for the County’s mobile apps, visit OCFL 311 and OCFL Alerts and OCFL News.
“We’re not designing for this year, or the next five years,” said Mayor Jacobs. “We’re transforming how we live, work and play to sustain a lifetime of learning, discovery, and recreation for generations to come.”
That transformation is reality for Mrs. Opal Shields, Mayor Jacobs’ special guest who arrived at the State of the County riding SunRail for the first time. The retired Orange County teacher, who will turn 100 next month, has memories of serving in WWII as one of the Navy’s WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Shields has also lived through the incredible changes the Orange County community has experienced. “If there is anyone who can attest that this transformation is real, it’s our special guest,” proclaimed Mayor Jacobs before closing her speech by thanking everyone for attending and being part of transforming the region into a sustainable community brimming with opportunity, diversity and promise.
This year’s State of the County event was sponsored by the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association. The speech aired live on Orange TV and will be rebroadcast at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on June 6, 2014. Photos are also available for download on Mayor Jacobs’ official Flickr page.
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About Orange County Government: Orange County Government strives to serve its citizens and guests with integrity, honesty, fairness and professionalism. Located in Central Florida, Orange County includes 13 municipalities and is home to world famous theme parks, the nation’s second largest convention center, and a thriving life science research park. Seven elected members make up the Board of County Commissioners including the Mayor who is elected countywide. For more information please visit www.OCFL.net or go to the Orange County facebook and twitter pages.