February 26, 2014 marked my 11th anniversary serving as Mayor of the City of Orlando. Surpassing this milestone has allowed me to reflect on the many successes our community has experienced in the past 11 years and it also makes me extremely excited for the year ahead in Orlando.
Since I took office in 2003, our community has worked relentlessly to create and advance a shared vision for the future of Orlando. We have diversified our economy and created careers for our residents in industries like life sciences, digital media and modeling, simulation & training. Medical City at Lake Nona has been transformed from a cow pasture into what is expected to be the fastest growing area of our City in the next ten years. Our neighborhood commercial corridors are thriving due in large part to the City of Orlando’s Main Street Program. We have augmented our tree canopy and increased park and gathering space. Orlando is now home to the world’s most technologically-advanced arena in the nation, the Amway Center. And, Downtown Orlando, our region’s hub for finance, culture, entertainment, government and commerce has seen one of the most remarkable resurgences of any city in the nation.
How has our community accomplished so much in such a short period of time? The answer is simple. Partnership has been our strategic advantage and the foundation of every success we’ve experienced. Our region’s government, business, civic and community leaders – along with our residents – have created and advanced a shared vision for our City.
While much has been accomplished in the past decade, this year in Orlando, a number of transformative projects will reach completion. SunRail, our new commuter rail line will begin operations May 1. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and reconstructed Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium will host grand openings this fall. There is no denying Orlando has an exciting year ahead!
But, there is still more work to be done as we look to Orlando’s future. And, our community will play a key role in determining what’s next for Orlando.
I am convening a new Downtown Orlando task force, known as Project DTO. The members of Project DTO will participate in a visioning and marketing planning process to craft a road map for the continued growth of Downtown Orlando. This task force is unique and important because it allows people who are passionate about Downtown to have the opportunity to shape its future.
Recognizing the value Hispanic leaders have on our community, I have extended an invitation to a number of Hispanic Downtown Orlando stakeholders to participate in Project DTO. I am pleased to announce several of those have accepted the invitation to serve, including:
• Carlos Barrios, Baker Barrios Architects
• Carlos Carbonell, Echo Interaction Group
• Christina Pinto, MPC Financial Planning
• Gaby Ortigoni, OUC
• Julio Rocha, Rocha Financial Group LLC
• Maritza Martinez, UCF
• Maylen Dominguez, Full Sail University
• John Martinez, PNC Bank
The health and vitality of Downtown Orlando impacts the fate of our whole region. For Central Florida to realize its full potential and to compete and thrive in the new economy, Downtown Orlando has to remain the heart of our region.
Collaboration among our region’s residents, government, business and civic leaders has helped frame the last 11 years and I look forward to strong partnerships to continue shaping the future of our City.