Today, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivered his annual State of the City address to hundreds of residents, business owners and community leaders gathered at Orlando City Hall. As part of his speech, Mayor Dyer highlighted how, working together as a community, Orlando is transitioning from a young upstart to a more mature, global City.
Dyer also recognized that with this success comes incredible opportunities and new challenges where continued partnership will be critical in ensuring a prosperous future. “While many of these challenges aren’t unique to Orlando, what is unique is how we’re addressing them.”
Dyer reflected on the Pulse tragedy and how the community responded with love, compassion and unity, showing the world why partnerships matter so much. “Two words, Orlando United, born out of tragedy, but because of you they have become the embodiment of what makes our community special and how we’re going to own the future.”
During his address, Mayor Dyer highlighted how partnerships are already strengthening the community, including:
Increased Investment in Public Safety
“Though our City is changing, the one thing that will never change is our most important job: keeping you safe.”
This year the City funded 15 new police officers and will fund 15 more in the year ahead to meet the needs of the rapidly growing southeast part of the City.
Over the next year, the City will add 12 new firefighter positions to place a new tower truck in service in the Lake Nona area.
This year, the City added a new state-of-the-art training simulator that enhances the training Orlando police officers receive by offering realistic experiences, continuing to ensure the department’s officers are trained at the highest of standards, at one of the best training facilities in the nation.
This past year, OFD applied for accreditation for Fire Based Transport from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services. If awarded in 2017, OFD would be the only department in Florida to have an ISO 1 rating, international accreditation, emergency management accreditation and ambulance service accreditation.
Commitment to Providing Quality, Affordable Housing
“We must ensure that anyone who wants to live in Orlando can live in Orlando — regardless of their income. That’s why we’re making significant investments in developing and rehabbing quality, affordable housing units.”
Through partnerships with non-profits, businesses and private developers, more than 600 affordable housing units are planned or under construction, including:
LIFT Orlando is currently redeveloping a 14-acre site into The Villages at West Lake, a mixed-income, multifamily development that will include senior living and 160 affordable units.
Through a partnership with Ability Housing, three vacant, foreclosed properties on Mercy Drive are being redeveloped and will include a total of 166 units dedicated to affordable housing for families and permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless.
In partnership with the HOPE Church, as part of the New Horizon project, 58 units will be renovated to help house homeless veterans with children and low income persons or families.
In 2016, in partnership with the Orlando Neighborhood Improvement District, the City renovated 30 units at the Richard Allen Gardens housing complex, including the conversion of two ground floor apartments into one bedroom and one bath handicapped accessible units. In addition, the public gathering spaces of the complex, including a gazebo, were also improved.
In 2016, plans were approved to transform a vacant six-acre site in Parramore into a mixed-income housing development across from Z.L. Riley Park. The $42 million Parramore Oaks development will feature 211 units including apartments and townhomes that will offer affordable housing, permanent supportive housing and market-rate housing.
A new $56 million, 256-unit multi-family housing development, Amelia Court at Creative Village, will have a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments and provide a new option for families looking to live near the adjacent Parramore Community School and UCF/Valencia Downtown Campus. Groundbreaking is expected in the third quarter of 2017.
The City has invested five million dollars to add 30 new single-family homes to continue to increase homeownership opportunities in Parramore. To achieve this:
Through the CRA, the City is partnering with developers to construct 10 single-family homes on City-owned lots. In the coming year, the CRA will allocate funding to start work on another 10 single-family homes.
The City will also offer Down Payment Assistance (DPA) to qualified homebuyers to purchase these at an affordable price.
Through a partnership with Future Leaders Development Corporation, five new single family homes will be built on city-owned lots along McFall Avenue, an area where the City has made significant investments to support new affordable homes in Parramore.
Through a partnership with the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Foundation, the City is redeveloping six lots at Jefferson Park into single-family homes for veterans and public safety personnel through our Heroes’ Commons project. This past April, the City celebrated the completion of two of the homes, welcoming two Central Florida veterans and their families to their new homes.
Utilizing the Housing First strategy, in less than three years, through partnerships, the City of Orlando, has housed 385 chronically homeless individuals, including 232 veterans, who are now living in permanent, supportive housing.
Growing a Stronger, Healthier Economy
“It’s so important we continue to grow and diversify our economy in new and different ways.”
Nurturing a Culture of Innovation
Since 2015, the City has contributed $100,000 to FireSpring to help grow seed funding for local technology and advanced manufacturing startups, helping the non-profit seed fund raise more than $1.5 million to date, with a goal to reach $5 million within five years.
In 2014, the City became the first government funding partner of the Orlando Tech Association (OTA) to serve as a unified voice for the tech industry in Orlando. OTA advocates for the tech community as well as inspiring collaboration between established businesses and startups. The Orlando Tech meetup, OTA’s origin, was created to welcome and support tech entrepreneurs, startups and businesses, and has grown to become one of the largest tech meetups in the nation.
To support entrepreneurs who want to build businesses that solve social, environmental and economic problems, the City has partnered with Rollins College, the Central Florida Foundation, CREDO and Clean the World on a new, social enterprise accelerator to provide these entrepreneurs with the unique training, mentorship and support so that they can grow their companies that positively impact our community and the world. Applications for businesses to join the accelerator are currently being accepted with the first six-month class beginning in September.
Commitment to Homegrown Companies
The City’s ten Orlando Main Street Districts continue to fuel growth in Orlando, including accomplishing the following over the last 10 years:
Opening nearly 1,000 new businesses.
Expanding more 65 businesses.
Creating 5,500 full and part-time jobs.
The ten Orlando Main Street Districts include:
Audubon Park Garden District, Church Street District, College Park Partnership, Gateway Orlando, Ivanhoe Village, Mills 50, The Milk District, Orlando Tech Association, SoDo and Thornton Park District.
Ensuring and Expanding Opportunities for Youth
Since the 2015 launch of the City’s After-School All-Stars Opportunity Jobs Academy aimed at providing high school juniors and seniors pre-job training, nearly 180 students have completed the program with 95 percent of the graduates currently holding 20+ hour per week jobs.
Annually, through City of Orlando programs, nearly 900 15-25 year old youths are employed with the City in jobs like summer camp counselors and lifeguards.
Through the new PKZ Youth Employment Program, the City continues to offer young residents job opportunities and experience, currently employing more than 100 youth this summer.
To expand safe learning opportunities for children and to help further curb youth crime, four neighborhood centers – Engelwood, Jackson, Northwest and Smith – will soon have extended hours, including staying open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.