What does it take to create a region in which entrepreneurs want to start businesses and companies want to locate? The answer is simple, but hard: It takes the support of the entire community, from private-sector organizations to political figures to the educational system and more. It takes an abundance of developable real estate and high-quality infrastructure. It takes an educated, skilled labor force of people who work in the community because—thanks to an outstanding quality of life in areas like culture, food, schools, recreation and weather—they want to live in the community. It’s even better when all these elements come together in a state whose tax and regulatory policies aggressively promote a pro-business climate. It’s hard to think of a region that fits this description better than Orlando.
The best-known businesses in Orlando are, of course, theme parks. They foster and sustain a community of high-tech workers who help imagine, build and run the parks. The skills the parks require—engineering, coding, creativity, originality, risk-taking, among others—are the staples of an advanced economy.
Other industries the region focuses on—including advanced manufacturing, life sciences and healthcare, aviation/aerospace and defense, and innovative technologies—also make use of those skills. And Orlando has one of the country’s most active tech communities, manifest in companies like app developer Echo Interaction Group, located adjacent to coworking space Canvs, where over 100 tech companies are clustered.
Orlando is also home to multinational firms like Deloitte, Lockheed Martin and Verizon. Some, like Lockheed, began operations there because of the world-leading community of aerospace and aviation experts supported by nearby NASA. Others, like Deloitte and Verizon, launched facilities here because of the ecosystem of support they find. Additional corporate and divisional headquarters include the American Automobile Association, Darden Restaurants, Golf Channel, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, Siemens Energy and Tupperware Brands Corporation.
Perhaps the newest example of this spirit of enterprise is the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research, which represents an ambitious effort to lead the market in products like smart sensor and photonics-based devices. This is a community where big ideas can be realized and business gets serious.