Facts & Rankings

FACTS

  • Metro Orlando has a rapidly growing $13.4 billion technology industry employing 53,000 people.
  • Orlando has nationally recognized clusters of innovation in digital media, agritechnology, aviation and aerospace, and software.
  • The University of Central Florida is now the 6th largest university in the country with over $120 million in research; international reputations in innovations in lasers/optics AND hospitality; AND a new medical school breaking ground.
  • Industry giant Electronic Arts - the world’s leading independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software - creates some of the world’s top-selling games in Metro Orlando, including the popular Madden NFL Football, NCAA Football, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and several other game series.
  • Metro Orlando has the 7th largest research park in the country (Central Florida Research Park) with over 1,025 acres. It is home to over 120 companies, employs more than 8,500 people, and is the hub of the nation’s military simulation and training programs.
  • The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation & Training developed the nation’s first master’s and PhD programs in simulation and human performance enhancement.
  • Metro Orlando is home to the simulation procurement commands for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
  • More than 150 international companies, representing approximately 20 countries, have facilities in Metro Orlando.
  • Lockheed Martin Missile’s and Fire Control facility in Orlando was one of the first industrial buildings in the nation.

RANKINGS

  • Metro Orlando ranks 11th among Milken Institute’s 2008 "Best Performing Cities."
  • UCF ranks 3rd in the “Top 10 Most Impactful Patent Portfolios” according to The Patent Scoreboard.
  • Florida ranks as the 8th top state for business, 17th in America’s top states for business, #1 in workforce in America’s tops states for business, and #9 in technology and innovation in America’s top states for business according to CNBC.
  • Business Facilities ranks Florida 9th in overall biotechnology strength, 20th of the top 20 greenest states, and 9th of the top 10 states for business climate.
  • Orlando International Airport tied for 2nd “Best Large Airport for Customer Satisfaction” according to J.D. Power & Associates.
  • According to Bizjournal studies, Orlando is ranked as the 9th “Most Attractive Metro for Young Adults.”
  • Surveys show that Florida ranks 11th for entrepreneurial activity according to the Kauffman Foundation.
  • Fast Company magazine names Orlando as one of the “12 Best Cities for Innovation.”
  • Florida ranks second on the list of "most pro-business states" in a survey conducted by Pollina Corporate Real Estate.
  • Florida ranked 4th in the nation for A.P. student performance.
  • Orlando International Airport is busiest airport in Florida, according to aviation authority statistics.
  • According to Forbes, Orlando is the 9th fastest growing metro.
  • Global Insight says Orlando will be #1 for job growth from 2007–2012.
  • Forbes.com ranks Metro Orlando fifth on their annual list of "Most Wired Cities."
  • The Tax Foundation ranks Florida as the 5th "Business Friendly Tax State" for 2008.
  • BusinessWeek featured Metro Orlando among its picks of "global hot spots" in its issue titled "What Makes a Winner: The Competition Issue." Orlando is one of three communities in the world to be featured.
  • Simultaneously, Orlando has been ranked the No. 1 spot to grow a small business by Bizjournal, No. 1 for America's best jobs in the hottest markets by Business 2.0, and the No. 4 hottest spot for job creation by Expansion Management.
  • For the fourth consecutive year, the Metro Orlando economy ranks among the strongest economies in the U.S. and the strongest in the state of Florida according to the annual POLICOM Economic Strength Rankings.
  • Orlando is the 12th "Hottest Job Market” according to Business2.0.
  • Inc. magazine names Orlando as the fourth “Best City for Business” in the large cities category.
  • fDi magazine recognizes Orlando as one of the “North American Cities of the Future”; No. 3 in “Most Business Friendly;” and No. 4 in “Quality of Life.”
  • Southern Business & Development names Orlando as one of the “Top 10 Places in the South for Emerging Industries.”
  • AeA says Florida is the “Fourth-Largest and Second-Fastest Growing Cyberstate by Tech Employment.”
  • Bizjournal ranks Florida as the ninth “Best Market for Young Adult Job Seekers.”
  • Orlando is the third “Best Pro-Business State,” according to Pollina Corporation.
  • According to Forbes magazine, Orlando is the fourth “Best City in the Country for creating jobs.”
  • Expansion Management names Orlando as one of the “50 Hottest Cities.”
  • Grubb & Ellis Market Strength Forecast for 2007 named Orlando’s office market No. 8 in U.S. survey as an investment opportunity.
  • Wired magazine names Orlando as one of the nation’s “Best Geek Cities”, citing the area as a top ten place to “get your geek on.”
  • Metro Orlando was named one of ten "Blooming U.S. Cities for Tech" according to eWEEK.com.
  • Forbes magazine lists Metro Orlando among the "Best Places for Business and Careers."
  • U.S. News and World Report's ranking of "America's Best College" names Rollins College as the number one university in the South.
  • Florida has been ranked as a “Top 10 Places for Film Production in the U.S.” by P3/Production Update magazine.
  • Metro Orlando ranks 3rd among Inc. magazine's "Hottest Large Cities for Doing Business" and 28th in the nation for entrepreneurs.
  • Metro Orlando ranks second on the list of "Six Great Relocation Destinations" published by Retirement Solutions Foundation.
  • Metro Orlando is the “Number One City for Entrepreneurs” by Entrepreneur Magazine.
  • Metro Orlando has been named in previous years as a "Major Market of the Year" by Southern Business & Development.
  • Metro Orlando ranks as one of the top five “Cities for Moviemakers” by MovieMaker Magazine.
  • Florida ranks as one of the top five states for start-ups in twelve of twelve business categories by Global Corporate Xpansion magazine and BizMiner.
  • According to Harris Poll, Florida is the 2nd "Most Popular Place to Live."
  • Florida ranks among the top three states with best workforce training programs, according to Expansion Management.
  • Wall Street Journal ranks Orlando 7th for "Business Vitality."

Major Happenings

MAJOR BUSINESS HAPPENINGS, DEVELOPMENTS AND ECONOMIC TRENDS IN METRO ORLANDO
 

  • Life science, biotech and medical technology industries are emerging. In the last 24 months, Orlando has made a $2 billion investment in life sciences in the region thanks to several recent announcements and projects that include: The Burnham Institute for Medical Research’s new East Coast operations in Orlando; the University of Central Florida’s new medical school and health care campus; Florida Hospital’s new Nicholson Center for Surgical Advancement (training facility on minimally invasive surgical techniques for surgeons from across the globe) as well as their new Global Robotics Institute; and leading R&D work coming out of UCF that includes an anthrax vaccine generated through the genetic engineering of tobacco plants, stem cells used from bone marrow to help treat Alzheimer’s and a protein to stop tumor cells from spreading. Because two of the top-ranked hospitals in the nation (Florida Hospital and Orlando Health) are located in Metro Orlando, the region is quickly becoming a global medical destination. The area is also home to the headquarters of several national pharmaceutical distributors and has a healthy number of medical technology companies that manufacture products that deal with tendon repair, spinal implants, bladder control and more as well as a company using cord blood to help save lives. A group of community leaders dedicated to accelerating life science in Central Florida has been dubbed bioOrlando and is actively pursuing initiatives that further grow this fast-emerging industry sector.
  • Orlando is becoming a center for digital media. The breadth of the software, simulation and entertainment industries here is fueling the growth of the digital media sector. Over 400 companies involved in digital media call Metro Orlando home, including Electronic Arts’ (EA) Tiburon studio, makers of one of the world’s top selling video games, EA Sports Madden Football, among numerous other best selling titles. EA recently announced a partnership with another local digital media company, XOS Technologies who develop coaching and fan-management technology for sports teams. Together, the companies will produce a training simulator for college and pro football teams. To meet the demands of an increasing workforce involved in digital media, community leaders established the University of Central Florida’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) to provide graduate level training in the interactive entertainment/gaming industry. The school is located in downtown Orlando’s new “Creative Village” which is centered around nationally-recognized east coast operations of House of Moves, who operates the only professional motion capture studio on the east coast with fully integrated film, video and audio facilities. Supporting further development are recent entertainment incentives offered from the State of Florida which include digital media projects for the first time.
  • Orlando is a recognized leader in simulation, laser and information technology industries. Orlando is widely recognized as the largest cluster of modeling, simulation and training companies in the world and the nation’s military simulation training centers are based here. Orlando is also home to one of three centers of excellence in the optics/photonics industry and world-renown laser scientists work at the University of Central Florida. AirTran Airways is based in Orlando and JetBlue Airways operates their pilot and crew training facility in the area. Through 2010, it is expected that three of the four top jobs in Central Florida will be technology related. eWeek has recognized Orlando as one of the top 10 U.S. emerging technology hubs.
  • Orlando companies are leading the way in homeland security. In addition to top defense contracts obtained by Orlando’s Lockheed Martin divisions, several home-grown companies are on the front lines of homeland security initiatives for the nation. These companies’ business lines include simulation (Industrial Smoke and Mirrors), land-mine detection (CyTerra Corp.), digital forensics (I.D.E.A.L. Technology Corp. and Florida Law Enforcement Electronic Evidence Team at the University of Central Florida), laser-radar systems (H.N. Burns Engineering Corp.) and thermal imaging systems (Digital Infrared Imaging Inc.). In a related field, several biometrics firms call Central Florida home, including Sequiam Biometrics, which has developed a residential door lock using fingerprint ID technology currently being used by Kwikset Corp., a subsidiary of Black & Decker Corp.
  • Entrepreneur and tech start-ups are mounting. Much of this is thanks to the growing resources at UCF. Funding for research at this young, 38-year-old university has already surpassed $100 million, and more than 200 patents have been issued here in the past seven years. Of those patents, 15 companies were started. In addition, since the opening of UCF’s Technology Incubator in 1999, the 70,000-square-foot facility has helped more than 90 emerging technology companies. Together, those companies create more than $200 million in annual revenues and more than 800 new jobs with an average salary of $59,000 (much higher than the area’s average wage of $36,000). In addition, Orlando has been recognized by Inc. as a top location for entrepreneurs, and it is home to one of only two National Entrepreneur Centers located in the United States. Recently passed legislation (Florida Capital Formation Program) will provide seed and early-stage venture capital to high-tech companies through investments in private venture capital firms. The fund will specifically target its investments toward companies in the advanced manufacturing, IT, life science, aviation and aerospace and defense industries, all of which Metro Orlando is a leader in.
  • Major new green “clean tech” initiatives are originating from companies based in Orlando. A company that has developed a way to recycle Styrofoam, a company that is helping the airlines become more environmentally responsible, a company that has developed what could be the first-ever energy-efficient clothes dryer…all from Metro Orlando. The region is also the site of the state’s first hydrogen energy station (a result of a collaborative effort between the State of Florida, Ford, ChevronTexaco and Progress Energy), which fuels hydrogen-powered shuttle buses that transport visitors at the Orlando International Airport. Pioneering advancements in the field of alternative fuel development is the University of Central Florida’s highly-regarded Florida Sustainable Energy Center (FSEC). And the Orange County Convention Center (the second largest convention facility in the country) has announced plans to install a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system (the second largest in the southeast) to power the center.
  • Metro Orlando has accumulated a wealth of the financial services industry. Leading companies such as Metavante and Fiserv who create banking software used by financial institutions from across the globe have clustered in the region. In addition, major and independent banks are expanding; related back office and customer support centers such as Bank of New York are mounting; and insurance and mortgage lending companies continue to move in.
  • There is a strong international presence in Metro Orlando. Mitsubishi and Siemens are recognizable companies with a division located in Metro Orlando. In addition, over 120 other foreign based companies are also here from countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany and more. Florida’s international trade topped $100 billion last year with nearly $110 billion in total import-export volume. Among the leading, targeted trade industries: aviation, biotech and telecom. The top countries Florida is exporting to: Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia.
  • Metro Orlando has become a hub for corporate division, association and U.S. operations headquarters. Science Applications International Corporation’s regional training and simulation solutions headquarters, The Home Depot’s Supply Division, L-3 Communications’ Advanced Laser Systems Technology, Electronic Arts’ Tiburon Studios, Ruth's Chris Steak House, the Amateur Athletic Union, international simulation companies Adacel and Indra Systems’ U.S. operations all call Orlando home and praise the region for everything from its strategic geographic location to established industry clusters to a young workforce.

Testimonials

WHY ORLANDO?

"In deciding to locate our headquarters and service center in Metro Orlando, we found that the region can easily support corporate and manufacturing operations not only through solid infrastructure and transportation systems, but through a workforce that is young, literate and eager to hold a good job."

— Hector Ponce, EVP
Mitsubishi Power Systems, Inc.

“Bank of New York’s original plan was to have 300 people located in Central Florida. We opened our first office here with two business units three months before the 9/11 tragedy. Two more business units moved here as a direct result of 9/11. Additional units commenced operations here after seeing the success of the others. Now we have a total of nine Orlando business units with about 750 employees, and growing.”

— Joe Brady, vice president/mutual fund accounting group
The Bank of New York

“Orlando is a great business location for SAIC because of the synergies among the military services (our customers), the business community and the University of Central Florida, which all work together to generate success in the high tech domain. What I like best about the region is that here, more than anywhere I have lived there is a sense of community. There are so many great people who are willing to get together and help each other both on a business and on a personal level.”

— Beverly Seay, senior vice president
business unit general manager, SAIC

“There is an immense brain trust in Metro Orlando for the digital media industry that is hard to find anywhere else.”

— Bob Allen, CEO
i.d.e.a.s.

"Central Florida offers a wide variety of recruitment options for diverse skills sets. We partner with local educational institutions, Workforce Central Florida, local employment council career fairs and other traditional means to attract talent. We have had no major problems filling the several hundred positions we have recruited for over the last few years We found it was critical to ensure that we were offering a competitive compensation and benefits package to attract candidates in this market."

— Holly Faries, quality assurance manager
CuraScript Specialty Distribution

“There is an aggressive and enabling atmosphere in the Metro Orlando area for high-tech companies and new research, which make it an ideal locale for the energy and alternative fuels industry.”

— Dr. Robert Stonerock, Jr.
Clean Power Engineering Company

Over the past 24 years I have been the VP of Human Resources for large employers here in Central Florida. In that time we have recruited thousands of people predominately in the publishing and technology areas. Over the years the concerns of long ago seem to persist as myths long after their demise. Let me address the dominant ones.

Myth: You cannot find qualified candidates, it is an unskilled workforce.
Reality: There has been and continues to be an influx of people with professional, technical and scientific skill sets.

Myth: Central Florida is all theme parks and low wage jobs.
Reality: The diversity of the industries and the available workforce has increased dramatically over the years.

Myth: The school system is poor quality.
Reality: The influx of professional people brought with it parents who highly value education and demanded that the schools be upgraded. There are also more options from which to choose.

Myth: It is difficult to attract skilled professionals to Central Florida.
Reality: Work location is one of the strongest selling points when recruiting. The east coast population still “drains” toward the South.

— Jim Brescia, vice president, human resources
SunGard HTE, Inc.

"The success of Accent Marketing has been the result of our ongoing team effort with the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. Our membership and continued support of that organization has many times over paid for itself, not only in revenue to the city but also in the many jobs for our residents."

— Alton Roane, director of development services
City of Eustis, Lake County

“Orlando and Orange County are wonderfully positioned in the global economy. You are one of the world's greatest travel destinations. You have such a young population. You have economic diversity, including all the high tech start-ups. You have a great climate. In short, the Orlando area is extremely well-positioned for this new millennium.”

— John Naisbitt, author
Megatrends

“We applaud the Metro Orlando EDC’s hard work and perseverance, for they have helped create an environment in which we can continue to hire outstanding local talent who can help us make great games. We’ve always loved this area, and now, with the combined support from state government, local business and academic institutions, we can build the infrastructure needed to sustain our rate of growth here. We appreciate the State of Florida and the University of Central Florida’s commitment to videogame development and thank them for their ongoing support of EA in Central Florida.”

— Steven Chiang, vice president and studio general manager
Electronic Arts Tiburon

"I could base Dynetech anywhere, but the quality of life for my family is very important. And, frankly, this area just isn't subject to the economic downturns that most areas go through. While tourism/hospitality play a large role, the real story is its highly energetic economic environment. Orlando attracts so many highly trained people that I've only had to hire two people from outside the area. Not many places can offer all of that."

— Larry Pino, chairman and CEO
Dynetech Corporation

“The factor for us was our recruiting ability in Orlando. We just felt the opportunity to recruit people was a bit stronger here with such a well-educated work force. Orlando is also a multiethnic, multinational area, which is helpful in recruiting a bilingual staff.”

— Jorge Tovar, director
Adelphia’s National Sales Center

"We have a critical mass of businesses in simulation and related technologies in Metro Orlando and a world-class university that provides a ready population of well-trained employees. We have everything here that a business needs for success."

— Russ Hauck, director
National Center for Simulation

“Orlando is a natural fit for our needs; among other things, it has great weather, things for our students to do while they’re here in training, a cooperative business climate, and land.”

— Mike Barger, chief learning officer
JetBlue Airways

"Metro Orlando offers many strengths to the aviation and aerospace industry — an abundance of land available adjacent to runways for hangars, maintenance, air cargo, and other aviation related facilities; ample supply of power and recycled water capabilities for manufacturing facilities; and a world-class simulation and training cluster. This industry will only continue to grow here."

— Jim Laria, aviation consultant

"Because Photonics is an enabling technology, enhancing most other high tech sectors, as well as growing its own sector, it will continue to see significant steady growth and have a major impact on savings in most industries."

—Dr. James Pearson, director of research and administration
UCF College of Optics and Photonics

”Metro Orlando provides a strong center of support for research and advances in the fields of biotechnology and life science at all levels, from academic to corporate. Some of the world’s most leading-edge work is being conducted here in our research centers by an interdisciplinary community of academics, post-graduates and undergraduates to revolutionize medicine and greatly improve the human condition.”

— Dr. Pappachan E. Kolattukudy, professor and director
UCF Biomolecular Science Center and Chair