The Past Shapes a City, the Present Influences a City and the Future Defines a City
Mayor Buddy Dyer made his keynote address at a business luncheon on Friday, July 27, in Lake Nona’s GuideWell Innovation CORE building. The Lake Nona Regional Chamber of Commerce holds a monthly business luncheon sponsored by yours truly, Nonahood News.
Buddy Dyer has been mayor of Orlando since 2003 and served in the State Senate for a decade before becoming mayor. He was born in Orlando and really emits his care for the city when speaking about its past, present and future. He mentioned how Orlando is one of the fastest-growing cities, a city that has created the most jobs and the number one ranked travel destination. Forbes ranked the City Beautiful as the number three spot for realty. Just look at how quickly our home of Lake Nona has developed.
The mayor’s speech had a focus on diversification and collaboration on current events we hear about occurring in the rest of the country, such as coming together as a community after a mass shooting attack like Pulse or the current struggles with some members of the police department around the country. “I couldn’t have been more proud of the way that our community responded to the darkest tragedy. A tragedy that I don’t think anybody could even have imagined that could occur. And we, if we weren’t the type of community that we already were, I don’t think we could’ve come together in the fashion that we do. And this is a community that embraces diversity and inclusion and equality … we have scored 100 percent on the equality index, uh, for the last three years in a row, um, we are looked to from around the country as one of those shining lights that sets an example for other communities.”
Mayor Dyer continued, “Just this past week … we passed something called the Trust Act, and that basically says we’re going to have unbiased policing. We’re not going to – and we already had this, but we, we’re doing an emphasis – but it says regardless of your color, your race, your religion, your sexual preference, your status on immigration, we’re going to treat everybody fairly and treat them the same and not treat them differently in a traffic stop.” Orlando is the first city in the Southeast of the United States to adopt the Trust Act.
Mayor Dyer mentioned that Orlando has the most modeling/training facilities in the world, which comes as no surprise as more and more headquarters and companies choose Lake Nona as their new home. With increasingly more eyes set on Orlando and the Lake Nona area, that means more construction to keep up with the many demands of being in the constant spotlight.
“On the economic side, we have the great benefit of having one of the all-time great brand names in Orlando. You can go anywhere in the world and they might not know Florida, but they know Orlando. But then the next thing they know is Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, so we are trying to make sure we accelerate our efforts to let the world know that we are a great place to do business as well, so the E.D., Orlando Economic Partnership, has a campaign that’s called ‘Orlando, You Don’t Know The Half Of It’ playing off of you do know one half of it, but you don’t know the other half.”
The mayor described the development of the Creative Village, which is progressing downtown and is ultimately the reason why the old Amway was imploded, leaving about 70 acres to create an industry cluster in digital media and innovation. “You only have one chance to make 70 acres right, and we want to do it right,” Mayor Dyer stated.
He continued, “In the Southeast part of our city and probably the downtown of our city are the areas where a lot of that innovation is happening, and we’re receiving great notoriety worldwide on our innovative approach to things. But more importantly than that, what our community, our region has is a culture of collaboration. And we have made some great things happen because leaders in our community from all segments – from the business community, the local government community, the philanthropic community, our great university and community college, so the academic community – are willing to put personal differences aside, they’re willing to put partisan differences aside, jurisdictional differences aside, and work together for the common good. And when I say common, not common as in ordinary, but common as in a shared vision for making a great community.”
What seems like a never-ending project with absolutely no improvements or progression is the infamous restructure of I-4. “Did you notice I-4 is under construction?” Mayor Dyer jokingly asked the audience. The entire crowd laughed.
Ten billion dollars is currently going toward redevelopment of infrastructure in Orlando, and I-4 is a huge part of that. The mayor talked about the growth of our international airport to accommodate our ever-growing tourist and resident population and questioned how the city can get SunRail to the airport to connect to the Brightline to ease some of the transportation issues Orlando and Lake Nona residents face.
Mayor Dyer mentioned that Orlando is striving to be both the smartest and the most sustainable city in the Southeast of the country through Green Works Orlando and self-declares that Orlando is number one. By working toward that long-term goal, the city has set another objective of running entirely on sustainable energy by 2050.
Orlando will continue to be an inspiration for other cities in years to come. And with so much change happening in the blink of an eye, it’s easy to see that we don’t know the half of it.