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America’s Diamond in the Rough?

Student opens up the discussion about the hidden potential within Orlando’s urban sphere as overshadowed by reputable theme parks and tourist attractions.

Orlando, Florida is an underestimated and forgotten city. Known solely for its tourism and international theme parks, it would appear that this city has nothing else to offer. Many international businesses could thrive here in Orlando, yet they remain unaware of the potential benefits they would receive and all that the city is capable of.

Some of Orlando’s most notable features are in its various theme parks and attractions. Walt Disney World covers over forty square miles; approximately the size of the city of San Francisco. This theme park alone is responsible for one out of every fifty jobs in the state of Florida. However, the city outside of the theme parks is often ignored, and opportunities outside of the theme parks are overlooked.

Orlando has a very strong infrastructure, as well as the means to transport goods via multiple airports, deep-water seaports, highways and railways. Orlando International Airport (MCO) and the Orange County Convention Center are major conveniences for the city as well. Tourism can also work in the favor of potential businesses, with a constant influx of domestic and international visitors. In 2010, the city accommodated over 51.5 million visitors, who spent an approximate total of $28.3 billion in the Orlando area. Orlando has created a free trade zone, Zone 42 off of Interstate 4, giving it access to both interstate and air transport. In 2011, Florida exported $64.8 billion in goods and services, proving the success of it infrastructure and the ability it has to offer.

The presence of international business in Orlando is very strong already. Across the seven countries present in Orlando, 312 foreign companies are already working in the fields of manufacturing, services, wholesale trade, and retail. Three Fortune 500 companies are currently based in Central Florida, all of which have an international presence. Maintaining the city’s strong international base provides its diverse population. One out of every six people in Orlando was born in a country other than the United States, with Hispanics representing 22% of the population. Orlando is very accommodating towards international businesses due to the strong international community.

The city is capable of accommodating even more businesses through pre-meditative programs. With constant expansion comes more initiatives to sustain the city. Mayor of Orlando Buddy Dyer is working to implement new programs to improve the city. A particularly interesting initiative is called GreenWorks, a program with the intent to reduce energy consumption by 20%. “Strengthen Orlando” is another initiative to build Downtown Orlando into an ideal location for corporate and division headquarters, along with other programs, to maintain the public safety of the city.

Orlando is a very underestimated city. Its benefits and accommodations are often overlooked, yet businesses have a great potential to prosper. Orlando is known for its theme parks, yet what lies beyond the parks is the most exciting part of the city. Orlando’s network of infrastructure, strong international community and initiatives for the future are a great step forward for a city previously forgotten. This insight will allow businesses to experience great success in a city with many resources and opportunities.


The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur, its staff or Rollins College.

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