Orlando and state economic development officials are fanning the bushes to bring companies here as they try to mold a region that not only creates lasting jobs but continues providing plenty of development opportunities.
The addition of businesses like the U.S. Tennis Association in Lake Nona, Verizon in Lake Mary and Siemens in east Orange County give developers, builders and ancillary businesses opportunities to have a hand in Orlando’s future.
Right now, the Orlando Economic Development Commission, the area’s scouting arm, is working with several international aviation-related companies that are looking at the region as possible locations.
Knowing the type of businesses economic development officials are going after can give the building community a leg up on what they will need to provide to be in the running for project contracts.
The prime business types that economic officials are trying to bring here are advanced technology, aviation, aerospace and defense; business services; film and digital media; and life sciences and healthcare. These are typically higher paying jobs that also help diversify the regional economy, economic officials say.
These companies are considered “wealth generators,” or businesses that produce their products locally, sell them out of the area and return the sales to this region, said Rick Weddle, CEO of the Orlando Economic Development Commission.
“There is a lot of runway ahead for us to see continued growth for several years,” Weddle said. “We’re in very high gear, not just in job creation, but on high quality job creation.”
How economic development officials go about recruiting businesses is part art, part science and a measure of luck. They also recognize the site selection process can take six months to 18 months.
The Orlando EDC is targeting certain industries in higher cost areas such as the Northeast, the West Coast and the upper Midwest.
“We go on the road a lot and meet with companies,” said Dave Porter, senior vice president of business development with the Orlando EDC. That is the biggest way of attracting companies here.
While on the road, development officials meet with the people at companies that select sites and also invite them to the Orlando area in hopes of being put on the short list of places under consideration for an expansion or headquarters move.
Another major source of leads is through the state’s Enterprise Florida economic development agency. The agency has a pipeline of prospective relocation candidates and forwards them to areas that could be a fit.
Leads are also received directly from companies. “We like those the best,” Porter said. “You’re talking directly to the decision maker.”
Deloitte Consulting, which moved its IT centers to Lake Mary in 2014, is an example of a company that approached Central Florida officials. “They were looking for a community that had a highly skilled workforce, and that is the key driver anywhere right now,” Porter said.