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A view of the downtown Orlando skyline from Orlando International Airport.
A view of the downtown Orlando skyline from Orlando International Airport. (Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel)

Orlando's economy was the strongest of any Florida region last year, boosted by several sectors that show the area is making headway in its efforts to diversify, a new report shows.

The region's Gross Domestic Product grew by 3.4 percent, with wholesale and retail trade the largest contributors following a rebound in the area's population, the Orlando Economic Development Commission's Business Intelligence Department said.

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Wholesale trade involves the movement of goods from manufacturers to retail enterprises. Retail trade is the resale of new and used goods to the general public.

Orlando's GDP, which is the value of all goods and services produced, was also boosted by the tourism and health care industries, as well as well as finance and insurance, said Neil Hamilton, the EDC's business intelligence director.

Minor pullbacks in government and natural resources subtracted a bit from total growth.

The report follows Friday's release of the national GDP for the second quarter of this year, which showed 3.9 percent growth. The Business Development Department issued its Orlando GDP for 2014 because there is a lag in the time the federal government makes regional data available.

Miami, at 3 percent, came closest to Orlando's 3.4 percent expansion, Hamilton said.

Orlando's growth was almost one and a half times the collective 2.3 percent growth seen by all U.S. metropolitan areas, and the increase extended the region's recent growth trajectory after a 2.3 percent increase in 2013, and a 0.9 percent rise in 2012.

Since 2009, when the recession ended, Orlando's economy has steadily expanded, Hamilton noted. Goods and services produced in the area are up 16 percent, or by $16 billion, in six years, from $100 billion in 2009.

Of comparative regions around the country that are deemed by the EDC's Orlando Economic Forum to have similar economic characteristics, competitive traits or desirable qualities, Orlando's growth rate in 2014 was surpassed by just four other regions.

Austin and Portland both received bounces from manufacturing, Denver was part of an energy wave that lifted much of the western United States and Nashville's smaller economy turned a smaller absolute gain into a larger growth rate, Hamilton said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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