ORLANDO, Fla. — As the Orlando region struggles to keep up with growth, leaders are honing in on priorities, like building the transportation of tomorrow.
“I think with everything in transportation, people talk about not just weeks and months, but years,” said Tim Giuliani, the president and CEO of the Orlando Economic Partnership. “From an access standpoint, we can’t be cutting people off from the economy and companies from access to talent.”
Due to the pandemic, the Partnership held their annual advocacy trip to Washington, D.C. virtually, adopting seven priorities in their recently-compiled Transportation Report, co-authored by the Alliance for Regional Transportation, or ART.
The priorities range from building out regional transit systems and transforming all of Interstate 4, to leading in transportation innovation.
And by mapping out such priorities and speaking with a “unified voice,” Giuliani says the not-for-profit, private/public partnership can better advance Central Florida needs and wrangle top dollars for projects.
“Speak with one voice for these types of things when we meet with leaders in Washington and Tallahassee gives our region a leg up, because at the end of the day, this is essentially a competition for funds,” he said.
Having robust options, including surrounding transportation, not only enhances the general appeal of the area, but helps the business community compete as well when it comes to recruiting top talent.
“A lot of resumes I look at are from people outside of Orlando,” said Tommy Bliven, continuing, “Most of them will leave their cars behind or they won’t have it right away, so accessibility is very important, especially if you’re looking at Millennials or Gen Z, they want options.”
Bliven is the Director of Marketing for Pandera, a tech and data consulting company with an office in downtown Orlando off West Colonial Drive.
While his company has traded in-person for virtual meetings, they actually picked up new contracts during the pandemic—and are growing and hiring.
It’s a recurring theme in the area. For instance, the population of the Central Florida region exploded from 400,000 residents in 1950 to 4.4 million in 2018, per the report.
By 2030, just 10 years from now, The Partnership said that the Central Florida region is projected to reach a population of 5.2 million people, which amounts to 800,000 more than today.
But, transportation options have not kept up with the growth, hence The Partnership’s focus on enhancing mobility.
According to the same Partnership Transportation Report, Orlando urbanized area commuters spent 57 hours on average in traffic in 2017, which is a rise from 43 hours in 2000.
Bliven said that he would applaud any government investment in infrastructure or transportation, as it makes his job “selling” the region to potential employees even easier.
“Just like when we’re building a product or selling software, people compare features. They’re going to look at your city when they choose, like, ‘They have this feature, they have this feature, they don’t have this,’” he said. “I think it would help us sell the city as for the lifestyle, being able to get around."