January 23, 2012
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This past Saturday, I had the opportunity
to join with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund at the Call for
Photos event, a national campaign to locate photos of the 58,272
service members memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
in Washington, DC.
At this event, The Wall that Heals, a traveling half-scale replica
of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was on display for residents to
visit at Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando.
I was honored to be a part of this important event recognizing our
veterans. I want to thank all of our veterans and active military
personnel for their sacrifice and service.
Last week, I was in Washington, D.C., for the US Conference of
Mayors Winter Meetings. You'll remember that our City is hosting the
organization's annual convention later this summer.
While in Washington, we got word that the president was traveling to
Orlando for an important announcement about tourism. The White House
was nice enough to extend an offer to me to fly with President Obama
aboard Air Force One back to Orlando.
The trip gave me the chance to personally brief the President and
his team about the issues that are important to the residents of our
City. The steps the President announced out at Walt Disney World
will make it easier for visitors from other countries to enjoy all
that Orlando has to offer and will also help strengthen our local
Orlando Ranking in FDI Magazine
FDI magazine has ranked Orlando the top city in the country for
business friendliness in its annual rankings of the "top cities for
the future.” Orlando was selected because of its recognition as an
emerging technology and innovation hub.
Orlando continues to build on this strength with the development of
the Creative Village already underway. Studies estimate that the
Creative Village will create 6,500 jobs during construction and
5,000 permanent jobs at build-out.
You can stay informed about the project, by visiting
State of the City
I would to invite everyone to please join me on Wednesday, February
29, at 10 a.m. at UCF’s College of Medicine in Orlando’s Medical
City at Lake Nona for my annual State of the City Address.
During my address, I will have the opportunity to share with you how
we are building on the progress made in the past years and our
vision for moving Orlando ahead.
I encourage everyone to check out
CityofOrlando.net and my
Facebook page for more information
before and after the speech.
NBA All-Star Tickets and Events
The NBA All-Star weekend, February 23 – 26, 2012, will be much more
than a sports and entertainment experience for our residents and
visitors. It will bring continued economic impact to our entire
I want to let everyone know that there are events open and available
to the public beyond the All-Star game itself. Please visit nba.com/allstar2012
for information on when tickets go on sale for various events. The
NBA All-Star 5k registration is also now available. Please visit
nbarunwalkdribble.com to sign up for this event at Lake Eola Park in
At our next City Council meeting on February 6, Alex Martins,
President of the Orlando Magic, will provide us with an NBA All-Star
Mayor's City Academy
The City of Orlando is currently accepting applications for the 2012
session of the Mayor’s City Academy. The Mayor’s City Academy is a
10-week program that provides citizens a unique opportunity to gain
knowledge about their City government.
Participants will interact with our police and
fire departments, learn about Downtown development, participate in
activities with our Families, Parks and Recreation Department and
learn more about our housing and transportation initiatives.
The 2012 session will begin on Thursday, March 8.
Visit CityofOrlando.net to
apply online. The application
deadline is Friday, February 3.
I would also like to invite everyone to join me at the sixth annual
Blues B-Q festival. Enjoy a free Blues concert featuring great live
music from Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, the Lee Boys and other
Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, February 18, from 3
to10 p.m. at Church Street Plaza in front of Amway Center. For more
Domestic Partner Registry
On Thursday, January 12, the City’s new domestic partnership
registry went into effect.
I want to thank all of the staff in the City Clerk’s office as they
have been very busy helping interested couples sign up to be a part
of this registry. To date, they have helped 132 couples sign the
registry with 29 of them signing up on the first day.
I have been incredibly moved by all of the
positive comments I’ve received since we passed this ordinance back
in December. I am so proud of this council and our City that we have
been able to take a leadership role on this important issue and help
give same-sex couples some of the same, basic rights that other
couples in committed relationships have.
We are excited to be taking this important step to
help make Central Florida a more inclusive place for everybody,
regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.
Items of Note
Today, the City Council approved a number of subdivision plats to
make way for new residential development. These developments, which
occur in various areas of the City, are a positive sign that our
local economy continues to rebound. There is no doubt that during
the recent recession, the real estate and construction industries
were some of the hardest hit. It is encouraging to see this activity
begin to activate once again in our community.
In addition to the residential development, two items on today’s
agenda, a plat and annexation, will make way for two new Wawa stores
– one on Silver Star Road and one on Semoran Boulevard.
We have heard a lot of Wawa buzz over the past few months, from
their decision to expand into Central Florida to the groundbreaking
of their first store. We are excited to welcome two additional Wawa
stores to Orlando and are thankful to have a company like Wawa
investing in our region, creating new jobs, infusing capital into
the marketplace, and putting builders and contractors to work.
One example of our community’s diligence to attract additional
jobs for residents can be seen by our approval of the
redevelopment bonus and economic incentive we are approving on behalf of
Publix Super Markets today.
Publix is the largest and fastest-growing employee owned supermarket
chain in the United States, and the company owns property in the Lee
Vista area of the City. Publix is considering constructing an
approximately one million square foot, $188 million frozen food and
produce distribution center on the site, which will support the
company’s significant growth.
The project is expected to create 156 new jobs over the next three
years paying an average annual wage of at least 115% of the Orlando
Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
We are pleased that Publix has identified Orlando for its future
expansion and would like to thank Publix for investing in our
community and for the jobs it is creating for our residents.
On today’s agenda is our annual funding for the Parramore Kidz
Zone (PKZ). Together with Commissioner Lynum we have been working to
revitalize the Parramore neighborhood and one of the key pathways is
Children and Education. This week, the work done with PKZ was
recognized by the White House.
President Barack Obama formed the White House Council for Community
Solutions to tackle a national priority: putting every young adult
on a pathway to economic opportunity. To help communities take
action, the Council sent researchers to review successful
“needle-moving” models across the country and create a toolkit that
empowers communities to replicate these models.
In addition to programs in Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta, Boston,
and other sites around the country, Orlando’s Parramore Kidz Zone
was one of the programs reviewed. The review culminated in the
release by the White House, last week, of the Community
Collaboratives Toolbox, designed to guide other communities hoping
to create or improve their own needle-moving programs. The Toolbox
included a detailed case study of Parramore Kidz Zone.
The funding on today’s agenda will allow us to continue funding
these types of programs that help students achieve academic goals,
engage in out-of-school activities like a new cheerleading team and
assist teens in finding jobs and internships.
On today’s agenda is an item that will help the City continue to
provide weatherization, energy conversation and home energy
rehabilitation to low-income households. Through this program – the
POWER Program - a partnership with OUC, the City is able to help
residents reduce energy consumption and lower their utility bills.
Since the summer of 2010, 70 homes have qualified for the program.