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State of the City 2016 Fact Sheet

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s State of the City Address
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Orlando: The City Connected

“The state of our City, The City Beautiful, is strong and poised for great things. To achieve those great things, and be the defining city of the 21st Century, we  must become Orlando:  The City Connected.”

Thirteen years ago, when Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer took office, our community joined together to create a shared vision to shape Orlando into a place that is truly by everyone and for everyone.

To achieve this, we made strategic investments in:

  • The tools, technology and training that fuel our superior police and fire protection.
  • Bringing world-­class sports, art and entertainment here through our venues.
  • Expanding our parks and strengthening our neighborhoods.
  • Bolstering our transit options and building SunRail.
  • Invigorating our Downtown and making it the economic and cultural hub of our  entire region.
  • Helping thousands of businesses open or grow.
  • Creating our tech and life sciences industry clusters.
  • And, building an environment that nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship.

Building on this strong foundation, in the century ahead Orlando will become America’s new home for innovation, transportation, opportunity, inclusiveness and quality of life.

In today’s State of the City address, Mayor Dyer highlighted four key initiatives that will ensure Orlando is the defining City of the 21st Century that drives our country forward.

Connected to Opportunity
“To create the economy that defines the century ahead and provides unparalleled prosperity for our residents, we must become America’s new home for opportunity, education and innovation.  To accomplish this, we must create a ladder to the middle class and beyond for every single person who calls our City home.”

Parramore Community School

  • In 2014, the City of Orlando conveyed 3.63 acres of vacant land in Parramore to the Orange County School Board for the construction of a PreK-8 community school.
  • The new school will provide the Parramore community with a much-needed neighborhood school where the children of Parramore can gather together to learn and develop, right in their own neighborhood.
  • The Community School model is unique and includes a pre-school, full-service Boys & Girls Club and a healthcare clinic for students and the entire Parramore community.
  • The new school is expected to open in the fall 2017.

Opportunity Jobs Academy

  • Launched in 2015, the City’s Opportunity Jobs Academy is a pilot program that provides high school juniors and seniors in the City’s youth programs with pre-job training and mentorship.
  • The program exposes students to different jobs that exist in their communities and gives them the skills necessary to apply for and succeed in getting their first job and turning it into a career.
  • Since its inception, 32 students have completed the program with 78 percent of the graduates currently holding 20+ hour per week jobs.
  • Each semester-long session involves after-school trainings where mentors from local, entry-level employers teach important job skills like time management, goal setting, job interview preparation and professional communication.
  • Additionally, each student is paired with a mentor to receive at least three, one-on-one, on-site trainings where the mentor is employed.
  • Since the program’s inception, 55 mentors have participated in the program, from employers like Craig Miller’s Field House, Domino’s, Firehouse Subs, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, Marlow’s Tavern, MetroPCS, Orlando World Center Marriott, Panda Express, Planet Smoothie, Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld, Smokey Bones, Sweet Tomatoes, Tap Room at Dubsdread, Tibby’s, Tijuana Flats, Wendy’s and World Quest International.

Nurturing Our Homegrown Companies

  • Victory Tailgate, started in a garage in 2008, has grown to become the largest manufacturer of custom tailgate games in the United States. The $40 million company already has 250 employees and plans to add 100 more high-quality jobs in the next year.
  • uBreakiFix, opened its first storefront in Orlando after its founder got the idea for the business when he repaired his own broken iPhone screen. Today uBreakiFix is number 13 on Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing companies in America with more than 120 stores across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
  • The storytelling robot TROBO, a product of our Starter Studio tech accelerator, was inspired by questions one of the co-founder’s children would ask.  Today, more than 1,000 of these tech toys have been sold and this Friday, April 8, the founders will be featured on ABC’s Shark Tank.


  • The City has contributed $100,000 to FireSpring to help grow seed funding for local technology and advanced manufacturing startups.
  • The non-profit seed fund, FireSpring has raised more than $500,000 to date, with a goal to reach $1 million by the end of the year.
  • Starting today, Tuesday, April 5, startups can apply for FireSpring’s first round of available funding to help grow their company to the next level.  

Connected to Each Other
“To become America’s 21st Century City, a city by and for everyone, we must also become America’s new home for inclusiveness.  That means seizing the momentum we’ve generated in reducing homelessness and do even more.”


  • The City of Orlando has dedicated four million dollars this year towards homeless initiatives that provide critical funding for unique programs that cities around the country are seeking to replicate, including:
    • To date, because of the case management provided with permanent, supportive housing, we have not needed to use this fund because the landlords haven’t incurred these costs. 
    • The City’s Shared Risk Fund, which was established to help overcome perceived risks and costs of renting to the homeless and encourage landlords to provide housing for the chronically homeless.  The program offers participating landlords reimbursement for short-term vacancies and minor repairs to units rented as part of the Central Florida Supportive Housing Program.
    • The Barrier Buster Fund was created by the City to eliminate barriers to housing by paying for things needed to successfully set up a home like furniture and pet deposits.  Providing this additional support ensures a successful transition to permanent supportive housing. 
  • Today, Mayor Dyer announced the creation of a new position that will be solely dedicated to solving homelessness.
    • Mayor Dyer will appoint Lori Pampilo Harris, who previously worked for CSH, the nation’s leader in advancing housing solutions for our most vulnerable populations, to serve as Senior Advisor to the Mayor on Homelessness and Social Services.
    • This new position will ensure a continued focus on the complex issue of homelessness, a top priority for the City of Orlando and the entire Central Florida region.


  • Every day in Central Florida, hundreds of young adults between the ages of 18-24 are homeless.
  • To address this issue, the Central Florida Homeless Commission, in partnership with the City of Orlando and Phil and Kay Rawlins, have formed a new task force to study youth homelessness in our community and develop a comprehensive and coordinated effort to identify solutions for youth homelessness.
  • The task force will seek to replicate best practices from cities across the country that respond to the unique needs and circumstances these youths face.



Connected to Housing Options
“Serving our residents means providing access to quality, safe and affordable housing.”


  • The City has partnered with non-profits, businesses and private developers to construct five new affordable housing developments, including:
    • Transforming a vacant six-acre site in Parramore into a mixed-income housing development across from Z.L. Riley Park.  The vision for this development is a variety of residential building types including apartments and townhome-style units that will offer affordable housing, permanent supportive housing and market-rate housing.
    • Redeveloping three vacant, foreclosed properties on Mercy Drive into quality, affordable housing through a partnership with Ability Housing.  The new development will include a total of 160 units dedicated to affordable housing for families and permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless.  
    • A new 116-unit multi-family housing development, Amelia Court at Creative Village, will have a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments and provide a new option for families looking to live near the adjacent Parramore Community School.
    • Other projects include: The Villages at West Lakes and Heroes’ Commons.

Connected to Your Government & Superior City Services
“To own the 21st century, Orlando must become America’s home for a new class of modern, data-driven, cost-effective City services.”

Special Victims Response Team

  • In 2015, the Orlando Police Department received approximately 1,500 calls for service related to special victim crimes, which equates to nearly four calls a day.
  • To combat this growing nationwide epidemic, OPD is creating a Special Victims Response Team (SVRT) of first-responder patrol officers who will be specially-trained to respond immediately to crimes like sexual assault, child abuse, rape, neglect or exploitation.
  • More than 30 first-responders, approximately one from each patrol squad in OPD, have volunteered to join this team and will receive specialized training to respond to special victims with the appropriate sensitivities and address their immediate needs.  
  • The training will help enhance the investigations of these crimes, getting crucial information from special victims and helping to preserve crime scenes and valuable evidence to ultimately lead to the conviction of the criminal.

White House’s Police Data Initiative 

  • OPD is the only agency in Florida participating in the Police Data Initiative which grew out of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
  • As part of this, OPD will be one of the first agencies in the country to release domestic violence and sexual assault related data.  Providing increased access to this type of data will help OPD and advocates enhance and introduce programs and partnerships to reduce and prevent these crimes from happening in the first place.
  • On Friday, April 22, Orlando Police Chief John Mina will lead a national discussion at the White House showcasing the innovative ways OPD is utilizing this data and serving as a national model for how data can be used to better understand the dynamics behind these crimes and how to prevent them.