ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivered his annual State of the City Address Monday, celebrating the city's successes and laying the foundation for its future.
After rescheduling his speech from last week due to President Donald Trump's visit to Orlando, the mayor joined members of the community Monday morning at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to deliver his remarks, which first focused on the city's recent accomplishments.
Dyer credited the community's spirit of collaboration and the power of its partnerships as the keys to the city's continued success.
“Together, we have shaped Orlando into a 21st century city filled with vitality and ambition,” Dyer said. “Despite all of the national negativity and division, Orlando is defined by what unites us. We do this because we know that unity, collaboration and partnership are the keys to opening the doors of prosperity for all of us.”
Dyer then announced plans for future initiatives and the push to be what leaders are calling a "future ready" city, according to a news release.
The mayor invited eight Orlando residents to share their stories and tell the community in their own words what they believe it means to be "future ready." Each of the residents discussed different topics, including investing in neighborhood infrastructure projects, addressing homelessness through “housing first” efforts, embracing equality and diversity and further cultivating the “soul of the city” with unique foodie scenes and fusions of culture in the Main Street districts, the news release said.
Dyer said to be a "future ready" city, the community must recognize the challenges they face, and continue to address them rather than back down from them, like Orlando plans to do with its affordable housing crisis and investments in transportation infrastructure.
“Our traffic headaches are not going to get any better, they are only going to get worse if our community does not make significant investments in transportation infrastructure. Not every resident will use every transit option, but we need transit options for every resident,” Dyer said. “Our economy and our ability to attract high-paying employers depends on it and that’s why we are standing with our residents and Mayor Demings to invest in expanded mobility options in Central Florida.”
Dyer said Orlando's future is not set in stone, but that it is working toward putting itself in the best position possible to continue making the most of the opportunities that come the city's way.
Read more highlights from the mayor's "future ready" speech below.
Providing Housing for Everyone
“I am proud that the city has made significant investments in housing. All of this adds up to a commitment that our city is making to our residents. That anyone who wants to live in our city can live in our city.”
- In the last five years, the City of Orlando has invested nearly $32 million to create or preserve housing options for residents.
- The city is currently building or rehabilitating more than 1,400 multifamily rental units and more than 160 new units that provide an opportunity for residents who want to achieve the American dream of homeownership.
- In total, the city has initiated the creation of 14 different affordable housing developments.
- City code has been amended to encourage more small apartment buildings of eight units or less and more “micro” housing units, which are typically faster to develop and more affordable.
- Recent code amendments also allow for “granny flats” or accessory cottages in single-family districts to help expand the stock of affordable rental housing. In less than a year, the city has permitted nearly 100 units.
Leading in Innovation
“Our future depends on our ability to attract and grow talent, take advantage of the sweeping technological advancements coming our way and our ability to expand opportunity for everyone.”
- Orlando is developing a “Future-Ready Master Plan” that will allow the city to better leverage technology and serve as a road map to address current and future challenges.
- Seeing the race to 5G as the modern equivalent of the space race, the city launched a first-of-its kind initiative to expedite 5G wireless permitting to ensure that Orlando benefits sooner from the jobs and economic opportunities brought by this revolutionary technology.
- By 2020, the city will add 100 electric vehicle charging stations and further continue to convert the city’s fleet of cars and buses to electric.
Expanding Opportunities for Small Businesses
“List after list now touts Orlando as one of the best cities anywhere to start a business. Being featured like this helps us attract investment and promote our brand to the world.”
- The number of permits received by the City of Orlando has more than doubled in the past decade, but through the implementation of Permitting Express, the majority of these are approved in less than 15 days.
- This year, the city will apply that same model to the commercial construction industry through the launch of a new “Permit By Appointment” initiative.
- The Church Street District will expand into Parramore to provide a way for already-established businesses from the Central Business District to provide mentorship to other entrepreneurs.
- Earlier this year Orlando became the first city in Florida to create a network of certified LGBTQ+ owned businesses to provide a better connection to the city's contracting and training opportunities.
Prioritizing Public Safety
“Our standard of excellence and desire to show leadership extends to everything we do to keep our city safe.”
- Through the hard work of the Orlando Police Department, overall crime continues to decline, including a 50 percent decrease in residential burglaries over the last four years.
- Earlier this year, the Orlando Police Department implemented a new operational structure to add six new patrol squads to increase the number of available officers during the early afternoon and late evening hours when calls for service are highest.
- This year the city will break ground on three state-of-the-art replacement fire stations that serve the Rosemont, Baldwin Park and Dover Shores neighborhoods.
- As part of the city’s efforts to increase diversity, these fire stations have been designed to ensure there are private areas for both men and women.
- To provide the highest level of emergency medical service in the most efficient manner, Orlando Fire Department is hiring 29 new civilian paramedics and EMTs for medical transport.
- Currently underway is one of the city’s largest projects to upgrade the computer aided 911 dispatch system. The new system integrates both OPD and OFD into a unified dispatch system to increase operational efficiency, interagency collaboration and further enhance the safety of our residents.
- The city is launching a new recruitment initiative to bring more women, minorities and veterans into public safety careers.