This year’s State of The City Address marked the beginning of my 11th year serving as Mayor of the City of Orlando and served as an excellent platform to reaffirm my continuing commitment to working for all Orlando families making this City a great place to live, work, learn and raise a family.

A year ago we said Orlando was slowly rebounding from the devastating effects of the recession, but that we were primed to come back faster and stronger because of the work our community has done to strengthen small businesses and diversify our economy. Today, signs of movement are everywhere.  Orlando has showed signs of economic recovery, from the lowest unemployment rate in four years to remarkable increases in commercial and residential permitting to more than $670 million in projects underway and $500 million projects expected to start soon in Downtown Orlando.

We’re seeing growth in our housing market and our region is expected to see more than 27-thousand jobs created in the year ahead, which would wipe out the losses we’ve experienced since 2008.  And, commercial permitting has doubled in the last two years. Driving this upturn are Orlando’s neighborhood businesses.

Established in 2008, Orlando Main Street program is an economic development program specifically targeted to provide technical assistance, training and staff support to urban commercial districts in the City of Orlando.  Since it was launched, the program has helped more than 400 new businesses open, created 24-hundred jobs and generated a 137 million dollar re-investment in our districts.  More striking than the numbers are the stories of these hometown entrepreneurs who are pursuing their American dream.

Creating the success stories of the future, and growing and retaining a talented workforce, is the mission of two of our City’s “knowledge industry” clusters: The Medical City at Lake Nona and Downtown Orlando’s Creative Village. At the Creative Village, we’re building the infrastructure to support our future live, work, learn and play neighborhood for technology workers.  The Medical City has come to life, with all of its major facilities scheduled to be operating in the year ahead. The Medical City will ultimately create more than 30-thousand jobs and a ten-year economic impact of 8 billion dollars.

Major League Soccer (MLS) is expanding and Orlando is at the top of its list. But, securing a franchise requires a new urban stadium. We have an ownership group prepared to invest in our community, but timing is critical and we have a limited window of opportunity. So, we owe it to our community to work together to make this happen.  Soccer is the world’s most popular sport particularity in Brazil, Central and South America. This means a world of soccer fans, and their economic impact, could be at our front door.

A new MLS franchise in Orlando would generate nearly $1.2 billion in new direct spending over the next 30 years including the construction of a stadium, which alone would generate nearly 1,000 jobs.

I have no doubt that we will continue working together for the future of our city. The best times are yet to come and with the help of residents, local governments and private enterprise, we will turn Orlando into a modern metropolis worth admiring.