After the session began with a promotional video detailing Orlando’s budding potential as a tech hub, Guiliani said the video needed to be updated “almost weekly” due to developments that continue to benefit the City Beautiful.
“The MetaCenter isn’t an aspirational goal, it’s not something we’re trying to become,” Giuliani said. “It’s actually tapping into our history and who we already are.”
He started with the founding of the Space Coast that made Central Florida the epicenter of the space industry. “Cattle and citrus” became “rockets and shuttles,” and to enable that shift, the region needed an ecosystem with a workforce that could support it. That history with space, according to Giuliani, was one of a few propelling mechanisms that have resulted in the MetaCenter in Central Florida.
“Not only was the Space Race underway, but soon Walt Disney World was built to the south,” Giuliani said. “These two pools of creativity and innovation combined to really produce what we now know as the MetaCenter.”
He also mentioned the Central Florida Research Park, where much of the technology applied to the space industry is born, developed, and tested, as well as its proximity to University of Central Florida (UCF) that was founded to provide talent to the space program. UCF also represents the largest concentration of AR/VR faculty and research in the world.
“There was so much hope and optimism that we’d hit an inflection point and that the world was beginning to see Orlando as a tech hub,” Giuliani said, jumping to 2019. “And then the pandemic happened… but there was one constant in Central Florida during that time, and that was growth. It never stopped, and for the last 50 years, our region has grown by 1000 people a week.”
That population growth has also been a factor in jobs, Giuliani noted. Of the 1.3 million working people in Central Florida, 91,000 are in tech jobs, indicating that Orlando clearly has a significant talent pool. In just the last decade, 24,000 of those tech jobs were added to comprise that current total, a growth of 36% that has attracted talent making Orlando second in the country for large metro areas in job growth.
Giuliani also displayed several other growth indicators during his talk, wherein Orlando ranked first or second, such as growing city for entrepreneurs, salaries for IT workers, and city with the most start-ups. He also mentioned the presence of gaming, AI, digital twin, 3D construction, defense and semiconductor firms that have contributed to the foundation of the MetaCenter.
“If you’re looking for a place that’s full of opportunity and full of growth – that needs its highlight reel updated on an almost weekly basis – the OEP has people who can help you transition into this market,” Giuliani said, ending with a call to action. “We hope all of you will find your way to the MetaCenter.”
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