Corridor In The News
Orlando home to growing high-tech, creative industries
by Richard Bilbao
Friday, July 15, 2011
Video games. Simulators. Mobile apps. Storm Troopers.
These things all contribute to Central Florida's growing geek cred - a sought-after status that helps attract high-wage jobs to the area, boosting the local economy.
"In 10 years, I would expect the downtown landscape to be filled with a few more thousand technology geeks and a startup company or two that will go big, alongside the growth in high-wage industries," said Ben Noel, executive director for the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy.
"These people make more money, demand more infrastructure and education, and are willing to pay for it."
In fact, creative tech industry professionals typically are highly educated, young and prefer to live in urban centers.
So it's no surprise that metro Orlando's growing tech sector hub embraces creativity and innovation. After all, they generate billions of dollars in products or services annually. In fact, most communities would like more high-wage jobs, "and biomedical, simulation, engineering, digital media are all specific industries that will grow with our population," said Noel.
For instance, Central Florida:
- Is home to more than 78 digital media-related firms that employ roughly 14,000 people, according to the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission. That industry alone generated more than $313 million in 2010 revenue.
- Hosts significant events catering to pop-culture tech fans, such as the Star Wars Celebration convention, which focuses on the Star Wars film franchise. In 2010, the event drew more than 35,000 attendees to the Orange County Convention Center and resulted in more than $39 million in economic impact from hotel stays, shopping and restaurant visits. The event will return to Orlando in August 2012 for Star Wars Celebration VI.
- Has been home to Otronicon, the annual computer, video game, simulation and robotics convention at the Orlando Science Center; and BotCon, an annual convention on the popular Transformers toy line, television and feature film property that held its event at Walt Disney World Resort in 2010.
- Plans to build the $800 million Creative Village project, redeveloping 68 acres in downtown around the former Orlando Arena into a community with homes, education, retail and high-tech jobs. Demolition of the former arena is slated for this fall.
- Has a high-tech infrastructure and game development hub that includes EA Tiburon, Full Sail University and the University of Central Florida's Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy - a major gaming institute that resulted from a partnership with Electronic Arts and the city of Orlando.
- Is the world hub for simulation training with the National Center for Simulation.
. Has a thriving film and television industry.
- Has emerging technologies at local theme parks like the 4-D experience of the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure.
- Is home to the trend of co-working labs, where independent workers gather in a single space to bounce ideas off each other in a creative environment or collaborate with others in similar creative industries, such as website design and social media.
"The local high-tech clusters are built on the research strengths of area universities as well as collaborations with corporate partners," said Randy Berridge, president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.
For more details on some of the companies contributing to Orlando's growing geek cred, see the stories below.