Tech Features Heavily in Orlando, Fla.'s State of the City

Embracing hyper-fast 5G Internet connectivity will allow for the integration of more autonomous vehicles, as well as economic and health care opportunities for the city, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

by Ryan Gillespie, Orlando Sentinel / June 26, 2019

(TNS) — Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer on Monday pitched Creative Village as a logical destination for tech-savvy workers fleeing Silicon Valley and said the sprint by cities and counties to deploy high-speed 5G connectivity is the equivalent of a modern space race.

In his annual State of the City speech, Dyer also highlighted gains in sustainability and in the Parramore neighborhood where a joint UCF-Valencia College campus is due to open in 63 days as part of the 68-acre Creative Village.

“To those companies and employees looking for a new home that’s affordable, has access to a talent pipeline and an incredible quality of life, there’s a place for you in Creative Village,” said Dyer, who has been mayor for 16 years and is running for re-election this fall.

However, he said improvement is needed across the region in affordable housing — where the Orlando region is listed among the worst in the nation — and in transportation, calling for expanded services of SunRail and Lynx to make travel to jobs easier.

Dyer supports a 2020 ballot initiative brought forward by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings to add a penny to the county sales tax to broaden transportation options.

“We must provide a variety of options that connect people to where they want to go,” he said. “Not every resident will use every transit option, but we need transit options for every resident. Our economy and our ability to attract high-paying employers depends on it, our quality of life depends on it, our future depends on it.”

Embracing hyper-fast 5G connectivity will allow for the integration of more autonomous vehicles, as well as economic and health-care gains, Dyer said. The region was named one of 10 autonomous vehicle proving grounds by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Beep recently announced it would run a driverless shuttle in Lake Nona.

Dyer said the city implemented a streamlined permitting process for 5G to allow quicker benefits.

Starting next month, driverless cars will be able to operate on Florida’s roads after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill this month.

This “helps us understand why the race to 5G is the modern equivalent to the space race, and why Orlando needs to win that race,” Dyer said.

Dyer also confirmed that the Church Street Main Street district — a city program that provides financial support and helps businesses in neighborhoods — will expand west into Parramore.

Commissioner Regina Hill, whose district encompasses Parramore, said the district could see a similar uptick in economic development as SODO — the Main Street acronym for South of Downtown Orlando.

“As Parramore is under renaissance of revitalization, we’re getting more small businesses there in that area, I think it’s very important for economic development,” Hill said. “When you start thinking about how sleepy SODO was and once the biz came together in a unified effort, SODO is a perfect example.”

Dyer’s speech opened with a comparison of Orlando’s diversity to an inbound flight.

“It seems like everywhere we look, we’re encouraged to define ourselves by what divides us: Our political party, our race, our religion, our gender, our sexual orientation, where we were born, what language we speak or how much money we make,” Dyer said. “Not in Orlando…we’ve proven there’s a better way.”

©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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