Orlando, the Next Silicon Valley

Katie Blair

Silicon Valley has long been defined as a place of opportunity and innovation. However, a high cost of living and a competitive talent pool are forcing individuals and businesses to look at other locations around the country for the next tech destination.

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Source: pexels.com used under CC license.

So, where to next?

In a recent article, Jeff Barrett highlights Orlando as a new destination for migrating tech innovators. He hits the nail on the head when he states, “at first blush you may think theme parks, retirees and tourism. But they have the largest university in the country, based on enrollment, in UCF. Downtown is young. And there’s a pipeline of talent both from universities and strong existing companies like Disney, Lockheed Martin and EA Sports.”

As VP + GM of the PAN Communications Southeast office, which happens to be located in Orlando, I could not agree more. PAN’s Southeast office works in lock-step with not just our San Francisco location but also our Boston headquarters and New York office. Each of these locations have sat at the forefront of tech for years, and our Southeast team has had a front row seat. We’ve partnered with these offices and worked with some of the most innovative organizations in the world. We’ve had the chance to identify the qualities that drive tech communities and at the same time witnessed Orlando starting to mirror some of these characteristics with the emergence of our strong tech community.

Why Orlando?

For those of us that are residents, we already know that Orlando is a city in which inclusiveness is woven into the fabric of our DNA. We are a city built on collaboration and partnership, with a strong passion for sustainability. However, perhaps one of the best qualities of Orlando is our impressive talent pool. Starting with our strong university system, it extends to the pipeline of candidates that are coming from powerhouse technology companies such as FIS, Fiserv, Lockheed Martin and Universal Studios. Our educational system is honing in on tech subject matters, making STEM more prevalent in K-12 schools. In addition, our universities are embracing technology incubation programs and new curriculum centered around topics like cybersecurity.

The Growing Tech Districts

Then there are the strong innovation hubs throughout the city. Right at the center is a new development, the Creative Village. Spanning 68 acres, the Creative Village will be one of the largest transit-oriented developments in the Southeast and will build upon Orlando’s deep digital roots and success. A little over 26 miles from the Creative Village is Medical City, designed for the advancement of healthcare and life sciences through medical care, research and education. Medical City is home to hospitals, universities, research institutions and life science companies in addition to the GuideWell Innovation Center, which supports organizations creating game-changing healthcare diagnostics, treatment and monitoring solutions. NeoCity is another technology district which houses the world’s first industry-led smart sensor consortium, BRIDG. Plans are already in the works for this particular hub to support a $15 million STEM-focused high school to drive future tech growth.

Case in Point

Orlando is already catching the eyes of tech companies. While organizations such as EA have a major presence here, the city has also celebrated relocation efforts from companies like Finexio, a financial tech company that provides a business-to-business commercial payment network. It was Orlando’s reputation as an emerging growth city for startups that attracted Finexio, and more organizations are sure to follow suit.

What’s ahead for Orlando and its bright future?

Over the course of the next few years Orlando will certainly be a city to keep tabs on. Our passion for our community, our drive for tech advancement and our thirst for forward-thinking innovation are catching the eyes and ears of many across the nation. With traditional anchor brands and a booming, up-and-coming tech scene further driving growth, Orlando is poised to be the next, big tech destination.

Interested in learning more about the tech scene in the Southeast? Check out some of our other recent blogs:

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Topics: Thought Leadership

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