Orlando Mayor On City’s Growing Tech Scene

Beneath the shadow of Orlando’s tourism, there’s another sector that is fueling the region’s economic growth. Technology has become Orlando’s second largest industry and is catching the eye of major corporations including, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) and Siemens.

With an unemployment rate beneath 5%, Orlando ranked number one in the nation for job growth in the first three quarters of last year, according to Forbes. And while many of the employment opportunities are at Disney (NYSE:DIS), the city also employs thousands of software developers, computer programmers, graphic designers and engineers.

“We have a great ecosystem for techies and entrepreneurs,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a video interview with FOXBusiness.com.  “We have been trying, in the last two decades, to diversify our economy.”

Almost $2 billion in venture capital was invested in the Southeast region last year, with over $800 million allocated to Florida, according to the National Venture Capital Association. With organizations like the National Entrepreneur Center and the Orlando Tech Association, the region has made an effort to attract and retain technology talent.

Apple has been hiring hardware engineers in the area and Deloitte is in the process of hiring 1000 tech professionals for its new IT center in Orlando. Gaming companies like Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) also have a presence in Orlando.

“We have a wealth of talent,” Dyer said. “We’re very well known for entrepreneurship and starting small businesses and that’s where we have grown.”

Orlando has an “unbelievably good business climate,” Rick Weddle, CEO of Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, said. Weddle said that this stems from “no personal income tax, a great quality of life and very strong intellectual assets among our universities,” like the University of Florida and University of Central Florida.

The city has had some notable technology acquisitions in the past few years. Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) bought Channel Intelligence for $125 million in 2013 and Aspect Software bought Voxeo Corp. for $150 million that same year.

And the tourism industry also has uses for technology.

“Theme parks use engineers and animators and all types of high tech professions,” Dyer pointed out.

Orlando is making efforts to attract “a talent pool that’s on the cutting edge of doing great things in engineering, virtual reality,” Ken Potrock, senior vice president at the Disney Vacation Club and chairman of Orlando’s branding campaign, said. “Those are all things that help business in general but they help the theme park industry as well.”

The city’s economic development campaign has been labeled “Orlando, You Don’t Know the Half of It,” an effort to bring attention to the city’s employment opportunities outside of tourism. We are trying to show “the real Orlando, the other side,” Dyer said.