When people think of Orlando they may think about walking down Main Street USA on a warm summer day with a melting Mickey bar in their hands. While this sounds lovely, and like a situation I’ve been in on more than one occasion, there is so much more to Orlando’s various industries than theme parks and tourist traps. Every field ranging from the hospitality and tourism industries to healthcare, aerospace aviation and even information technology are looking to grow their businesses even further in the upcoming years.
Coming in as the second largest employer in central Florida behind the Walt Disney World Resort is one of the key figures in Orlando health and life sciences, AdventHealth. AdventHealth boasts more than 20 hospitals and emergency rooms and 3,400+ physicians in the seven counties that make up central Florida. Along with AdventHealth, Orlando Health has 16 hospitals and emergency rooms, 3,000+ physicians on staff and a variety of other free standing offices and medical facilities. Nemours Children’s Hospital, the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida also call the Orlando area home.
Hospitality and Tourism
When most people think of Orlando they instantly envision the world class theme parks that call it home. Just before the Covid-19 pandemic, Walt Disney Disney World reported an annual attendance of nearly 258 million visitors in 2019. With the hospitality and tourism sector making up about 80% of Orlando’s workforce, the popularity of Orlando’s main attractions will only continue to enforce growth within the industry. Proving this, Universal Studios Orlando announced plans last year to build a new park called Universal’s Epic Universe. The 750 acre property is expected to be developed and completed sometime in early 2025.
While the theme parks contribute to a large majority of the makeup of tourism in Orlando, central Florida is also home to the second largest convention center in the country. The over two million square foot event space plays host to massive events including the American Kennel Club National Championship dog show, conferences, expos and a variety of sports competitions. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the convention center had over 666,000 visitors that brought in almost $1.5 billion in revenue.
Aviation and Aerospace
Orlando might not have the bragging rights of claiming Kennedy Space Center as one of their own, but thankfully the Space Coast is less than an hour’s drive away from downtown Orlando. The biggest and best aerospace corporations in the world take up residence in nearby Cape Canaveral including SpaceX, Blue Origin, the United Launch Alliance and, of course, NASA. Central Florida has seen tremendous growth over the last five to ten years with companies relocating thanks to its prime location on the coast and low taxes. Central Florida is also a hub for the production of parts and materials used to build spacecrafts.
With tourism being the biggest industry in central Florida, visitors have to have some way to get here, right? Right! Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in the state and welcomes around 50 million visitors a year. You heard that right… 50 million! While Orlando isn’t necessarily considered a hub for any major airlines, JetBlue, Frontier and Southwest and Spirit all bring a considerable amount of business to Orlando.
Many people would argue that information technology is becoming the biggest business in the United States, and while that may be true, that could definitely be the case for Orlando specifically in the coming years. In 2018 Forbes ranked Orlando as the number one city for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) job growth in the U.S.
There is so much growth happening here that these fields are only going to become more innovative and in demand. Central Florida is already a great place for them to call home and more and more businesses and corporations are starting to see the benefits of growing in the sunshine state. Whatever the next 10 years bring for Florida’s economy, you can promise it will be bigger and better than ever.