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 December 2016

Throughout Orange County, there have been so many shining examples of how kindness and goodwill have united and strengthened our community in 2016. During this year's season of giving, I could not be more proud of how our citizens came together in the spirit of Orange County's neighbors helping neighbors philosophy for two holiday initiatives that truly commemorate and symbolize the season of joy. 
Our sixth annual Holiday Heroes Toy Drive saw nearly 7,000 toys collected by citizens and Orange County employees. The toys were distributed to local families through Orange County Neighborhood Centers for Families, Orange County Public Schools, United Against Poverty (formerly the Community Food and Outreach Center), Wraparound Orange and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. And, we had another record year of families, organizations, businesses and schools adopting all 41 Orange County Fire Stations with holiday meals and treats!  

Orange County has worked hard to maintain a burgeoning economy and excellent quality of life for our citizens and guests. As a result of the strategic and fiscally responsible management of Orange County's finances and assets, the County is able to help sustain one of the strongest job-growth rates in the nation. Equally important, the County's well-defined plans and community initiatives continue to enhance our outstanding quality of life, as well as sustaining this superb economic asset for future generations to come. 

On a national scale, Orange County continues to build a strong and prosperous community for our guests and citizens to enjoy. Forbes ranked the metropolitan statistical area No. 3 on its list of The Best Big Cities for Jobs in 2016, and also named Orlando one of the Top 10 Cities Americans Are Moving to Right Now. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report also named Orlando one of the Top 100 Places to Live in the nation.  

Just recently, Orange County celebrated the approval of funding for construction of Phase II of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. We have also seen the rollout of several INVEST in Our Home for Life projects, including the implementation of our revamped land development code, Orange Code and the I-Drive 2040 Vision - our proposed plan for the Convention Plaza District that supports a vibrant, dynamic and safe pedestrian-centered environment with dedicated transit lanes and sidewalk enhancements for local residents, conventioneers and visitors alike. 

Orange County's economy is thriving, and by working together, I am confident we will continue to succeed in 2017. To learn more about our economic progress, I invite you to attend the 2017 Economic Summit, scheduled for January 18, 2017, at the Orange County Convention Center. This year's Summit will feature Orange County's annual economic forecast by Sean Snaith, Ph.D., director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness and a widely recognized national expert. To RSVP, please visit Orange County's website.  

As we celebrate our region's accomplishments, please join me in welcoming two new members to Orange County's Board of County Commissioners - District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey and District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla. Please also join me in congratulating District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke on his re-election for a second term.  

My administration and I want to thank all of our citizens, business partners and elected officials for their service, commitment and dedication to maintaining Orange County as the best place to live, work and raise a family. We look forward to standing united and strong in 2017.  


Teresa Jacobs 
Orange County Mayor

Orange County BCC Approves TDT Plan, Including Funding to Complete the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orange County.
In early September, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs sent a letter to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) announcing her support for an additional $45 million of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) funding to complete the second and final stage of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (DPC) and to establish a sports bid fund in the initial amount of $5 million with annual replenishment amounts of up to $2 million. 

Mayor Jacobs also outlined an option the County has under the venues agreement to prepay the city's contract TDT debt with County refunding debt, which would then free-up substantial TDT funding so that the BCC could consider other spending priorities. 

After receiving strong support for the Mayor's TDT plan from the hospitality industry and the Tourist Development Council, the BCC unanimously approved this three-part proposal on November 1. 

"Today's decision is creating a new chapter in Orange County's history and will continue our vision of making our community the best place to live, work and raise a family," Mayor Jacobs said. 

The approved plan is an efficient way to take advantage of tourist-generated taxes and will not raise taxes or financially impact local residents. The TDT is a 6 percent tax on short-term lodging, such as hotel rooms. 

The $45 million in TDT funding for DPC will allow for the completion of Phase II of the DPC, which includes the acoustic Steinmetz Hall. Since opening in late 2014, the DPC has become one of the most celebrated artistic centers in the nation. The acoustic Steinmetz Hall will be the home of local performers, including the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orlando Ballet and Opera Orlando. Phase II will break ground in 2017, with an expected grand opening in 2020. 

In late January, the NFL Pro Bowl will be played right here at Camping World Stadium. With the substantial TDT investments that the County has made in our world class sporting venues, we have raised our profile as a place to host major professional and amateur sporting events. The establishment of a consolidated and dedicated sports bid fund under Visit Orlando will ensure that we can compete for the most beneficial and desirable sporting events for many years to come. 

Finally, over the last year, the County has heard presentations from our Orange County Convention Center regarding their campus master plan, which includes several proposed large capital projects to meet the needs of their customers. The County has also heard from the hospitality industry and the arts community about their requests for TDT funding for capital and operational needs. Prior to the Mayor's TDT plan being approved, there was no additional funding to address these additional requests. With the restructuring of the community venues debt, there will now be additional funding so that the BCC can consider other spending priorities. 

"I'm deeply grateful for the overwhelming support I received from our hospitality partners for the plan I rolled out in September," Mayor Jacobs said. "It creates historic opportunities to enrich our community for our local residents and families, while protecting the tens of thousands of families who are dependent on tourism for their livelihood."
For details on this story, visit Orange County's online Newsroom

Oath of Office Ceremony for Orange County District 1, 3 and 5 Held at Convention Center
[L-R] Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey, District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke, District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs gather at the Orange County Convention Center for the 2016 Oath of Office Ceremony.

More than 400 citizens gathered at the Orange County Convention Center on December 6 for the Orange County Oath of Office Ceremony. Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey and District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla were sworn in for their first terms, while District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke was sworn in for his second term.  

District 1 Commissioner VanderLey takes the seat formerly held by Commissioner S. Scott Boyd, who served two back-to-back terms; Commissioner Clarke, who was originally elected to the Board in 2012, will serve District 3 for another term. District 5 Commissioner Bonilla takes the seat previously held by Commissioner Ted Edwards, who served the District from 1996 through 2004, and was elected again in 2010 and 2012.  

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson, former District 1 Commissioner S. Scott Boyd and former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty were among the many dignitaries and citizens who attended the ceremony to welcome the newly elected commissioners. 

Mayor Jacobs provided the ceremony's closing remarks and reflected on the importance of public service, decision-making and the critical relationship between elected officials and the community.  

"As we prepare for a new commission and a new year, and as we embark on new partnerships for everything from transportation to housing and job creation, one thing that is not new, one partnership that is invaluable is the partnership that we have with our citizens," Mayor Jacobs said. "Working together with the entire Board, with our local government agencies, and each of you, we will continue to build an Orange County in which all may flourish." 

WFTV Channel 9 news anchor Jorge Estevez provided welcome remarks and emceed the ceremony, Chaplain Jim Schrader of Orange County Corrections delivered the invocation, the Central Florida Council of Boy Scouts of America offered the Presentation of Colors, Colonel Edwin R. Marrero, U.S. Army Retired and Chairman of the Orange County Mayor's Veterans Advisory Council led the Pledge of Allegiance, and Orange County Convention Center employee Linda Hall performed the National Anthem. 

For details on this story, visit Orange County's Online Newsroom.
"Let's Read Orange County" Initiative Launched at Week of Family Fun Day
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs kicks off her new initiative, Let's Read Orange County, at the Mayor's Family Fun Day presented by Week of the Family on November 5.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs kicked off her new initiative, Let's Read Orange County, at the Mayor's Family Fun Day, presented by Week of the Family. The annual celebration was held at Jay Blanchard Park on November 5. 

This yearlong initiative is a partnership with Mayor Jacobs, Orange County Government, Orange County Public Library System, the Citizens' Commission for Children and Just 1 Book, a bookmobile that has distributed more than 500,000 books to children in Central Florida. The initiative plans to improve literacy by providing 1,000 new library cards to Orange County residents. 

"The goal of Let's Read is to ensure that all Orange County citizens know about our wonderful public library system, and that they're able to obtain a library card, which provides free access to an endless array of books, music, videos and other learning resources," Mayor Jacobs said. 

Orange County Library System representatives were on-site at the Mayor's Family Fun Day to assist citizens with setting up library cards.  

Now in its 14th year, Week of the Family focuses on creating family-centered events as a way to strengthen and celebrate Orange County families throughout the first week of November. As part of Week of the Family, the Mayor's Family Fun Day provided guests with live entertainment, carnival-like games, crafts and more.  

For details on this story, visit Orange County's Online Newsroom.

I/ITSEC Conference Highlights Simulation Integration
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs joins National Training and Simulation Association President RADM James Robb, USN (Ret.) to present the 50th Anniversary of STEM Week proclamation at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference Opening Reception.

The 2016 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) kicked off on November 28 at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). I/ITSEC is the world's largest modeling, simulation and training conference. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs provided remarks during the opening night reception and congratulated I/ITSEC on celebrating its 50-year anniversary. 

The week-long conference consists of tutorials, special events, professional workshops, a commercial exhibit hall, game competitions and STEM events for teachers and secondary students. The theme selected for this year's conference, "Pushing the Training Envelope: Live-Virtual-Constructive," emphasized the need to seamlessly integrate live, virtual and constructive capabilities to enable military and civilian personnel to train on the complex tasks enabled by today's technological advances that are not practical, or possible, in the real world.  

I/ITSEC is organized by the National Training and Simulation Association (NTSA), which promotes international and interdisciplinary cooperation within the fields of modeling, simulation, training, education, analysis and related disciplines at this annual meeting. The NTSA is an affiliate subsidiary of the National Defense Industrial Association. 

This year, the conference hosted 20,000 attendees. I/ITSEC has made a commitment to host the conference at the OCCC through 2025 for an economic impact of $39.4 million.
For more details on the Orange County Farm Bureau Membership Dinner, visit Orange County's online Newsroom.

Orange County Recognizes Central Florida Workplace Challenge
Central Florida Workplace Challenge winners gather after being recognized by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Board of County Commissioners at the November 15 meeting.

On November 15, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) recognized winners of the Central Florida Workplace Challenge, a friendly competition that showcases local businesses that make their work environment greener and an easier place to be healthy. 

The 2016 Central Florida Workplace Challenge asked organizations to look at how they do business, and document ways that they incorporate environmentally responsible, employee-friendly or community service activities in their day-to-day work. 

"In addition to being economic drivers, our workplaces are critical in shaping our quality of life and impacting our community in positive ways," Mayor Jacobs said at the launch of the challenge during the 2016 Economic Summit on January 21. "Achieving a more diverse, resilient and thriving economy, while protecting and enhancing our environmental and cultural legacy, requires businesses to be leaders of change." 

The Challenge was organized by Green Destination Orlando with support from the City of Orlando, the City of Winter Park and Orange County Government. The Challenge ended on June 30. 

In August, all of the participants were recognized, and a few received awards based on the number of points they scored during the challenge. During the event, several businesses spontaneously stood up, one by one, and shared stories of how competing in the challenge benefitted their workplace. In total, 15 awards were given to recognize Green, Healthy and Involved workplaces that serve as shining examples to our community. 

Winners included First Green Bank Winter Park, Goodwill Industries, St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, UF IFAS Extension Service - Orange County, GreenBuilt Solutions, Heart of Florida United Way, Faiella and Gulden, P.A., City of Winter Park, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, TLC Engineering and Architecture, ecoPreserve, Orange County Government Human Resources, Orlando Utilities Commission and Orange County Environmental Protection Division.

For details on this story, visit Orange County's online Newsroom.

News Worth Noting...

- Equality Florida Greater Orlando and the Central Florida community paid tribute to those whose compassion, courage and leadership united the region in the aftermath of the Pulse Orlando nightclub tragedy on June 12. Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer were recognized with the Service and Leadership Award at the 9th Annual Equality Florida Greater Orlando Gala held at the Orlando Museum of Art. The theme of the gala was Honor Them with Action.

- In November, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra's new Executive Director Chris Barton and OPO Board Member Candy Crawford joined Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs for a meet and greet and to discuss what's next for the orchestra.

- Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs was honored to meet with Orlando Ballet's new Executive Director Caroline Miller and Chair of the Orlando Ballet Board Sibille Pritchard to discuss exciting new developments for the ballet.

- The International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its Annual Meeting Luncheon on November 11 at the Orange County Convention Center. During the luncheon, Mayor Jacobs was presented with an Award of Excellence for her leadership and dedication to the success of the Convention Center District and I-Drive Corridor. The I-Drive Chamber of Commerce celebrated its many successes with a special tribute video to its stakeholders and supporters.

- The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) celebrated the completion of its Center-to-Table Gardens located inside the OCCC's Westwood Lobby. The 2,000-square-foot structure has the ability to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers on Convention Center property in an all-natural, chemical-free environment. In the most recent harvest, a total of 783 plants were ready to be used as ingredients for meals prepared by Centerplate, OCCC's exclusive food service partner.

- The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) kicked off its 2016 Attractions Expo on November 15 at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). IAAPA, the largest trade association for the $39 billion worldwide attractions industry, announced in September that it would relocate its global headquarters to Orange County. IAAPA also announced that it would host its annual conference and trade show, IAAPA Attractions Expo, in Orlando at the OCCC through 2030.

- Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs joined the University of Central Florida (UCF) to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the UCF College of Medicine. Founded in 2006 by the Florida Board of Governors, the Florida Legislature and Governor of Florida, the UCF College of Medicine focuses on increasing opportunities for medical education in Florida, addressing the state's physician shortage and enhancing Central Florida's economy.

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Mayor Teresa Jacobs
201 S. Rosalind Ave.
Orlando, FL 32801