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The Development and Growth of Southwest Orange County

The landscape of Southwest Orange County has changed tremendously over the past many decades, from a citrus community led by Dr. Phillip Phillips, his land sale to Minute Maid in the 1950s and on to the diverse industries we have today. The change was initiated by Martin Marietta, a defense contractor that is now Lockheed Martin. Yet, the greatest influence in our community is attributed to the arrival of a very famous mouse and magician, Mickey, and his home Walt Disney World in 1971. This new industry of entertainment has continued to grow in Southwest Orange County with the addition of SeaWorld, Universal Orlando and the subsequent arrival of another magician, Harry Potter.

All of these influencers created a tremendous demand for talent to fill the growing job market. In addition to the area’s strong job demand, people were also attracted to this community for its many admirable assets, both natural and man-made. These qualities included the pristine lakes, golf courses, numerous parks and award-winning schools. As the community grew and landscape continued to change, so did the list of qualities, including world-class health care and a growing transportation network.

Just as the landscape of our community changed, so did our business needs, which led to the West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) forming in 1972. This was a direct result of understanding the impact and needs of what would become our largest employer, Walt Disney World (WDW). Just as we worked on issues to assist WDW decades ago, the WOCC has continued to work on issues that maintain the assets we have all grown to love about our community while also enabling growth that will be sustained well into the future.

We have worked on issues that impact our community’s identity and protect against the expansion of gambling. We have rallied against employer mandates that singled out and would have put Orange County at an economic disadvantage. We have facilitated the creation of a “doggie dining” ordinance for all of Orange County, which is inclusive of Dr. Phillips and Horizon West.

Southwest Orange County’s newest community, Horizon West, is experiencing considerable growth with more than 53 percent of residential permits pulled in 2018 in all of Orange County. As this community grows, the WOCC is working on several initiatives, including road expansions, the Regional Park and economic development to bring high-wage employers to the area. This month, the WOCC is working with Commissioner VanderLey, Boyd Development and the Orlando Economic Partnership to make certain that the assets of this community are well-known to site selectors for corporate relocation and local business growth.

As the area continues to develop, so will our business community with the support of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce.

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Written by Stina D'Uva

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