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Foundations for the Future

Central Florida’s industry is projected to have a prosperous and stimulating 2018…

The New Year is upon us once again and along with it comes the familiar promise of hope, prosperity, and if we’re being honest, a few obstacles and some hard work, too. The turn of the calendar year is an opportunity to reflect on some of the events of the past 12 months, and to look to the future with excitement and determination.

In anticipation of these abundant chances for new growth and advancement, we spoke to esteemed professionals and officials to get their take on what to expect in 2018. We’re proud to say that there are many exciting plans and initiatives that are projected for the next year, and we’re ready to share the most interesting and informative of our findings.

Banking and Economy
Overall, the banking industry is in good shape for the first time in many years, and is expected to maintain this stable condition for the new year. According to Chad Loar, regional president of PNC Bank, the immediate future of banking is a bustling one.

“It’s an exciting time in banking right now because of the changing needs and wants of our clients,” says Loar. “Retail banking is less about where you go and more about what you want to do.”

The banking industry is in the throes of a transformation and the system that worked for many years for customers no longer falls in line with the desires of a continuously developing clientele. This revolution is a notable one, because it marks a fundamental shift in a common societal need. This exciting time, paired with an equally busy economy, is paving the way for a transformative and successful year.

“As the economy in this region is operating at full throttle, job growth in Central Florida should continue to be robust in 2018,” he says. “Rising disposable income nationwide and the state’s deep international ties should boost local tourism and growth potential. Strong in-migration, new businesses relocating from Puerto Rico and the healing housing market most likely will support home construction and aide in residential price appreciation.”

Florida Division CEO of SunTrust, Scott Cathcart, echoes these sentiments in his analysis too, and credits the growth of a multitude of different industries as the primary source for banking being so well positioned this year.

“From tourism, to agriculture, to international trade and the Space Coast, Florida’s economy remains in a strong position relative to other states,” says Cathcart. “Middle Market (banking) companies based in Florida, those with $10 million to $1 billion in revenue, are a strong contributor to that growth,” he says.

Todd Bryant, partner and financial advisor of Signature Wealth Advisors suggests a similar upward trend and he contributes overall population increase as one of the biggest factors.

“[The upcoming year] will be an exciting year to be a financial advisor in Central Florida,” says Bryant. “With the tremendous growth throughout our region, there are more and more families and retirees moving into our area every day.”

This explosive, multi-level growth along with evolving demands of customers and increases in transactions has created a need for banks to address an entirely new monster: technology.

“The banking industry has the potential to go from entirely physical to entirely digital, and it’s getting there slowly but surely,” notes Loar. “Banks still have to serve clients who want to go to traditional branches, but we also need to serve clients who never want to visit a branch at all.”

With the massive population of millennials and their increasing involvement in the workforce, it’s especially important to look at the capability of machines and other products to improve on speed and efficiency.

One more newly anticipated area of attention is the tax-related legislature that is slated to go into widespread effect within the year.

“Two specific questions that our clients will be having in early 2018 will be about the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule and Tax Reform,” remarks Bryant.

“With the pending Fiduciary Rule, it is more important than ever for families to make sure that their advisor is a fiduciary and works in their best interest. Tax reform will impact all of us to some degree, and there will be many questions to address as we start the year.”

These laws are still extremely novel, so it remains difficult for companies to pinpoint just how much and to what extent everyone will be affected. However, Bryant is precise in his prediction on two areas; he anticipates that small and medium sized businesses will see a number of advantages as a result of the tax reform and, adversely, that student loan rates will continue to inflate at an aggressive rate.

With these new legislatures and steadily increasing technological roles, the need for strict cyber- security has never been greater.

“Orlando is more at risk than ever of identity theft,” says Loar. “PNC’s cyber security team tells me that personally identifiable information, including Social Security numbers, birthdates and drivers’ license numbers are now widely available on the internet or black market thanks to a series of wellpublicized security breaches. So, modern times call for modern New Year’s resolutions, and cyber security should definitely be a New Year’s resolution contender this year.”

Government and Business
The new year is projected to be full of important developments in Central Florida, as both Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs have strong plans to mature and advance new opportunities in the coming months.

One crucial area is that of business affairs, and Mayor Dyer shares the tactics that are in place to help sustain existing companies and promote the growth of new ones.

“To continue Orlando’s reputation as a great place for business, the city has a number of programs to support businesses large and small, from headquarter relocation and expansion to improving storefront facades and removing financial barriers for small, locally owned businesses to open and grow,” says Dyer.

The coming year will see the construction of Creative Village, a secondary education complex that will reinvigorate the landscape and provide housing to more students, and the building of Central Florida’s very first mixed-use office complex.

“We are excited about the new Church Street Tower development going up at the corner of South Street and Garland Avenue,” he says. “This represents the first downtown mixed-use office tower to be built in nearly a decade—this is important because there is currently a lack of Class- A office space inventory in downtown and throughout the Central Florida region. Adding to our office inventory could allow us to bring new larger, headquarter-type companies that need larger spaces for offices, creating more jobs and boosting the local economy.”

In addition to these developments, Dyer will continue to support the growth of technology start-ups and foster a prominent space for native, community-based businesses with the city-backed Main Street Program, a commercial corridor district of shops, restaurants and services that contribute in creating a locally focused space.

“I often hear from residents how our ‘Main Streets’ help them develop a greater sense of pride in and connectedness to our community,” he notes. “Each district is unique and authentic in its own way and they’re such fantastic places to spend your time that you probably wouldn’t realize our Main Streets are also economic engines, creating new jobs and opportunities for Orlando’s residents.”

Furthermore, Dyer plans to continue his focus on the investment and further revitalization of neighborhoods. Last year brought about a new fire station, police station, two city parks and a new fitness trail. Looking forward, new plans include an Orlando Bicycle beltway, Orlando Tennis Centre, two new neighborhood centers in Rosemont and Dover Shores, the cleaning of Lake Notasulga, a new dog wash at Constitution Green and more green zones in downtown Orlando.

What’s more—Mayor Dyer aims to keep the downward trend in crime and violent activity going with the expansion of law enforcement staff, and plans to secure grants for additional bicycles for the urban team.

“Residential burglaries are down nearly 14 percent, violent crime is down almost 18 percent and robberies of our businesses are down 76 percent; a result of the work of our specialized units to remove illegal guns from our community,” he says.

In order to keep these numbers headed in the right direction, Dyer will also oversee the implementation of new technology for police officers.

“To keep our officers safe and show transparency and accountability to our residents, we’re equipping every patrol officer with a body camera,” says Dyer.

Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs wants to maintain the forward momentum in business support as well, and she aims to build off of the successes in recent years to accomplish this.

For the second year in a row, Central Florida ranked No. 1 in the nation for job growth among large regions,” says Jacobs. “Forbes ranked Orlando as one of the nation’s Best Cities to Buy Housing, third for Best Big Cities for Jobs and one of the 10 Cities that Americans Are Moving to Right Now in 2017.”

These rankings are encouraging ones, and Jacobs knows that keeping Orlando at this ideal position will only be achieved through the same type of business fostering that Dyer works toward.

“Within the business community, the Orlando Economic Development Commission and the Central Florida Partnership recently merged to become the Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP),” she says. “Orange County works closely with the OEP to attract and retain business in our community and to market the region as a great placed to live, work and raise a family.”

Organizations like the National Entrepreneur Center, the Black Business Investment Fund, Prospera, GrowFL and many others allow for business owners and entrepreneurs to receive training and other free support at little or no cost.

Moreover, Jacobs hopes to continue to maintain Orlando’s exciting spot as the travel and tourism destination of the state and the nation.

“We maintained our status as the No. 1 tourist and family entertainment destination in the United States and continue to set visitor records each year—68 million in 2016,” she notes.

Jacobs credits this steadily increasing uptick in visitors to strategic renovation of the renowned Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, additional construction at the Amway Center and renovation of the Camping World Stadium. In keeping these locations at their prime, Jacobs has helped pave the way for the famed Orlando City Soccer Club.

“These venues have made our area an international destination for major entertainment and sporting events, including 2017’s Wrestlemania and the family-friendly NFL Pro Bowl,” she says. “Our premier status as a family, business, entertainment and sports mecca has also resulted in historic private sector achievements, including the establishment of the USTA National Tennis Campus and the opening of the Orlando City Soccer Club MLS Stadium.”

In 2018, Jacobs also plans to continue with her “Orlando. You don’t know the half of it” branding campaign for the region, a program that acknowledges the existence of all diverse industries in the area in an effort to foster more collaboration among businesses and promote a thriving community.

“Not only are we focused on attracting higher- paying jobs—both to promote long-term economic stability and also to help our families achieve economic stability—we’re unwavering in our commitment to raising the bar on ethics, accountability and transparency,” says Jacobs.

“By ensuring strict fiscal discipline, we’re able to ensure outstanding assets for our children and families—without raising taxes. In short, we’re creating a healthy, sustainable community—not just for today, but for our children and their grandchildren in which to live, work and raise their families.”

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