2023 State of the Orange County Address: Taking It To The Next Level

Dear Community Leader,

This has been a year of significant achievements in Orange County, with record-breaking tourism numbers and strong economic growth. We had our share of triumphs and hardships, but most importantly, as a community, we worked together to face the unknown and are stronger because of it.

During my recent State of the County address, I highlighted how we’re taking Orange County to the next level in every possible way. We’re known as a community that embraces strong, collaborative regional partnerships and for building a community that works for everyone. It’s because of this synergy we’re able to confront challenges head on and continue to move forward as we strive to create the highest quality of life for all residents.

Affordable housing represents one of the challenges we face both locally and as a nation. In response, we’ve aggressively addressed individuals and families at risk of being evicted through the Federal American Rescue Plan Act funding. To date, $40 million has kept more than 15,000 individuals in their homes through Orange County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Additionally, we opened only the second Office of Tenant Services provided by a local Florida government. It has already assisted 1,100 tenants and landlords.

Our community partners have also stepped up to increase affordable and workforce housing for our residents. Since 2019, more than 2,000 affordable housing units have been built or are under development. Growth is a big factor in this equation, as Orange County now exceeds 1.5 million residents, with more than a 25 percent growth in population over the last 10 years. We will continue to review this issue as we grow.

Public Safety is one of the core functions of local government and is the responsibility of over half of our county workforce. The Citizens Safety Task Force has been reconvened and is charged with finding solutions to reduce and prevent gun violence and violent crime. Commissioners approved $2 million to launch and enhance prevention and intervention initiatives for non-profit organizations, many of them small, grassroots agencies.

Every day we make choices that impact our environment. Nearly three decades ago, the County created the Green PLACE program to preserve, enhance and restore environmentally sensitive lands. The Board of County Commissioners has taken the Green Place program to the next level by investing $100 million to preserve an additional 23,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands by 2030.

I am also proud of the County’s record number of park openings and groundbreakings, including the new Magnolia Park Eco Education Building and breaking ground at Summerlake Park, Tabor Field Park and Dr. Phillips Little League Complex. Most recently, we opened a new skate park at Barnett Park.

Overall, Orange County invests nearly $89 million annually to provide more than 500 programs and services to youth and families countywide. The Save Our Students program with Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida and local faith leaders provides safe, fun places for young people to go on weekend nights. Last year, the program served 1,000 youth at 29 events across the County.

Community initiatives and events that showcase our broad diaspora have become an essential part of who we are. The County’s MLK Initiative held its first Juneteenth Celebration, and it encouraged youth and adults to discover books in partnership with the Orange County Library System that align with Dr. King’s principles of non-violence. Throughout the year, we hold many other observances including Women’s History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Black History Month, Caribbean American Heritage Month, Arab American Heritage Month, Ramadan Iftar, the Diwali Celebration, Pride Parade, and the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

There’s an African Proverb that says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” That’s the essence of Orange County — a connected, engaged, diverse and caring community that works together to make our county the best place to live, work and visit.

Thanks to your collaboration and leadership, the state of our county has never been better, and I will continue to work as hard as I did the first day I took office to ensure we continue to take it to even higher levels.


Jerry L. Demings
Orange County Mayor