Florida is starting to break away from its retiree reputation and seeing younger families move here for the employment and education opportunities. In terms of education, K-12 students are served by three local districts with nearly 195 public options and 90 private-based choices. The University of Central Florida, which holds a reputation for its research facility, is one of the larger universities in the area. However, students also have the option of attending the more than 30 post-secondary institutions based in the region.
Economy and Job Market
For those moving here because of work, Metro Orlando's economy benefits from a world-renowned tourism industry that welcomed more than 55 million visitors in 2011. That sector alone has an economic impact of more than $28 billion and is responsible for more than 20 percent of the city's employment opportunities. Walt Disney World and Epcot Center are major parts of the city's economic stimulus and hiring but major employers also include Lockheed Martin, Darden Restaurants, Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, Electronic Arts, Siemens Energy, Mitsubishi Power Systems, Tupperware Corp., Ruth's Chris Steak House and the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The Metro Orlando region serves as the home of the Central Florida Research Park, the seventh largest research park in the United States at more than 1,025 acres. The region is also home to Medical City in Lake Nona, a life sciences cluster that officials see as having a major economic impact on the region in years to come, which is more positive news for a city that Kiplinger projects will have a job growth of 15% through 2017. Another economic accolade came from Entrepreneur magazine, which has called Orlando one of the "top 10 places to start a business."
Attractions and Points of Interest
Once the workweek is over, those living in Metro West Orlando have plenty of options when it comes to culture, sports, recreation and entertainment. Whether you're 6 or 66, finding something to do in Orlando is easy to do. In Orlando alone there are multiple theme parks, water parks and more than 100 other attractions. Plus, the region's subtropical climate enables locals to enjoy warm weather more than 300 days per year, so quiet strolls, relaxing and lounging are other popular options.
While major attractions such as Sea World, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Mall of Millennia, Discovery Cove, Gatorland, Islands of Adventure and the many spots dotting International Drive are popular with locals and visitors alike, residents have the inside track on outstanding shopping, dining and recreational activities within walking distance or a short drive from their homes.
Culture lovers will be delighted to know that Orlando has an evolving attraction of exhibits from all genres, with the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, the Mennello Museum of American Art, the Orlando Museum of Art and the Orlando City Hall Terrace Gallery among the popular options. The Orlando Science Center also is a favorite stop for all ages because of the many hands-on exhibits, and the city also has a ballet company, philharmonic orchestra and a touring Broadway series.
Options for sports fans include the NBA's Orlando Magic and the many athletic programs at the University of Central Florida.
Parks and Recreation
In addition to theme parks there are plenty of the milder and less-crowded varieties in Orlando as well. With nearly 3,000 acres of total park space, the city is among the largest 100 in the country and ranks in the top 10 based on number of recreation centers per 20,000 residents. And because of its year-round warmth, it's no surprise that Orlando also ranks in the top 10 of cities based on swimming pools per 100,000 residents.
In all, there are more than 100 parks located throughout the city in neighborhoods and by community centers. All of the parks are known for their scenery, multiple exercise options, bike paths, open spaces, picnic areas and playgrounds.
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