State of Downtown Orlando: Mayor doubles down on metaverse – The Business Journals

Buddy Dyer did something new with his State of Downtown address.
The Orlando Mayor during his Dec. 7 address at Luminary Green Park within downtown’s Creative Village hosted what he said was the first address by a mayor in the metaverse. With the help of the Orlando Economic Partnership, The Metaverse Construction Co., the Central Florida Chapter of the VR/AR Association, 302 Interactive and Engage, the mayor simulcast his live annual address alongside a virtual avatar in a virtual world.
Why this matters: Emerging technology pays high-wage jobs. Regional updates provide insight into what business activity lies ahead.
Dyer called the City Beautiful the “MetaCenter of the Metaverse” with companies — including nearby Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: EA), which designed a separate “digital twin” of the mayor, and Unity Software Inc. (NYSE: U) — helping to build that environment.
Dyer also added he wants to build upon the companies here that are in the tech sector, claiming there are more than 2,500 tech jobs available in Orlando. Part of that strategy will be luring and retaining those workers including graduates from the University of Central Florida and other regional colleges.
“Keeping people here and bringing people here is a big part of our economic strategy because if the talent is here, then the companies are going to come here,” Dyer said after the address in a press conference.
The drive to continue momentum in the sector comes as some experts see Orlando as a place with an existing strong foundation.
Cathy Hackl, the leader for metaverse consultancy Futures Intelligence Group, previously told Orlando Business Journal that Orlando is in a good place to draw talent because local universities like the University of Central Florida and Full Sail University are providing training in the necessary areas for metaverse technology.
“There’s going to be an even bigger talent war, and places like Orlando that already are training that talent today are going to benefit,” Hackl said. “Companies are going to want to recruit more there, [and] startups might set up shop there … because there’s easy access to talent. “
Meanwhile, Dyer highlighted other efforts to help bring workers and other residents downtown in the future including:
The mayor also sees potential in development of the 68-acre Creative Village, which is nearing more than $2 billion in public and private investment. The next phase includes a 26-story, 326-unit apartment high-rise, a 12-story, 185,000-square-foot multi-tenant office building and a 10-story, 180-room hotel.
In addition, Dyer said as part of future planning, the city will study new uses for the Bob Carr Theater and likely will settle on a function within the next year.
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