- Orlando, FL is accepting applications for grants from a $65,000 fund for organizations to work on tech-focused events, with a focus on building private investments and increasing collaboration between startups and existing technology firms.
- The city will offer grants of up to $10,000, with the total funding matched by the recipients. Successful applicants will be chosen by a panel of local business officials and a representative of the city.
- "As part of the city’s economic development strategy, we continue to focus on growing and nurturing a strong tech and entrepreneurial community in Orlando," said Mayor Buddy Dyer in a statement.
Although Orlando is not thought of as a traditional tech hub, a 2017 analysis by the jobs site ZipRecruiter listed Orlando as one of the fastest growing cities for tech jobs, with year-over-year growth in the industry of nearly 150%. The city has made fostering the tech industry a priority in recent years, as it tries to move beyond an economy reliant on tourism. The Orlando Sentinel notes that the growth has been helped by the University of Central Florida (UCF) feeding the market.
ZipRecruiter’s tech hub list also included non-coastal cities like Hunstville, AL; Phoenix and Albany, NY, a sign that the industry is growing in areas away from California and New York (of course, high growth is easier in cities starting with a lower tech base). Orlando’s grant program is meant to foster the industry and integrate startups with large existing companies in the region, creating a more cohesive community. Initiatives like that could help other cities trying to expand the tech market.
The growing tech industry will also likely help Orlando as it tries to become a hub for autonomous vehicle development. Orlando was named an automated vehicle proving ground site by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the city has tried to use its partnership with UCF to showcase innovative transportation ideas, which could find more life in a robust tech industry.