Below is an excerpt of an Orlando Business Journal article written by by Bonita Tillman.
The Orlando and Central Florida region is on an upward trajectory, according to insights from economic experts who took part in the 2022 Orlando Economic Outlook meeting at the Orlando Science Center Jan. 7.
“We’re in the best place in the country, especially because of the larger trends we’ve experienced,” said Andrew Wright, CEO and founder of Franklin Street Commercial Real Estate Services. “But the key is that you must get involved – take a risk, start a business. It’s happening right in front of you.”
Donna Dyson, president and publisher of the Orlando Business Journal, moderated the event, which also included Eric Winograd, director of Developed Market Economic Research at Bernstein Private Wealth Management; and Jeffrey Korzenik, chief investment strategist at Fifth Third Bank.
The discussion, sponsored by Bernstein, Fifth Third and Franklin Street, focused on local population, housing and business trends and how national and regional changes are impacting overall growth in Central Florida.
Wright cited increasing population growth, positive changes in retail and industrial space, asking rents and the size of the economy as indicators of success for the region.
“What’s going on in Central Florida is unprecedented with population growth,” he said. “More than 400,000 people have moved to Florida in the last 12 months, making it the sixth-fastest-growing state in the country.”
Most of the transplants are taking up residence along the I-4 corridor in the southern part of the state (Polk and Osceola counties) because more land is available there, he added.
Southeast Florida is not growing as rapidly, and Miami is losing population because it’s more densely populated, Wright said, and the cost of living there is not as affordable as it once was.
“Income has not kept pace with the rising costs, so people there are also moving to the I-4 corridor in large numbers,” he said. Orlando is leading the population growth and Jacksonville is not far behind.
Wright said real estate is one of the top performing opportunity areas with mid 20% growth. Retail space is doing better than he thought it would despite the challenge from online shopping, and he believes employees will eventually want to return to the office, increasing the need for more office space. Asking rents have crossed the national average in central Florida and developers can’t build apartments fast enough to keep up with the population growth, he said.
When people often ask him if they should buy a house now or wait to gauge the economy, he advises them to “get in the game” because holding real estate is one of the best ways to protect yourself as inflation rises.
Wright closed the session with a positive prediction for investors. “It’s raining gold in central Florida, and I hope you guys get your buckets out.”