ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer on Thursday held his State of Downtown at the Amway Center.
"This is as important of the opening of Disney World."
Big changes are in store for downtown Orlando, as Mayor Dyer says the UCF/Valencia campus opens in less than nine months.
"This is an educational facility designed to open doors and eliminate barriers for everybody. It’s designed to offer opportunity not just to the typical 27-year-old student, but the entire household."
Mayor Dyer says the campus will be home to more than 20 programs..including digital media, legal studies and healthcare management..so graduates can then find work here at home.
"All of these degree tracks have a direct tie in with employers in town. This includes our hospital partners, to the Orange County Courthouse, to employers in finance and legal."
He says there’s a half a billion dollars worth of residential construction happening, creating an historic level of investment on the west side of downtown.
"Rehabilitating and preserving affordable housing units so that life long residents of Parramore can afford to stay in our neighborhood."
Not only stay in the neighborhood, but also attend classes and find new employment. Mayor Dyer says changes are happening all over the city.
"Across those railroad tracks at historic Church Street Depot, there’s a plan to bring brand name retail options that haven’t been to downtown before."
The mayor says Orlando continues to be a premier sports and entertainment destination, with major events like the NFL Pro Bowl. He’s working on more, by bidding on the World Cup games.
"Maybe with the NFL playing more neutral site games, we can secure an annual Bucs game in Orlando."
To improve the homeless situation, Mayor Dyer says Give Smart Orlando allows people to donate to the homeless, buy texting 8-5-5-1.
They also relaunched the Downtown Ambassador program, where ambassadors have provided more than 800 safety escorts.
"Our ambassadors are working everyday to connect vulnerable individuals to critical social services and curb aggressive panhandling."
There are more than 16,000 residents living here in downtown.