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The Death - and Life - of Small Downtown America

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A good article in The Atlantic Cities reviewing how downtowns across America died and how to save them. I thought about Winter Garden on this, where they have actually had such discussions and are really thinking out of the box to reinvent what put the town on the map in the first place and how, organically, they can use some of those same ideas to bring it back (it's already working for them). A lot of that activity began because of west Orange County citrus pioneers Bert Roper and Jerry Chicone, Jr.

Thinking about parallels for downtown Orlando, I think it heightens the importance of saving ourselves, not expecting out of town firms to do it. Much of the success of Orlando prior to 1965 was due to the efforts of two local firms, the First National Bank at Orlando (which sold its birthright in the 1980's and eventually became Atlanta-based SunTrust) and the Orlando Sentinel (which was sold to Chicago-based Tribune Co. after the retirement of publisher Martin Andersen). Which local firms today have the ability to invest in downtown and make sure all the pieces come together once again to ensure success?

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Electronic Arts


Valencia College (a larger downtown presence)

UCF (a larger downtown presence)

The Hospitals (already a big factor in SunRail)

Rich DeVos

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