While Orlando is still largely known around the globe for itstheme parks, Dyer points out that it is also gaining recognition asa center for medical research and the creative arts. Downtown isquickly becoming a place to live as well as work, and is attractingshopping and other amenities.

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Dyer, now in his second full term as mayor, discussed currentand future changes to Orlando with GlobeSt.com:

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GlobeSt.com: How is Orlando's image changing fromtheme-park central?

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Dyer: If you look at a lot of the national and eveninternational magazines and studies, we show remarkably well interms of entrepreneurship, small businesses and high tech. FastCompany rated us one of the best cities for innovation, taking noteof our interactive gaming activities and our new medical complex atLake Nona.

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GlobeSt.com: A few new office and condo towers have beenadded to the city's skyline over the years. Is Downtown Orlandochanging that much?

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Dyer: Downtown remains the economic hub of CentralFlorida. Certainly entertainment is more spread out than it oncewas, with all the theme parks and activities we have, but in termsof our residents, Downtown remains the place they want to bringtheir families. Lake Eola is our crown jewel that we have worked onimproving.

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Now we have all facets of activity in our Downtown area. We havesome really cool stuff including the House of Moves, which is themost sophisticated motion capture studio east of the MississippiRiver. The University of Central Florida has a couple of differentcampuses Downtown, the Interactive Entertainment Activity and theExecutive Development Center, where you can take graduate-levelbusiness courses.

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We spurred some of this with incentives four or five years agoaimed primarily at the residential markets. We like to talk aboutpartnerships. Just about everything we've done has not been simplyguided by the city but has been in partnership with the county, UCFand our business partners.

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GlobeSt.com: How much of a boost is the Burnham Institutefor Medical Research to the city?

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Dyer: It's huge. We believe we have something nowhereelse in America has. Not only do we have the Burnham Institute, butUCF has a new medical school that has already broken ground and alife sciences campus. We think we will be one of those medicaldestinations, like Houston, Rochester or Birmingham.

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GlobeSt.com: How important is Downtown revitalizationcompared with other parts of Orlando?

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Dyer: We focus on our neighborhoods in a different way inproviding services such as public safety, garbage collection andthe normal things a city provides. But in terms of buildinginfrastructure it's been more Downtown. We have a CRA that coversDowntown and gives us access to funding in terms of catalyticprojects.

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We're very pleased with the redevelopment of our city. I getcomments virtually every day from somebody saying how proud theyare of our Downtown. It is a source of pride for our community tobe able to come into Downtown and see the growth andprosperity.

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