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ORLANDO-Angel investor groups such as Banc Boston, Patricoff, Silicon Valley Bank, Military Commercial Technologies and WebVestors are slowly and steadily transforming this city’s image from a tourism mecca into a high-tech metropolitan hub that some day will rival California’s Silicon Valley and Boston’s Route 28 region. At least that’s what George L. Livingston, founder/president of Realvest Partners Inc., a full-service commercial real estate company in suburban Maitland, FL, believes.

That transformation will shape the course of all future commercial real estate activity in the area. “Orlando’s growth is trending toward a model that historian Robert Fishman calls ‘regional pluralism,’” Livingston tells GlobeSt.com. This concept describes a new, decentralized matrix of lifestyle and high-tech employment opportunities. The scenario envisions a mix of edge cities and small towns, a vital urban Downtown, diverse urban neighborhoods, a good regional airport and a rural landscape.

Characteristics of regional pluralism also include a well-perceived university and the sort of high-tech, fiber-optic communications networks prevalent in Washington, DC and northern Virginia. “As a result of the regional pluralism trend, business and office parks are increasingly included in large, planned mixed-use communities,” Livingston says.

MetroWest in southwest Orlando; neo-traditional Avalon Park in east Orlando; Magnolia Creek in south Orlando; and Walt Disney World’s town of Celebration in Osceola County are “excellent” examples of regional pluralism, the developer notes. “The trend towards regional pluralism will significantly reduce traffic congestion, as more residents find employment, shopping and leisure opportunities closer to their homes,” says Livingston, a former Army intelligence specialist with years of overseas duty.

“Orlando offer perhaps the better mix of resources,” he says. The University of Central Florida “plays a key role in luring high-tech innovators to the area, and we already enjoy a diverse concentration of telecom, software, laser, entertainment and other high-tech companies.”

A cadre of high-tech corporate and regional headquarters already are based here. Among them are Oracle Corp., Siemens, AllTel, Triton Network Systems, Fiserve, Theseus Logic, First Publish and MESH Network.Downtown provides “the vital urban core,” Livingston says. Lake Mary, the UCF area, the 33rd Street Industrial Park and adjacent developments along with the Interstate 4, high-tech corridor all offer ample employment opportunities.

Lower density developments in nearby south Volusia County; areas south of UCF; and south of Orlando International Airport all offer emerging new companies lower land costs and help them stay competitive, the developer points out. He cites the Mid-Florida Economic Development Commission’s Vision 20/20, a four-year regional initiative to identify and unify the area’s diverse resources and develop the infrastructure to attract more high-tech firms to Central Florida. The commission is raising $17.5 million with a goal of creating 18,000 additional primary, high-paying jobs and $1.35 million in new payroll expenditures here.

“Local governments, with the blueprint being developed by the commission and Vision 20/20, have an enormous opportunity to shape a thriving, vibrant community of high-paying, high-tech employment and exciting lifestyles,” Livingston tells GlobeSt.com.

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