Orange City, Florida
A community for all ages
Business View Magazine interviews representatives of Orange City, Florida for our focus on Economic Development in U.S. Counties & Cities
Orange City is one of those truly unique places that has managed to hold on to its small town community feel, while still harnessing its ability to forge ahead into the future of technology, infrastructure, business, and more.
Mayor of Orange City, Gary Blair, declares, “It’s a town that’s maintained caring community members, but is always looking forward. Orange City still has a very rural feel to it, yet it’s the commercial hub of Southwest Volusia County and we’re very progressive. We’re constantly working on our infrastructure and there are a lot of new developments in the works. We have beautiful parks… it’s just a great little town. That’s why a lot of people come and want to live here.”
Orange City may be comfortably charming but the administration doesn’t sit back and rest on its laurels, especially when it comes to tackling issues like supply and demand of single family homes, apartments, and condos to attract newcomers and families. The municipality is also dedicated to fulfilling its commitment and obligation to current residents and they take suggestions from constituents very seriously.
Dale Arrington, City Manager, points out that the people who currently live in Orange City are very invested in preserving the positive aspects of the city from the past and present and building for the future. She reports, “We communicate with our citizens all the time. They offer all sorts of ideas and suggestions. Volunteerism is high, particularly in our parks and events, and I think it’s those items that pull us all together; that make Orange City such a great place to be. It’s our historical nature, our small town feel, and our park system that intertwines with regional parks and state parks… we’re just very blessed here.”
Orange City is currently designing an extension to a popular bike trail, the Spring to Spring Bike Trail which connects Blue Spring State Park to Gemini Springs on the south end and DeLeon Springs State park to the north. They’ve also just won an award for Mill Lake Park from the Florida Planning and Zoning Association naming it one of the greatest places in Florida.
The population of Orange City sits at just under 13,000 and a large percentage is over the age of 65, which includes nearly 1,000 seniors who live at the John Knox Village Complex. The median age of the Complex’s residents is about 85 and it offers varying degrees of assistance and care.
Most of the city’s businesses, outside of retail, cater to the medical sector. The largest employers are the Orange City Area Health System, medical offices, and the Volusia County School District. Arrington boasts, “The town is a true hub for the county, our residents may be a little bit older, but we have some regional schools here, as well. Even though we’re a very small city, we’re home to University High School, River Spring Middle School, and two elementary schools. So during the daytime, our population grows by another 30 percent just because of the schools that are located here. That’s a very affirming way for our city to focus.” In conjunction with the school board, Mayor Blair has also worked to incorporate youth into the city’s government by creating a youth advisory council.
Orange City runs events that draw people from all over Volusia County – of particular interest are the Halloween Block Party, National Night Out, Homecoming Parade, Light Up Orange City, a Christmas Parade, as well as movies in the park events, food truck events, and so much more. Danielle Fitzpatrick, Public Information Coordinator for the city says, “There’s a true sense of community in our city which is amplified through our events.”
The Planning and Development department works hard with existing companies to help them grow and expand within the town and to continue to thrive. Arrington says that’s one of the reasons businesses like the city so much. She explains, “Businesses want to be here for the same reasons that residents like to be here, with a couple of added twists. One is, if they are trying to come into the city or expand in the city there’s a personal touch that is involved through our Development Services department. People can come in and talk to real people, and know that we are going to listen to what their concerns are and help them succeed. That’s a primary goal of our Development Services department.”
But, Orange City hasn’t maintained that culture of community involvement and camaraderie by letting every company set up shop. Arrington says, “Instead, we’ve really focused our businesses on retail and medical and those items that are associated with our elderly populations. We have quite a number of doctors offices. We are trying to expand with those people who like to come to our area because of our reputation, and the fact that we have an AdventHealth Hospital here, as well as several assisted living facilities.”
Becky Mendez, Development Services Director, shares, “I think the demographics are going to change in the next few years because we’ve issued more building permits this year than any other year since the city was incorporated in 1882. In 2015, we issued just two building permits for single family dwellings, but last year we issued 200 for single family homes and 400 multi-family units, and we have hundreds of more units in various stages of development review. As we continue to issue building permits for workforce housing apartments, I think that we’ll start to see that age demographic lower with more families moving into the city.” One prime example of a significant new housing project is the $80 million West Volusia Crossings Apartments, being spearheaded by Trycon Development.
When it comes to technology, Arrington admits, “Even our staff are pushing themselves into the 21st century thanks to a complete redesign and upgrade of our computer systems through Tyler Technology. It has been terrific. I don’t know what more to say, other than, we have been married to our software for a long, long time unsupported, and now we’re going gangbusters in putting in a whole new financial package, a whole new payroll package… Tyler Technology has been patient and forthcoming and very helpful with us. A whole new day is dawning.”
Orange City also continues to pay attention to its rich history by constantly improving the one-square-mile heritage downtown district with facade grants for business owners and redevelopment of water and waste water infrastructure. According to Arrington, “Most of the buildings were built before the invention of modern sewer systems and most of them run on septic tanks. As we redo roads, we also put in waster and wastewater systems, which allows business owners more freedom to diversify.”
The city is surrounded by lush natural landscapes including Blue Spring State Park, which brings more than 500,000 visitors to the region every year. Preserving the spring is a priority and upgrades to the city’s water and wastewater systems helps to keep the spring clear of contaminants. Plans are in place to repave and rebuild storm water management systems throughout the town, including the old industrial park that has a flooding issue they hope to solve in the next few months.
Looking three to five years down the road, Mayor Blair would like to see Orange City finish the Facilities Study they’ve begun because they are in great need of new fire stations and a public safety building. Arrington and Fitzpatrick would like to see additions to current bike and walking trails installed. Fitzpatrick says, “It would be a great addition to what we already have.” She also wants to see more attractions added to the bike trails and to the annual festivals.
Mendez, on the other hand, wants to see the job market diversify with new and different industries at the interchange of Highway 472 and I-4. She notes, “I would really like to see that area develop with targeted industries. We have a lot of medical uses supporting the hospital, and a lot of our new start-up businesses are medical related, which is great. But I’d also like to see some diversification in the jobs offered in Orange City… just creating that balance. I think the time is right and we’re looking forward to planning with the property owners on the best way to develop the area.”
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AT A GLANCE
Orange City, Florida
What: Charming, historic/urban city; population just under 13,000
Where: Volusia County, Florida
Traffic Engineering Data Solutions, Inc. – www.teds-fl.com
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With offices in the greater Orlando and Tampa areas and 14 PE’s with a combined 350 years of experience, we are one of the pre-eminent transportation engineering firms in central Florida. Additionally, we have seasoned leaders that previously served senior management roles at FDOT, providing TEDS extensive knowledge and understanding of FDOT processes, particularly as it pertains to funding aspects.
Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation – www.teamvolusiaedc.com
Volusia County thrives through the contributions of its three strong regions, to the East, West and Southeast. Team Volusia Economic Development Group is proud to support and represent as we help fuel our ever expanding location. We recognize the pride that the City of Orange City has for its balance of small town ambiance combined with all the amenities necessary for today’s fast-paced lifestyle. This vibrancy helps shine a light on the West side of the county, which includes the county seat in DeLand, our largest city of Deltona, and strong ties to the Greater Orlando area. We also celebrate the East with world renowned Daytona Beach, the Daytona International Speedway, and miles of beaches; and the Southeast, as anchored by New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater with their connection to Brevard County, and the aerospace and port industries there. Team Volusia is here to help with key items like site selection assistance, project assistance, market research, local buyer and supplier information, local resource introductions, and government relations assistance. Together, our three stellar regions put Volusia County on the map, with visitors, residents and businesses; locally, nationally and internationally. We are, Volusia.
Tyler Technologies – tylertech.com
Tyler Technologies (NYSE: TYL) provides integrated software and technology services to the public sector. With more than 37,000 installations across 12,000 client sites, Tyler’s end-to-end solutions empower local, state, and federal governments to operate more efficiently, connect more transparently, and gain actionable insights to meet the needs of their communities.