Leaders want to change perception of Orlando, draw more businesses

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ORLANDO, Fla. —

Local leaders want to change the perception about Orlando, and they're looking to start a worldwide campaign to let people know the city is more than just a tourist destination.

Orlando's known around the globe for world-class attractions like Disney and Universal Studios that bring millions to central Florida every year. But in the boardroom, the Orlando name has a lot less pull, officials have learned.

 “I don't think we've done a very good job of getting that message out, telling the world what we have to offer,” said Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

When Jacobs pitched Tam Airlines for added service between Brazil and Orlando, she was stunned to hear airline executives say they'd consider adding business flights when Orlando built itself a convention center.

“Whoa,” Jacobs said. “We have a convention center. We have an awesome convention center, second largest in the country."

Not only does Orlando have a convention center, but it also houses a major airport, the nation's second largest university, a booming biomedical city at Lake Nona, and the world's headquarters of military simulations and training.

 “Getting that word out that we're more than theme parks is tough,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs led a delegation to Austin, Texas, which spent millions on a pro-business image campaign and created 123,000 new jobs. 

Orlando's brand-building effort will debut in the fall.  In part, it will take advantage of the 56 million people who visit each year.

 The Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission has heard from nearly two dozen marketing firms interested in pitching for the account.

The list will be cut to five shortly, and the target launch for the business branding campaign is this fall.