Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’s entrance and exit were met with the same thing: a standing ovation and roaring applause.
Jacobs delivered her final State of the County Address Friday, May 18, at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Those in attendance included local leaders from several Orange County municipalities as well as individuals representing the hospitality and tourism industries. Attendees joined Jacobs as she discussed the healthy state of the county and the triumphs and challenges she faced throughout her years of service as mayor.
“I am proud to announce that the state of Orange County is — in fact — very strong,” Jacobs said. “I took office during the heels of the great recession during which we lost approximately $150 million in annual revenue. … Thanks to years of dedicated efforts, today our bond and credit ratings are routinely rated Triple A. That says to the whole world that we’re exemplary (stewards) of your tax dollars.”
Jacobs said 149,660 new jobs were created in Orange County since she took office in 2011. She added unemployment fell from 10.7% to 3.2% between January 2011 and March 2018.
“Today, we are busting at the seams,” she said. “Our tourism and hospitality sectors are stronger than ever, generating $70 billion of economic impact annually, and supporting one in three jobs and welcoming more than 72 million visitors just last year.”
The housing market experienced explosive growth, as well.
“We worked tirelessly to nurture an environment that supports innovation and creativity not only in how we operate as a government but (also) in the communities that we’re creating in the future,” Jacobs said. “Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in communities like Horizon West.”
In addition to discussing the economic growth of the county, Jacobs said the county should focus on improving credit and managing funds wisely.
“Although we are obviously experiencing an era of economic prosperity — including job and wage growth — to me, it’s critical that we view our economy holistically,” she said. “Knowing that economies do experience volatility, it is important that we focus so intently on boosting our fiscal management practices and improving our credit worthiness.”
In terms of challenges, Jacobs recalled the Pulse shooting and the deaths of law enforcement officers from surrounding municipalities, including Windermere Police Officer Robert German. Moments of silence were held during the address to remember those who died.
“Our hearts were broken when Windermere Police Officer Robbie German was senselessly gunned down by two suicidal teens,” she said.
Jacobs ended the address with a reflection of her mayoral career.
“In reflecting on this amazing era of recovery, discovery and transformation; an era of tragedy and triumph, of unity and resilience, I believe we have become the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Jacobs said. “Working with each of you ... has truly been the honor and privilege of a lifetime.”