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100% Complicated

Former Window SolutionsNeed Work
Closed "windowsolutions" store"Need Work"

What's interesting about photography (and reporting in general) is how easy it is to spin a story any which way you care to by selectively reporting only on certain facts. In this case, I can take the two photos above, from the mall across the street from Waterford Lakes, and write about how Orlando's economy is still falling apart. The closed store is certainly real enough, as is the unemployed guy standing next to all his possessions. But that doesn't consider other activity in the area...

Finally Closed for GoodMichael's
Closes as a Circuit City (March 2009)......reopens as a Michaels (March 2011)

Such as the fact that the former Circuit City, which is in the same mall, and closed in March 2009, has reopened as a Micheals two years later.

Former Uno's on UniversityNow Hiring
Closes as an Unos (April 2010)......reopens as an Azteca (March 2011)

Or how an Uno's on University has reopened as an Azteca Mexican restaurant, and is advertising for new employees.

The real meat of the story is in the details.
  • Orlando's unemployment hit 12% in December 2010, only to drop to a mere 9% for March. Unfortunately it's fated to hit double digits again due to local and state government layoffs which are in turn due to budget shortfalls due to the poor economy, and the pressure of $3.50/gallon gas that is rapidly approaching $4/gallon and beyond, which will in turn pressure folks to cut back to save money, causing sales to fall, with businesses on the razors edge beginning to lay off their employees and possibly shutting down... Such a "virtuous cycle"...
  • It took two years to convert that Circuit City store into a Michaels. That means there was no employer there for two years. Furthermore, \the two are radically different stores. Circuit City was a 'hard' store selling electronics that hit $100s of dollars/item (or thousands for those who were building systems from multiple components). Michaels, on the other hand, is an arts and crafts store which sells items a full magnitude lower in price. Michaels isn't the same "engine of commerce" for the area that Circuit City was.
  • The Uno's-to-Azteca story has been repeated all up and down University with over half of the stores on that road changing ownership since 2008. And one restaurant, a former Don Pablo's, has gone through two owners since shutting down in 2009 and is now shuttered again.

100% Approval

The story about Orlando's economy is that it's still fragile, and there are still a lot of people out of  a job, with many more to follow. Where the economy is coming back, it's coming back weaker; the empty store fronts are slowly filling back up again, but with businesses that aren't as profitable to the local community as the businesses they replace. It takes little effort to drive around the Orlando area to still find one empty monument after another to the ongoing economic collapse. Yes, we will eventually overcome this. But it will take decades to accomplish. If I'm lucky I might live long enough to actually see it happen.

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