ORLANDO, FL — Arnold Palmer took time this week to talk to members of the Orlando Economic Development Committee’s Board and Investor Councils about what is most important to him. On the list: golf, family, helping children and economic development.
The legendary golfer, who was among the first in the world to transform his sport success into a business empire, addressed this group of EDC supporters from a room in the Lodge that he built, overlooking the Bay Hill Golf Course that he recently renovated into what he suggests is among "the best anywhere." Among many topics, Mr. Palmer spoke about his personal satisfaction at seeing the region’s recent growth as a center for the medical research and life science industries.
Arnold Palmer's connection to Central Florida dates back to the 1960s. First coming to Orlando for a tournament in 1962, he saw potential in the region that led him to buy out other investors in the then fledgling Bay Hill Club in 1969. The PGA TOUR event played at Bay Hill annually that bears his name, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, has grown from humble beginnings to an event which today accounts for 165 full time jobs; more than $5 million in annual earnings, which translates in to $18.5 total spending; and attracts more than 100,000 attendees each year. Plus, proceeds benefit Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation, the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.
Mr. Palmer's commitment to the EDC goes even further. He personally invests in our organization through the membership of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by MasterCard. One of his goals for addressing this group, which was reinforced by EDC Board Chair Meg Crofton, was to encourage more local businesses to support the work of the Economic Development Commission.