Editor's note: We've been taking a virtual tour of U.S. cities to see how the 2008 financial crisis changed the entrepreneurial landscape, for better or worse. See other installments here.
The Orlando area may be best known for mouse ears, sorcerer wands and shuttle launches. Look elsewhere – downtown, on university campuses and at incubators throughout the metro area – and you'll find startups working on everything from healthy school lunches to hybrid geothermal systems.
The financial crisis hit Orlando particularly hard. (Read more at "Orlando Entrepreneurs Say Magic is Returning"). The housing collapse, combined with a plummet in tourism spending, drove unemployment into the double digits. It's been a long, hard recovery, say entrepreneurs, and funding is still tough to come by. On the bright side, the economy seems to have turned a corner –non-seasonally adjusted unemployment was 7.1% in February – and enthusiasm (and resources) for entrepreneurship may be stronger than ever.
Here's a look at eight Orlando ventures.