Kissimmee is the county seat of Osceola County, located in the eastern central part of the state.
Incorporated in 1883, the city’s financial focus was on its shipyard, which was responsible for building large steamships before the expansion of railroads and The Panic of 1893 brought an end to its heyday as an economic force. The motto of Kissimmee is, “A community of neighborhoods for families.”
Nowadays, the University of Central Florida has a business incubator located in the area that is an important part of the economic engine downtown. The top employers in Kissimmee include The Walt Disney Company, the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center and the Osceola County School District.
The Walt Disney Company is also a top employer in Kissimmee, since the city is located near Lake Buena Vista/Bay Lake, home to Walt Disney World Resort.
Kissimmee is remarkable for its public parks and outdoor recreation accommodations. It boasts the Osceola Heritage Park, which features Silver Spurs Arena and the Osceola County Stadium. Kissimmee Lakefront Park is a $30 million public works project that opened in January 2015.
Downtown Kissimmee is a gathering of restaurants, shops, and historic residences around the main thoroughfare along Highway 17/Highway 92 and its three streets: Main Street, Broadway Street, and Emmett Street.
Kissimmee has a population of around 60,000, according to the recent census figures. The racial and ethnic composition was 59 percent or Latino, 26 percent White, and 10 percent African American.
As of 2010, there were just over 17,000 households in the Kissimmee metropolitan statistical area, 37 percent of which included children under the age of 18. Just under half of these 17,000 households were married couples living together while 16 percent were made up of female heads of house with no husband. Over 20 percent of households were made up of sole individuals, with about 5 percent of these individuals aged 65 or older.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,949. Per capita income for Kissimmee was $15,071. About 12 percent of families and 15 percent of the whole population lived below the poverty line, including 19 percent of those under 18 and 10 percent aged 65 or over.
Drug Use and Kissimmee
According to a Florida Medical Examiners Commission report released in August 2018, Osceola County and Orange County combined for 50 fentanyl-related deaths—nearly one fifth of the entire state’s fentanyl overdose deaths—in the first half of 2015.
Fentanyl is a very powerful opioid painkiller which is 50 times more potent than heroin. In recent years, it has become a street drug, often sold in the guise of heroin, or laced into heroin itself.
Osceola County was also cited for having one of the highest numbers of overdose deaths from morphine, as well as heroin and cocaine.
In April 2018, Osceola County commissioners green-lighted an Opioid Cost Recovery and Public Nuisance ordinance that makes claims about the impact that opioid addiction is having on communities throughout central Florida.
The measure states that the distribution and sale of prescription narcotic pain medications has created a public safety hazard and “significant” healthcare, family and social services costs, via criminal justice and rehabilitation program costs. The legislation allows Osceola County to recover damages from “the responsible party” through legal or criminal action. The ordinance is aimed squarely at the corporations that manufacture and profit from addictive opioids, as opposed to individuals who buy or sell drugs.
Osceola became the first county in Florida to file such a suit against pharmaceutical companies.
Responses to the opioid crisis are taking place at the state level of government as well. A law signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in March 2018 sets aside more than $50 million for enhanced opioid treatment, law enforcement response, and supplies of a life-saving overdose reversal drug. It is Florida’s first piece of legislation to address the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Meanwhile, the state of Florida prescribes 10 times more oxycodone pills than all other states combined, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. To put it another way, no less than 85 percent of oxy pills sold in the U.S. come from Florida.
According to 2015 figures, Osceola County has an excessive drinking prevalence of 17 percent. Excessive drinking is defined for women as eight or more drinks per week; for men it is defined as 15 or more drinks per week. Excessive drinking prevalence is defined as the percentage of adults who report excessive drinking.