Business Florida 2012 - The Regions
Daytona Beach, Melbourne, Orlando
Amid towering office buildings, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, Lake Eola remains a peaceful respite in busy downtown Orlando. [Photo: VISIT FLORIDA]
Visitors from around the world know East Central Florida for its theme parks, NASCAR races, golf courses, water skiing and surfing. But look beyond the tourist attractions and you'll find a region rich with technological advancements — and the people who made them possible. Across these seven counties, a highly skilled workforce launches rockets, designs theme park rides and video games, builds simulators for military training, creates faster auto engines, trains surgeons in robotic techniques and seeks cures for obesity and diabetes.
The region is home to top-notch higher education, too: University of Central Florida (UCF), second-largest university in the country and recognized for its research and patent portfolio; Rollins College, offering an MBA program ranked No. 1 in Florida by Forbes magazine; Florida Institute of Technology, taking the lead in commercial spaceflight; and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, generating more pilots for major airlines than any other flight school.
|East Central Florida: At A Glance|
Demographics for the East Central region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
• Beacon College
• Bethune-Cookman University
• Brevard Community College
• Daytona State College
• Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
• Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences
• Florida Institute of Technology
• Full Sail University
• Lake-Sumter Community College
• Rollins College
• Seminole State College
• Stetson University
• University of Central Florida
• Valencia College
Who Lives Here
Multiplicity: One in six residents of East Central Florida was born outside the U.S., an advantage for employers competing in global commerce. The Hispanic population continues to grow, most notably in Osceola County, where people with Latin origins numbered 42% in 2010, compared with 24% in metro Orlando.
Engineers: Brevard County, ground zero for Florida's space industry, counts 48 engineers per 1,000 residents, more than in any other Florida metro area. This county boasts the most concentrated high-tech economy in the state and the 16th most concentrated in the nation.
Celebrities and Newsmakers:
» Sports stars: Golfers Arnold Palmer and Annika Sorenstam; basketball's Shaquille O'Neal and Vince Carter; pro football's Reggie Williams; pro baseball's Ken Griffey Jr., Johnny Damon and Barry Larkin; tennis player Gigi Fernandez; surfer Kelly Slater; Olympic softball pitcher Dot Richardson; and legendary college football coach Lou Holtz.
» Actors and comedians: "Larry the Cable Guy" Daniel Whitney, Carrot Top and Mandy Moore
» Musicians: Roger McGuinn (The Byrds) and Joey Fatone ('N Sync)
» Flight explorers: Astronaut Story Musgrave and
pilot-balloonist Joe Kittinger
Modeling, Simulation & Training (MST)
» Orlando and surrounding Orange County have become a hub for the fast-growing MST industry, spurred in part by the presence here of the simulation procurement agency for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. University of Central Florida has the nation's first master's and doctorate degree programs in the field.
» A burgeoning cluster of medical and biotech businesses has formed east of Orlando at Lake Nona's "medical city," which includes Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando and UCF's newly opened College of Medicine. Other facilities set to open soon: Nemours Children's Hospital, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a University of Florida research center.
» A cluster of software businesses and companies specializing in "fi-tech," which supports banks and related businesses, is growing in Seminole County. Other industries continuing to emerge and grow here: digital media in Orlando and Lake Mary; amateur sports in Osceola and Lake counties; agritechnology in rural Orange and Lake counties.
Next page: East Central Florida's quality of life and notable employers