2012 Economic Yearbook
The shuttle’s demise didn’t push unemployment as high as many feared. Unmanned launches and major expansions by Harris, Boeing and other aviation-related businesses are helping.
Unmanned launches will keep the Cape busy this year, helping to offset a void created by the end of the shuttle program. [Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA]
Issues to Watch
» Space launches: While the space shuttle is gone, the actual number of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral won't decrease significantly. Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of the Air Force 45th Space Wing and director of the Eastern Range, says the Cape will be busy throughout the year, with at least one unmanned launch nearly every month. Addressing the National Space Club Florida earlier this year, Cotton noted that in addition to several military satellites, two National Reconnaissance Office payloads as well as unmanned mini-shuttle and NASA satellite launches are planned. Suborbital flights also are increasing.
» Shuttle fallout: Although space-related job losses continue for shuttle-related employers such as contract service company United Space Alliance, the county's unemployment rate never got as high in 2011 as many feared. Some job seekers left the area, shrinking the labor pool. And now Brevard Workforce officials say they expect job growth to pick up, pushing unemployment back down. A number of big companies are expanding: Harris Corp., for example, is starting work this year on a $100-million engineering center at its Palm Bay location, creating an estimated 300 construction jobs and at least 100 permanent jobs when the facility is completed in 2014; Boeing also has plans to bring more than 500 jobs to Brevard when it ramps up space-related manufacturing. It's still a challenge to replace the shuttle jobs' high salaries, however, says Deborah Kobza, executive director and CEO of the Global Institute for Cybersecurity and Research, which is based at Kennedy Space Center and is working with the Center for Technology Innovation and other groups to retain skilled workers. "Hiring has gone a lot slower than we would have liked," says Kobza.
» Aviation: Aviation-related growth is on a roll. Melbourne International attracted Embraer's executive jet manufacturing operation, AAR Airlift Group and Midair USA's aircraft servicing operations, and Titusville-based Professional Aircraft Accessories is expanding at Space Coast Regional Airport.
» Tourism: The county is looking to tourism to fill some of the economic void left by the loss of the shuttle. The $100-million Atlantis space shuttle exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center complex is under construction. The area also is counting on a bigger boost from Port Canaveral's thriving cruise ship business: Seven big cruise liners are now based at the port, including the latest arrival, Disney's Fantasy. Passenger traffic at Port Canaveral rose 13.9% last year to 1.55 million and should rise again this year as another cruise terminal is completed and work continues on a welcome center and other amenities.
Businesses to Watch
» MC Assembly: Employment at the company's Palm Bay location grew more than 28% to more than 900 employees in 2011, and company executives say the tide has turned for its electronic contract manufacturing in a range of fields from aerospace to medicine.
» Paragon Plastics: The Cocoa-based custom heavy-gauge plastic manufacturer for the marine industry and other fields is expanding, adding 15,000 square feet to accommodate another 10 employees.
People to Watch
» Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton: The commander of the Air Force 45th Space Wing and director of the Eastern Range, the nation's main rocket-launching region, is looking for a busy year with up to a dozen launches from Cape Canaveral.
» Mike Werner: The president of the Space Coast Economic Development Commission is also a vice president with Knight's Armament in Titusville, one of north Brevard's largest manufacturers.
» Betsy Farmer: The co-founder and executive director of Promise in Brevard, a Palm Bay group that supports people with disabilities, is heading an effort to build a $6-million independent-living complex on a 20-acre site in West Melbourne.
|Brevard Population: 551,910|
|Population Growth Rate (2008-12): 0.44%|
|Population by Age:|
|Per Capita Income: $40,377|
|MSA||Dec. 2011||Dec. 2010||% Change||Jobless Rate|
|Deltona/Daytona Beach/Ormond Beach||226,120||221,461||+2.1%||10.1%|
|Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation|
|Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales|
|MSA||2011 Sales||1-Year Change||2011 Price||1-Year Change|
|Source: Florida Realtors; year-end sales, median price|
|Brevard County Consumer Bankruptcies|
|Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center|