Business Florida 2011 - The Regions
East Central/Space Coast - Broadening Appeal
Technology, innovation and entrepreneurship add economic strength to this dynamic region.
Known throughout the world as a premier tourist destination, Florida's East Central/Space Coast region is steadily adding to its long list of assets with new emphasis on technology, innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.
In a region that boasts miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, renowned golf courses, Daytona Beach International Speedway, Kennedy Space Center and the world-class attractions at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World, new companies arrive and existing market clusters expand.
Avera Motors CEO R.J. Scaringe (left) and Director of Vehicle Engineering Celyn Evans found the skilled
workforce they need for auto manufacturing in Brevard County.? [Photo: Avera Motors
In east Orlando, a "medical city" is taking shape at the Lake Nona development, situated between the University of Central Florida (UCF), the third-largest public university in the nation, and Orlando International Airport, one of the busiest flight centers in the world. Working closely with the area's two largest hospital chains — Orlando Regional Healthcare and Adventist Health's Florida Hospital system, both of which boast multiple campuses and cutting-edge research in biotechnology, robotics, oncology, cardiology and pediatrics — this life sciences hub is expected to draw medical tourism to the area and spawn numerous healthcare businesses.
As home to NASA's Florida operations and Cape Canaveral, East Central Florida faces a major challenge with the shutdown of the space shuttle program and the anticipated loss of thousands of jobs in Brevard County. In response, economic development leaders are actively recruiting businesses to set up shop here, where a highly skilled workforce of rocket scientists and other technical professionals stands ready for new assignments. Companies specializing in "green" technologies, solar power, homeland security and defense, and aviation/aerospace are high on the recruit list.
Space Florida, an independent Special District of the state of Florida based at Kennedy Space Center and created to grow a sustainable space industry in Florida, is working alongside area economic development leaders to diversify funding to Florida's aerospace industry and to bring new high-wage jobs to the region.
Demographics for the East Central/ Space Coast 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 Community College
One of the most unusual new businesses to recently put down roots along Florida's Space Coast is Avera Motors, a new auto manufacturer that plans to create 1,100 jobs by 2015. Its 27-year-old founder, R.J. Scaringe, says he considered basing his company in the Northeast after attending school at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He chose Brevard County instead — largely because of the workers who will become available with the close of the shuttle program.
"The unique thing about this area is it has a great workforce plus technical talent," he says. "And it's a great place to recruit to. When you bring people in from Detroit in January, it's an easy sell."
Sowing the seeds of success
Lake Nona's growing medical city is projected to bring 20,000 jobs and $7.6 billion in economic impact to the area over the next decade. Its first tenants include the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute — the East Coast headquarters of a La Jolla, Calif.-based biotechnology research institute — as well as the new UCF medical school whose dean raised enough money to provide four-year scholarships for the entire first 40-member class. Three other anchor tenants are scheduled to open in 2012 and create more than 5,000 jobs: a Veterans Affairs medical center, a Nemours children's hospital and a University of Florida research facility.