Economic Yearbook 2008
SPACE COAST: Back to Earth
MELBOURNE / PALM BAY / TITUSVILLE
The area is shaped by the ups and downs of the space industry, and the increasing constraints on the federal budget leave many pessimistic. President Bush’s 2009 budget proposal recommends a 2.9% increase in NASA’s budget, an amount less than the rate of inflation.
» As president and CEO of 2-year-old Space Florida, Steve Kohler is on the front line of maintaining Florida as the center of the nation’s space activities, both government and commercial. His mission is to create opportunities for the space workforce, including supporting commercial ventures to transport crew and cargo to the International Space Station.
» Howard Lance leads the area’s biggest high-wage job-creation engine, defense and communications powerhouse Harris Corp. In 2007, the company added about 850 jobs in Brevard, giving it just over 7,000 workers in Melbourne and Palm Bay. That’s up from 5,200 five years ago. The company plans to add 850 this year. Job openings are at all levels, from new grads to experienced technical and engineering professionals. One focus is computer engineers and other high-paying professions.
HOUSING TREND / MELBOURNE- TITUSVILLE-PALM BAY
Single-family home sales in the Melbourne, Titusville, Palm Bay area fell to 5,181 in 2007, down 19%, according to the Florida Association of Realtors and the University of Florida Real Estate Research Center. That was far better than the statewide drop of 29%. Median sales price, on the other hand, was off by 12%, the second-largest drop in the state after Punta Gorda, which was down 14%.
Condo sales were down 26%, about in line with the 27% drop statewide. Melbourne, Titusville and Palm Bay condo prices dropped 11%, much greater than the 3% statewide drop but not as bad as the 21% and 16% condo price declines in Fort Myers-Cape Coral and Naples-Marco Island respectively.
The city’s growth has put a burden on infrastructure, particularly water and public transportation. The St. Johns River Water Management District projects that by 2025, groundwater supplies in the district as a whole will have to be augmented by 200 million gallons a day of "alternative" water. Palm Coast opposes the district’s plan to tap water from the St. Johns River, Crescent Lake and the Oklawaha River on environmental and financial grounds.
Palm Coast’s only access to public transportation is Flagler County’s on-demand system of small buses and vans. It is so oversubscribed that the county is not accepting new riders. "That’s the hot button," says Ira Corliss, the city’s economic development coordinator. Residential areas, she adds, do not have a lot of interconnecting roads and natural transportation hubs.
» Jon Netts, mayor of Palm Coast since November, advocates seawater desalination, estimating it would cost $3 to $4 per thousand gallons compared to $5 to $6 per thousand gallons for river and lake water. To jump-start the idea, Netts, a 16-year resident of the area, helped develop the Coquina Coast Cooperators, a group that includes Flagler, St. Johns and Volusia counties as well as a number of other municipalities in the region. Over the next three to six months, the group is looking at the technical pros and cons of land-based vs. ship-based seawater desalination and also what type of governing body would oversee such a project.
|POPULATION AND PROPERTY - Palm Coast|
|Year||Poulation||Property value per resident|
|Source: City of Palm Coast|