Updated 11 months ago
NEW MISSION : In Brevard County, NASA and the Kennedy Space Center launch site have been the economic engine for more than four decades. But there's concern that the shift from the space shuttle to NASA's new Space Exploration Initiative in the next decade could mean fewer jobs during the transition period and perhaps longer. The county is making a two-pronged effort to retain jobs by working to expand its role in the Space Exploration Initiative and recruiting biotech companies. "If interest rates remain steady, we anticipate a continuing of the strong economy. We are also, however, watching the federal budget carefully, particularly in the areas of NASA funding and Department of Defense contracts," says Lynda Weatherman, president of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast.
DIVERSIFYING: Volusia County's tourism economy is changing as older hotels are making way for luxury condos or condo/hotels. A push toward manufacturing and warehouse facilities is augmenting tourism. ... The new DeLand Crossings Industrial Park has signed on two major auto-related manufacturing companies, NSI Intellitec Products and BBK Performance, which will open this year. ... There are plans for another industrial park, 150-acre Tomoka Farms Industrial Park, at the county's landfill site on the western edge of Daytona Beach.
COMMERCIAL: Residential development continues in Flagler County and its primary community of Palm Coast, but commercial development also is starting to boom. Retail is coming online first, and Palm Coast is working to attract businesses that would make the area less of a bedroom and retirement community.
BUSINESS BOOST: After a flat tourism year, Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Chairman Jim O'Shaughnessy is more hopeful for 2007, in part because of last year's quiet hurricane season. "The optimistic news for us was the last three months of the year were up nicely." ... In January, the area got a boost when AirTran began serving Daytona Beach International Airport with flights to and from Atlanta and Baltimore-Washington. ... Part of the beach is in limbo, with mom-and-pop hotels razed to make room for condo projects that are now stalled. Says O'Shaughnessy, "We've got some large vacant lots." ... One of Daytona's biggest players, International Speedway Corp., plans to move forward this year with an entertainment shopping center project first announced in 2005. The site, across the street from the Daytona International Speedway, will include a mix of retail, office, residential and entertainment space.
? Founded more than 80 years ago, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the nation's oldest and largest university focused on aviation and aerospace. The school is partnering with Florida State University and the Florida Institute of Technology on space research and technology, including plans for a joint space institute.
? Kentucky native George Anderson has spent more than 30 years in Daytona Beach as a hotelier, developer and business leader. He led the effort to create Ocean Walk Village Development, a hotel and shopping hot spot in one of Daytona Beach's most run-down areas. Today, he's planning to redevelop 16 acres of oceanfront property into condo or condo/hotel units."If interest rates remain steady, we anticipate a continuing of the strong economy. We are also, however, watching the federal budget carefully."
-- Lynda Weatherman, Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast
Melbourne / Palm Bay / Titusville
ADJUST MENTS: The retirement of the space shuttle in 2010 and the transition to the new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is the overriding issue across Brevard County. Marcia Gaedcke, president of the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce, says that reports show that the area could lose as many as 5,000 jobs. She adds, "We're looking at the workforce at the Kennedy Space Center, the skill set that exists and what skills are needed for the new program." To reduce any adverse effects, the Economic Development Commission of the Space Coast worked with both CEV competitors, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman/Boeing, and obtained a commitment from the contract winner, Lockheed Martin, to do final assembly and checkout operations locally for the first time.
? Five-year-old Melbourne-based WiDeFi is a home-grown semiconductor company that is using its chips and software to expand the range of wireless systems. The company has received several rounds of venture financing and was a recent presenter at the Florida Venture Forum's Venture Capital Conference.
? The Merritt Island office of the Reynolds, Smith and Hills design and engineering firm is working on two projects as part of a multiyear contract to design facilities for NASA's Space Exploration Initiative. First up will be a new lightning tower system to protect the launch pad, crews and space vehicle; second will be a new mobile launcher and umbilical tower.
? AuthenTec is a world leader in fingerprint sensor security, used to restrict access to computers, buildings and private information. Launched in 1998 as a spinoff from Harris Corp., the Melbourne company was named High Growth Company of the Year in 2006 by ITFlorida.
? ASRC Aerospace at the Kennedy Space Center is designing ground support equipment and developing new technologies for the Space Exploration Initiative. The company received Florida's first annual Florida Space Business Award in 2006."We're looking at the workforce at Kennedy Space Center, the skill set that exists and what skills are needed for the new program."
-- Marcia Gaedcke, Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce
? investment income
RETAIL: "We've got a brisk economic outlook," says Ira Corliss, special projects manager for Palm Coast. ... Three major retail projects in the works: Palm Coast Town Center is a 1,557-acre, three-phase, mixed-use project that will include 2 million square feet of retail, 1.4 million square feet of office and 1.4 million square feet of non-retail commercial space. "It's moving along quite rapidly," says Corliss, noting that a Publix opened in late 2006 and a SuperTarget has been approved. Palm Coast Park, along U.S. 1, is in the planning stage and will include 1.5 million square feet of retail, 800,000 square feet of office and 800,000 square feet of industrial space in addition to 3,600 homes. Construction is under way on the third retail project, Cobblestone Village, which will include a Lowe's and Belk department store. ... Corliss is also focusing on attracting light industry to the rapidly growing Flagler County community. He's not particular about the type of industry, saying that software, computer design or back office operations are all possibilities.
? Palm Coast Holdings' Dave Lusby is overseeing development of Palm Coast Town Center and Palm Coast Park, the community's first major mixed-use developments.
? In a move to attract more businesses, Flagler County set up an Industrial Development Authority last year. The IDA's focus will be setting up Industrial Development Revenue Bond programs.
? Enterprise Flagler Executive Director Tom Cooley runs the area's primary economic development outreach organization. He managed a recent $1-million fund-raising campaign designed to give the group a more substantial marketing budget.
? Palm Coast developed "Splash" the frog to teach children and adults about swales -- trenches that are used for stormwater runoff, often in front of residential property. The program includes "Save the Swales," a comic-coloring book that will be distributed at libraries and after-school programs.