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East Central Florida

East Central at a Glance

East Central Florda

Demographics for the East Central region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.

• Adventist University of Health Sciences
• Beacon College
• Bethune-Cookman University
• Daytona State College
• Eastern Florida State College
• Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
• Florida Institute of Technology
• Full Sail University
• Lake-Sumter Community College
• Rollins College
• Seminole State College of Florida
• Stetson University
• University of Central Florida
• Valencia College

• Daytona Beach International
• Kissimmee Gateway Airport
• Melbourne International
• Orlando International
• Orlando Sanford International

• Port Canaveral

• Kennedy Space Center

While the longtime economic stalwarts —Tourism and Aviation/Aerospace — continue to thrive in East Central Florida, increased activity in life sciences, simulation and other up-and-coming industry sectors is helping to broaden this region’s economic base.

In 2012, Orlando set another tourism record, surpassing 57 million visitors. Along Florida’s "space coast," the flight-tested facilities and skilled workforce birthed by NASA’s shuttle program continue to attract companies needing ready technological infrastructure and expertise.

For the second straight year, Port Canaveral set records for cruise traffic volume and port revenue, up 21% and 17% respectively in 2012. Canaveral is today North America’s second busiest cruise port and is preparing to handle larger ships and more cargo by deepening and widening its main shipping channel. Construction continues on the first leg of the SunRail commuter train system connecting Orlando to Volusia County with an anticipated start in May 2014, and All Aboard Florida, the privately financed train service that is expected to begin carrying passengers between Orlando and Miami by 2015, is actively securing rights-of-way along its proposed route.


Young and old In metro Orlando, two-thirds of the popu-lation is under age 44. Sumter County, where just under half of the total population is age 65 or older, has a renowned and thriving retirement community ("The Villages").

Multiple cultures Latin influences are strong here, especially in Osceola County, where Hispanics make up 48% of the total population, compared to 23% statewide.

Technically savvy Brevard County, focal point for Florida’s Aviation industry, boasts 48 engineers per 1,000 workers, more than any of the nation’s 25 most populated metro areas. STEM jobs here account for nearly 27% of the total workforce, fueling innovation and attracting double the national average of patents per 10,000 workers.


Life Sciences/Healthcare
Two healthcare clusters are growing:
• Florida Hospital’s Health Village. Now open: The Florida Hospital-Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes. Coming soon: the U.S. headquarters of Mazor Robotics, an Israeli developer of robotic spinal surgery equipment, at the $55-million BioResearch Center.

• Lake Nona "Medical City." Now open: the $400-million Nemours Children’s Hospital. Under construction: the $25-million Proton Therapy Center — Florida’s first — at MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando. Coming soon: Orlando VA Medical Center in spring 2014.

Pharmaceutical industry
• DaVita Rx, specializing in renal care, will invest $8.75 million to expand facilities and create 100 jobs.

• Prime Therapeutics has opened a 55,000-sq.-ft. specialty pharmacy with plans to create 213 jobs.

• Catalyst Rx, serving 5 million patients in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, has established a 60,000-sq.-ft. call center and expects to hire 300.

Training and Simulation
Orlando’s simulation sector accounts for more than 12,500 direct jobs and 100 companies, including three with active U.S. military contracts:

• Northrup Grumman is developing/managing the next-generation air-combat virtual-training network for the Air Force.

• Cubic Corporation is developing virtual-training systems for engineers aboard Littoral Combat Ships, the Navy’s most advanced war vessels.

• Lockheed Martin is upgrading a combat simulator for the Army and developing new training systems for the Marine Corps.

In Melbourne:
• Brazil-based Archo Solutions Engineering will open its first U.S. facility, creating 50 aeronautical, automotive and naval design/engineering and production jobs as it seeks to tap into American commercial and executive jet markets.

• Lyon, France-based Vision Systems will site its first U.S. subsidiary, creating 40 manufacturing/engineering jobs.

• Lausanne, Switzerland-based Mid-Air SA will establish a U.S. aircraft maintenance operation; the anticipated 180,000-sq.-ft. facility will house a workforce of up to 450 within three years.

• Northrup Grumman will open a "Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence," adding more than 900 jobs, including hundreds of engineering positions.

Elsewhere in East Central:
• California-based United Paradyne Corporation will return to Kennedy Space Center to serve commercial launch providers and create 50 new jobs.

• Professional Aircraft Accessories has expanded its facilities at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, adding 65 jobs and increasing its workforce to more than 200.

• Italy-based Italico Aviation will open a manufacturing plant for light sports aircraft at Kissimmee Gateway Airport; 55 new jobs are planned.

• At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Diamond Aircraft Industries, the world’s third-largest general Aviation aircraft manufacturer, plans to establish on-campus R&D operations in October 2013.

Hospitality and Tourism
• At Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s retired space shuttle Atlantis went on public display in June, along with replicas of the Hubble Space Telescope and the shuttle’s external fuel tank and solid rocket booster.

• In 2013, the region’s theme parks grew bigger and better:

» SeaWorld Orlando opened "Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin" (its largest expansion to date) featuring a first-of-its-kind trackless ride and a chilly walk-through penguin habitat.

» Universal Orlando added a 3D Transformers ride and "Springfield," a collection of shops and restaurants based on the town that is home to "The Simpsons." Planned for 2014: another Harry Potter-themed attraction, "Diagon Alley."

» Walt Disney World completed more Fantasyland improvements. Next up: the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster in 2014.

• Kissimmee-based "Give Kids the World," a charity that hosts children with life-threatening illnesses and their families at its 70-acre, storybook-themed resort, is adding four new vacation villas to accommodate another 240 families annually. The expansion is being partially funded by a $500,000 gift from employees and guests of InterContinental Hotels, who raised the money through auctions, bake sales and other events.


Higher education opportunites
East Central Florida is home base for many top-notch higher educational facilities, including:

• University of Central Florida, known for its patent portfolio and size (second largest public university in the U.S.)

• Valencia College, serving 70,000-plus students on five campuses and recipient of the first-ever Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence in 2012

• Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida’s oldest college and No. 1 on U.S.News & World Report’s 2013 list of the nation’s "Best Regional Universities (South)."

• Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, the only independent technological university in the Southeast, is a Barron’s Guide "Best Buy" in college education

Eclectic housing options
Choose from weathered, tin-roofed bungalows in towns with colorful names like Yeehaw Junction and Holopaw, or brand new Colonials and Victorians in master-planned communities called Harmony and Celebration. One development in Lake County even offers a real Florida rarity — a full basement!

Hungry for hoagies?
No problem now that Wawa’s come to town. The popular Pennsylvania-based combination minimart-café-gas-station chain opened its first Florida outlet in Orlando in summer 2012 and plans 100 stores/3,500 new jobs across the state within five years.


• The Boeing Company Titusville
• Harris Corporation Melbourne
• Lockheed Martin Corporation Orlando
• Northrop Grumman Corporation Orlando and Melbourne
• Raytheon Company Orlando and Melbourne
• Siemens Orlando and Melbourne

• American Automobile Association Heathrow
• Darden Restaurants Orlando
• SeaWorld Orlando
• Universal Studios Florida Orlando
• Walt Disney World Orlando

• Adventist Health System Orlando
• Orlando Health Orlando


Siemens Energy plans to create a $7-million, 40,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art wind service training center near Orlando International Airport; as many as
2,400 wind-turbine workers from the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada and Brazil will train here annually.

Financial/Business Services
Construction has begun in Lake Mary on a four-story, 220,000-sq.-ft. finance center for Verizon Communications, scheduled to open in April 2014 and create 750 jobs by 2016.

U.K.-based Kingspan Insulated Panels has designated its DeLand facility as the company’s new North American headquarters, adding 30 new jobs to an existing staff of 132.