Updated 4 weeks ago
Melbourne / Titusville / Brevard County
From Titusville to Palm Bay, Brevard County's economy is outpacing much of the state.Wages are expected to grow an average 3.8% for the next several years, the best improvement statewide, and Brevard's $54,100 average pay is tops among Florida's 12 major metro regions.
Construction employment is forecast to surge 9.5% annually through 2017, followed by professional and service jobs, up 3.7%, and education and health, up 1.7%. Only the federal sector is projected to shrink locally, about -0.6% annually.
Port Canaveral is expanding its cruise and cargo areas, and the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center is being prepped for commercial use. Space X and other private companies Are stepping up launches at the Cape as NASA scales back.
In Titusville, new owners plan to replace the dilapidated Miracle City Mall with a modern shopping, dining and entertainment complex this year. And in contrast to markets with shrinking newspapers, Gannett has added local content in its Florida Today newspaper in Cocoa Beach, including a rotating column by local chamber presidents, plus 10 pages of USA Today on weekdays and 18 on Sundays.
Northrop Grumman: The company's 21,000-sq.-ft. Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence is expected to be completed and open this summer at Melbourne International Airport.
Wuesthoff Health System: With medical centers in Rockledge and Melbourne and more than 2,000 employees, the system has a large, new owner but is keeping its name and staffing levels following the buyout of its parent, Health Management Associates, by Tennessee-based Community Health Systems.
Harris Corp.: The Melbourne-based tech giant forecasts a profit this year of $1.5 billion. During the company's second fiscal quarter, its government communications systems unit in Palm Bay posted an operating profit of $66 million on sales of $433 million, up 1. 2%, to lead all units.
Comp Air Aviation: Comp Air, which makes high performance kit aircraft, is moving to Titusville's Space Coast Regional Airport, where it has room to expand, and plans to hire as many as 200 workers within five years.
Lighting Science Group: The Satellite Beach company, one of the 500 fastest-growing clean-tech companies in North America, completed a $20-million preferred stock sale late last year and appointed Craig Cogut chairman of the board.
LRM Industries International: LRM added a second building and two presses in Rockledge to produce thermoplastic panels and specialty products at the rate of more than 2 million pounds a month.
Daytona Beach / Volusia County
Volusia County's beaches and the Daytona International Speedway drive economic growth, but the county is looking for other ways to attract more visitors, businesses and potential residents. The East Central Regional Rail Trail for hikers and bicyclists, for example, will stretch more than 50 miles when completed. The first 5.7 miles from Deltona to Osteen is complete, and this year two pedestrian overpasses are being added, in Edgewater and New Smyrna, at a cost of $4.2 million.
The speedway, home of the Daytona 500 and other major races, is getting a $400-million upgrade.A Canadian company plans to build a beachside Hard Rock Hotel, and a number of other major hotel and condo renovation projects are moving forward this year.
Economic development officials cite Teledyne Oil & Gas in Daytona Beach, Frontier Communications in DeLand, and the Daytona campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as local growth pacesetters.
Brown & Brown Insurance: Based in Daytona Beach, the insurer is traded on the NYSE and run by the third generation of the Brown family. The firm continues to grow through acquisitions, with two early this year alone, including Wright Insurance Group with offices in New York and St. Petersburg, after three in late 2013.
Halifax Media Group: The Volusia-based owner of the Daytona Beach News Journal continues to expand in Florida and now owns more that 30 newspapers in five Southeastern states.
Raydon: The Port Orange simulation systems designer and manufacturer consolidated four operations into a single 112,000-sq.-ft. building while focusing on efficiency and now looks to resume growth producing training simulators for the military and other customers.
Mystic Powerboats: The DeLand company is boosting sales of its high-performance boats as the sector rebounds.A Mystic turbine-powered 50-foot catamaran set a 224-mph speed record on Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks, one of the top powerboat race stories of 2013.
Thompson Pump: The Port Orange manufacturer is adding distributors and dealers in the U.S. and abroad, as the family owned company responds to growing demand for its heavy-duty pumps in construction, mining, sewer lift stations and industrial sites.
Palm Coast / Flagler County
Flagler County economic development leaders are working closely with Enterprise Florida and other groups to attract more businesses like Aveo Engineering, a 2013 success story. The high-tech lighting manufacturer is settling in at Flagler County Airport, hiring the first of a projected work force of 300 engineers and others making advanced LED lighting for aviation and aerospace.The Economic Opportunity Department also seeks more specialty manufacturers such as sail-maker Gioia Sails, which opened a Southeast U.S. division in Palm Coast last year, to complement the boating industry cluster in Flagler.
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