Central Florida Roundup
Turbo charged: High-tech manufacturing in Central Florida
A high-tech manufacturer has invested more than $250 million in its central Florida operations since 2001.
Some of the most advanced manufacturing in Florida is happening inside a non-descript warehouse in the middle of a hardscrabble section of south Orlando.
The 225,000-sq.-ft. facility is home to Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas’ Orlando Service Center, where it makes and repairs finely engineered components, such as the blades used in gas- and steampowered turbines found in electricity generating facilities across North, South and Latin America. The factory employs 748 people, many with engineering degrees. “I like to say we’re an engineering company that builds turbines,” says Bob Provitola, the factory’s general manager.
Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems has another 257 employees a half-hour away in Lake Mary, which serves as the company’s Western Hemisphere headquarters.
Mitsubishi’s operations are the kind of high-tech, high-pay manufacturing that communities across Florida covet. Next door, Osceola County is providing land and millions of dollars toward the construction of an advanced manufacturing center aimed at drawing tenants who would build high-tech sensors.
Mitsubishi’s Orlando Service Center has grown steadily since it opened in 2001. Dave Walsh, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, estimates the company has invested more than $250 million into its central Florida operations over that period.
Walsh says what has made the area so attractive to Mitsubishi are investments such as the expansion of Orlando International Airport, the redevelopment of downtown Orlando and improving engineering programs at the University of Central Florida, University of Florida and Florida State University.
Growth prospects are good, Walsh says, as more utilities replace coalfired units with natural-gas-burning facilities. And more companies are looking into “distributed generation” options — smaller, gas-fired units that they can use to disconnect from the broader power grid.
“There’s an enormously growing interest in this phenomenon,” Walsh says.
- The Orlando Ballet hired James T. Cundiff to be its fifth executive director in four years. Cundiff, once interim director of the charitable organization The Mustard Seed, replaced Jim Mitchell, who left after just nine months on the job.
- Larry Dale, executive director of Orlando Sanford International Airport for 14 years, says he will retire this fall.
- Joel Manby, former head of the company that owns the Dollywood attraction in Tennessee, was named CEO of Orlando-based Sea- World Entertainment. Manby replaces Jim Atchison, who stepped down late last year.
Profile: Luxe Creations Design and Development
Steven Kodsi, the developer behind high-end condo towers The Sanctuary and Star Tower in downtown Orlando, is returning to the central Florida market. But this time, he’s developing single-family homes. Luxe Creations Design and Development, a joint venture between Kodsi and south Florida interior designer Reginald Dunlap, has several projects under way in Orange County, including two spec homes in Winter Park and Windermere that will each list at more than $1 million.
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — Adventist Health System, the parent company of the Florida Hospital network, paid $5.4 million to the federal government to settle claims related to radiation oncology services.
CASSELBERRY — The city will buy the money-losing Casselberry Golf Club for $2.2 million. The club’s owner said he was considering selling the land to developers.
CLERMONT — Lake County commissioners rejected Cemex’s plans for a new sand mine.
GROVELAND — Denver-based Real Capitol Solutions paid $25 million to buy the largest building in Lake County, a vacant, 700,000-sq.-ft. warehouse once owned by Circuit City.
LAKE BUENA VISTA — Walt Disney World will change the name of its Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park for the second time in seven years but didn’t immediately announce the new name.
LEESBURG — Concrete-products company Coreslab will move and expand its manufacturing operations to a 75-acre site between County Road 470 and Florida’s Turnpike. The company expects to employ 55, with the potential to expand to 100.
ORANGE COUNTY — Darden Restaurants plans to sell its 6-year-old headquarters and lease back the $152-million office campus. > Spanish clothing retailer Desigual will open its first location in central Florida at the Florida Mall. > The Central Florida Expressway Authority approved a slight reduction on tolls while I-4 undergoes a multiyear renovation. Also, the toll road authority qualified for a $193-million federal loan that should help accelerate construction of a 25-milelong expressway extending through northwest Orange County and into Lake County. The new road, called the Wekiva Parkway, is expected to be completed in 2018, rather than 2019.
ORLANDO — Orlando became the first city in the country to surpass 60 million visitors last year, when 62 million tourists visited the area. > The city designated the nearly 100-year-old Tinker Field, a baseball field where Martin Luther King Jr. Once spoke, as a historic landmark but will preserve only the field itself. The grandstands will be torn down. > CNL Financial Group will launch an energy-focused investment fund, with a target of $1.3 billion in assets. > Universal Orlando Profile Luxe Creations Design and Development Steven Kodsi, the developer behind high-end condo towers The Sanctuary and Star Tower in downtown Orlando, is returning to the central Florida market. But this time, he’s developing single-family homes. Luxe Creations Design and Development, a joint venture between Kodsi and south Florida interior designer Reginald Dunlap, has several projects under way in Orange County, including two spec homes in Winter Park and Windermere that will each list at more than $1 million. Steven Kodsi Reginald Dunlap began testing the use of metal detectors at the entrance to roller coasters to prevent debris from falling out of riders’ pockets. > The owner of forprofit DeVry University plans to lay off 50 people at its Orlando campus. Middle Eastern airline Emirates will launch daily, non-stop flights Sept. 1 between Orlando International Airport and its global hub in Dubai. Norwegian Airlines is adding a weekly non-stop flight at Orlando International Airport to Copenhagen, Denmark. The airline already flies between Orlando and Oslo, Norway. The U.S. Tennis Association broke ground on a $60-million training center in the Lake Nona development. The USA National Campus is expected to be complete by fall 2016.
SEMINOLE COUNTY — Construction began on a $27-million, 102-acre sports complex aimed at drawing amateur tournaments.
THE VILLAGES — The expanded and renamed Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center reopened after nearly two years of renovations that included expanding the venue to more than 1,000 seats.
WINTER PARK — For-profit Full Sail University opened a digital entertainment studio in partnership with Walt Disney subsidiary Maker Studios.