Central Florida Roundup
L3 Technologies and Harris merge
Plus, more business news from Central Florida
The recently announced $15-billion merger between L3 Technologies and Harris, based in Melbourne, creates the sixth-largest defense contractor in the U.S. out of what had been two medium-sized players. Both companies have big presences across Florida. Harris, which becomes the lead player, has more than 6,000 employees in the state at 15 locations — paying an average salary of $95,000.
The company’s workforce, focused on building communications and other tech gear for the U.S. military, is a big reason the Space Coast has one of the highest concentrations of engineering talent in the U.S. Meanwhile, L3 has 670 employees in Florida at facilities in Cape Canaveral, Jacksonville, Maitland, Melbourne, Orlando St. Petersburg and Sarasota, where it builds flight data recorders. Both firms spend big on research and development. L3 Harris Technologies, which will be based in Melbourne, will be among the 10 biggest public companies in Florida, with revenue of about $16 billion this year.
Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division opened a 6,500-sq.-ft. Orlando facility that includes five specialized labs with virtual reality, robotics and 3-D printing equipment for the division’s 5,000 employees. The company expects to create new patents and future contracting opportunities. Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control division opened a similar center at its operation in Dallas, which the company says has already helped secure millions of dollars’ worth of business.
More news and business for Central Florida:
- A circuit judge upheld a Seminole County ordinance compelling the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club to disclose dog injuries. XL Sports, a sports travel and indoor soccer company, will build a 50,000-sq.-ft. indoor soccer complex in Lake Nona, the company’s second location in Orlando and ninth in the U.S. The venue is expected to open next summer.
- The city of Orlando agreed to spend an extra $200,000 on arts programs to offset state cuts.
- Coral Gables-based MEC Development plans a $140-million, 300-unit apartment tower in downtown Orlando.
- 4R Restaurant Group, which owns the 4 Rivers Smokehouse barbecue chain, opened 4R Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs retail shopping complex.
- Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins will build a facility to test and refurbish rockets at its site near Kennedy Space Center.
- Disney World has begun date-based ticket pricing, charging more on busier days at its four theme parks. SeaWorld Entertainment agreed to pay $4 million, its former CEO Jim Atchison agreed to pay more than $1 million and its former vice president of communications agreed to pay $100,000 to settle an SEC investigation into misleading claims the company made about the financial impact of the 2014 documentary Blackfish. SeaWorld named Mark Pauls president of SeaWorld Orlando, its biggest park. Pauls had been corporate vice president for park operations. Jim Dean, who had led the marine park, was named a senior vice president in the corporate office.
- The average nightly hotel rate in the Orlando region topped $100 in August, according to data compiled by STR, the first time the rate eclipsed that mark. Brevard County commissioners pledged $10 million toward an aquarium planned at Port Canaveral. Seminole County reached a deal with Airbnb to begin collecting hotel taxes.
- Spirit Airlines plans to set up a crew base in Orlando for 150 pilots and flight attendants. Maitland-based Via Airlines will begin twice-weekly flights between Orlando Sanford International Airport and Tallahassee, as well flights from Orlando to Columbia, S.C., three times a week.
- Faculty members at Lake-Sumter State College voted to unionize. The University of Central Florida appointed Elizabeth Dooley provost and vice president for academic affairs. She replaces Dale Whittaker, who is now president. Dooley, who had been serving as interim provost since April, was previously vice provost for teaching and learning and dean of the university’s College of Undergraduate Studies.
- UCF’s CFO, William F. Merck II, was removed from his position and he retired after an audit revealed that the school used nearly $50 million in state funds intended for operating costs on capital projects.
- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University will open its annual student business-pitch competition known as Launch Your Venture to students at universities and colleges around the state. The cash prize competition, which will be held in April, is sponsored by International Speedway and Boeing Horizon X.
- Florida’s black bear population continues to grow — and so do conflicts with humans. That has led to euthanized bears and a 2015 bear hunt that was so reviled by residents that state officials canceled another hunt until at least 2019. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Brevard Zoo have begun working to provide a home for bears that cannot remain where they are because of human interactions. The Melbourne facility has already taken in a 20-month-old bear from Tallahassee. Brevard Zoo officials say an exhibit will teach visitors how to co-exist with bears.
Read more in our December issue
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