September 19, 2021


East Central / Space Coast: Building on Strength

Simulation and life sciences join aviation/aerospace as anchors for this region's diverse economy.

Diane Sears | 9/24/2008

Orlando/orange County

Simulation Story: Lockheed Martin’s Orlando-based Simulation, Training & Support business unit, with annual revenue of $1.5 billion and 1,500 employees in Central Florida, is the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest supplier of simulator training equipment.

The unit is gaining traction with sales in other parts of the world, too, including the United Kingdom, where in June 2008 it was awarded its largest contract ever, worth almost $12 billion over 25 years, to supply flight training equipment for the British military.

Being in Central Florida has been vitally important to Lockheed Martin’s success because of the partnerships the simulation unit has developed with other nearby technology-minded concerns, including the University of Central Florida, gaming giant Electronic Arts and the private digital media school Full Sail University. Lockheed Martin’s military clients are close by, too, including the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO-STRI) and the Army’s Research Development and Engineering Command, Simulation, Training and Technology Center (RDECOM STTC).
“Florida is a great place for Lockheed Martin to continue to grow and thrive and be a major part of what’s going on,” says Chester Kennedy, vice president of engineering for the simulation unit.

Orlando Events Center
Opening in fall 2010, the Orlando Events Center — home to the Orlando Magic NBA team — is one of three new downtown entertainment venues.

Downtown Improvements

The city of Orlando, Orange County and private donors have teamed up to build three public downtown projects, which are expected to generate 10,800 jobs during the construction phase and employ 7,500 people after they’re built:

» A $480-million events center will replace the current Amway Arena, home to the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team and Orlando Predators indoor football franchise, in September 2010, with an expanded size designed to attract larger national entertainment acts.

» The Dr. P. Phillips Performing Arts Center, a $425-million facility to open across from City Hall in 2012, will include three theaters for traveling shows such as Broadway musicals and comedy acts, as well as the Orlando Philharmonic, Orlando Ballet, Orlando Opera and Festival of Orchestras.

» About $175 million in renovations to the historic Citrus Bowl by late 2011 will ensure that this stadium remains a primary venue for college football championship games and outdoor concerts.

With more than half of Lockheed Martin’s statewide workforce of 12,000 located in the East Central/Space Coast region, this company is one of the area’s 10 largest employers. The simulation unit and its other Orlando presence, the Missiles and Fire Control unit, are part of the parent company —Lockheed Martin Corporation — based in Bethesda, Md., that employs 140,000 people worldwide and reported almost $42 million in sales in 2007.

Under One Roof: Orlando-based Darden Restaurants expects to open a new $100-million headquarters in Orlando in 2009 to replace the 11 separate buildings from which this Fortune 500 company currently operates. Among Darden’s 1,700 restaurants worldwide are such familiar names as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille.

Other publicly traded companies based in the East Central/Space Coast region include: Harris Corporation with 16,000 employees and annual revenue of more than $5.3 billion, and HD Supply, AirTran Holdings, Tupperware and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Swimmers at Fanning Springs

In December 2007, business and civic leaders representing seven central Florida counties formed the Central Florida Partnership to support entrepreneurs and address the challenges of doing business in a global marketplace.

Other organizations committed to fostering entrepreneurship in the region include: the Disney Entrepreneur Center, which provides counseling and training for entrepreneurs at all levels; and the UCF Technology Incubator, which has served more than 70 companies that have created 450-plus new jobs and generated $150 million in revenue.

Tags: Space Coast, Business Florida


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