FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Breaking New Ground

East Central

Two of the top 5 fastest growing cities in America are located in central Florida: No. 2, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, and No. 4, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach (Forbes)

The Villages, a master-planned community encompassing portions of three counties northwest of Orlando, was fastest growing of all 381 MSAs in the U.S. in 2106 for the third consecutive year. (U.S. Census Bureau)

Orlando ranks No. 1 for job growth — 4.57% — across the nation’s 100 largest metro areas. (Forbes)

  • Population / 3,673,747
  • Labor Force / 1,791,717
  • Households / 1,454,169
  • Total Earnings / $88.74 bil.
  • Median Per Capita Income / $40,480
  • Total Retail Sales / $61.9 bil.
  • Universities/Colleges / 18
  • Commercial Airports / 4
  • Seaport / 1
  • Spaceport / 1

Long anchored by NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, Florida’s Space Coast is today attracting private commercial firms in all aerospace sectors, from launches and manufacturing to research, facilities maintenance and servicing.



MELBOURNE/ORLANDO Aviation-defense firm Thales is expanding with a target of 500 net new jobs by 2021. Headquartered in France, Thales is a global leader in the aerospace, transport, defense and security markets.

TITUSVILLE/ORLANDO A significant presence in East Central Florida for 60+ years, Lockheed Martin is once again expanding here, creating up to 800 jobs at its Astrotech Space Operations site in Titusville and Missiles and Fire Control plant in south Orlando. And coming soon: about 300 Lockheed jobs from California to support testing and maintenance work for the U.S. Navy’s Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile.

BREVARD COUNTY Three private aerospace companies are on track to deliver on projects announced in 2015-16:

• Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to build a hangar south of its Cape Canaveral launch sites, where recovered rocket boosters will be prepped for reuse.

• OneWeb Satellites broke ground in March 2017 on its estimated $85-million facility at Exploration Park near Kennedy Space Center; satellite production and testing are slated to begin by the end of 2017.

• Blue Origin, the rocket company created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, began site preparation in February 2017 for an orbital launch complex and rocket engine test stand at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station; a manufacturing and assembly plant for the rockets that are expected to fly by 2020 is under construction at Exploration Park.

MELBOURNE AeroMod International, the leader in aircraft maintenance, modification and repair services, relocated its headquarters from Detroit to Orlando Melbourne International Airport and created 150 jobs; another 100 jobs are expected in 2017.

MELBOURNE Harris Corporation has opened a new Global Innovation Center at its Melbourne campus to showcase technologies the Florida-based firm has developed for the military, first responders and commercial airlines.

TITUSVILLE Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer opened its $3.5-million Aero Seating Technologies manufacturing facility in September 2017.

Key Players

The Boeing Company | Orlando, Titusville
Harris Corp. | Melbourne
Lockheed Martin | Orlando, Cape Canaveral
Northrop Grumman | Orlando, Melbourne

East Central


Life Sciences/Health Care

ORLANDO U.S. News & World Report ranked Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Medical Center among the nation’s top 50 “Best Children’s Hospitals 2017-18” in diabetes and endocrinology, cardiology and heart surgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.

LONGWOOD Medical IT services provider CompuTech City broke ground in March 2017 on a 10,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in Seminole County. The firm, which provides network security, billing, cloud-hosting, HIPAA compliance, project management and other IT solutions for more than 600 medical industry clients, will add 35 jobs.

ORANGE CITY Florida Hospital Fish Memorial will grow its footprint here by more than 180,000 square feet with the addition of ER beds and a new four-story patient tower for enhanced cardiac, intensive care and surgical services. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2018.

CAPE CANAVERAL Comprehensive Health Services Inc. will move into a 63,000-sq.-ft. facility by the end of 2017 as it shifts operations from Virginia to its Brevard County headquarters and creates 150 jobs. The medical management services provider established its first Florida office in 1999.

MELBOURNE Eastern Florida State College has opened a Health Sciences Institute, offering programs leading to degrees and/or certificates in nursing, surgical technology, radiography, dental hygiene, medical coding, phlebotomy and more.

TAVARES An expansion now underway at Florida Hospital Waterman in Lake County will more than double the size of the facility’s emergency department and add a four-story patient tower to accommodate a women’s and children’s unit, plus two floors set aside for future growth. Scheduled completion: July 2019.

LAKE MARY Orlando Health will begin construction in late 2017 on a free-standing emergency department and medical pavilion in Seminole County. Anticipated opening: fall 2018.

Key Players

Adventist Health System /Florida Hospital | Orlando
Orlando Health | Orlando
Osceola Regional Medical Center | Kissimmee

Florida Hospital’s Nicholson Center in Celebration attracts more than 50,000 health care professionals from the U.S. and abroad each year for medical meetings, conferences and hands-on training. In addition to a 500-seat auditorium with a customizable video wall, Nicholson offers training in 50 surgical skills stations and two operating rooms that closely emulate real-world experiences.



BREVARD COUNTY Florida Power & Light (FPL) expects to begin generating 74.5 megawatts of electricity — enough to power 15,000 homes — from its new Barefoot Bay Solar Energy Center in March 2018. One of eight solar plants FPL is scheduled to open across Florida by spring 2018, Barefoot Bay will require neither water nor staff to operate. FPL’s first solar facility in Brevard County — the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center at Kennedy Space Center — has been operational since 2010.

ORLANDO The Orlando Utilities Commission will add a second solar farm at its Stanton Energy Center in East Orlando before the end of 2017, providing enough solar output to power 2,000+ homes.

Key Players

Florida Power & Light | Juno Beach
Orlando Utilities Commission | Orlando



ORANGE COUNTY Amazon will open an 850,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center near Orlando International Airport in 2018 and expects to create 1,500 full-time jobs.

ORLANDO ABC Supply Company has purchased warehouse space in three Orlando buildings from which it will distribute roofing and other building materials.

GROVELAND Samsung relocated its appliance division’s southeast distribution headquarters to a 700,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Lake County to take advantage of the mid-state location and proximity to Florida’s Turnpike.

PORT CANAVERAL In 2016, Canaveral Port Authority completed $137 million in projects, including renovations to increase passenger capacity at three cruise terminals. The port invested $44 million to widen and deepen the harbor and $15.2 million on improvements to cargo terminals. With 4.2 million passengers in 2016, Port Canaveral is the second-busiest cruise port in the world.

SANFORD Orlando Sanford International Airport will add its first hotel on property in 2018 – a Hampton Inn by Hilton. In 2016, the airport handled more than 2.5 million passengers, an 11% increase over 2015.

Orlando International Airport continues work on a parking garage, remote check-in facilities and a station to eventually accommodate SunRail commuter trains and Brightline, the fast passenger train under development between Orlando and Miami. A $1.8-billion terminal will add at least 16 gates by 2020. Orlando International handled a record 41.5 million passengers in 2015, 10% more than the previous year.

Key Players

American Automobile Association | Heathrow
JetBlue Support Center | Orlando
Total Quality Logistics | Daytona Beach

East Central


Business Services

LAKE MARY The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) is adding 30 jobs to its staff of 200+ as it consolidates operations under one roof in Lake Mary. IIA is the internal audit profession’s most widely recognized advocate/educator, serving more than 185,000 members worldwide.

MAITLAND ADP, a global provider of cloud-based business outsourcing services, analytics and compliance expertise, expects to create 500 jobs within six months of opening offices in Orange County and a total of 1,600 positions in all.

LAKE MARY CardWorks Servicing, a provider of operational support and portfolio management to credit card issuers and installment lenders, will open its third U.S. operational center in Seminole County, creating approximately 240 jobs over two years. CardWorks is headquartered in Woodbury, N.Y., and has 1,200 employees nationwide.

ORLANDO Asurion, a Nashville-based insurer of mobile devices, opened a call center here in fall 2016 with 350 new employees and plans to hire another 200 in 2017.

Key Players

ADP | Maitland
Convergys | Lake Mary
Deloitte Consulting | Lake Mary
Verizon | Lake Mary

In May 2017, professional services firm KPMG broke ground in Lake Nona on its Learning, Development and Innovation Center that is expected to create 80 jobs. Target completion date: late 2019.



ORANGE COUNTY Orlando hosts five of the world’s top 10 theme parks; in 2017, the world’s largest theme park association will make its home here too. The International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions is relocating from Virginia, bringing 40 jobs and a commitment to hold its global conference and trade show at the Orange County Convention Center through 2030. The week-long convention draws more than 28,000 attendees.

ORANGE COUNTY Disney’s Magic Kingdom remains the most visited theme park in America with just under 20.4 million visitors in 2016. At Universal Studios Orlando, attendance was up 4.3% to just under 10 million; its sister park, Islands of Adventure, registered 9.4 million visitors in 2016 for a gain of 6.5% over 2015. Recent developments:

• Universal’s Volcano Bay water park and a ride based on NBCUniversal’s “Tonight Show” opened in spring 2017. Coming in 2018: the long-awaited "Fast and Furious" ride and the 600-room Aventura Hotel.

• At SeaWorld Orlando, the shark-themed “Mako” roller coaster helped push attendance over 4.4 million. Planned for 2018: a tropical rainforest-themed section with a river rapids ride featuring a 40-foot drop.

Key Players

Darden Restaurants | Orlando
Rosen Hotels & Resorts | Orlando
Wyndham Vacation Ownership | Orlando

The Kopiko Wai Winding River at Univeral's Volcano Bay


Technology / R&D

KISSIMMEE Belgium-based nanoelectronics research center IMEC has opened imec Florida in collaboration with BRIDG, an Osceola County-based advanced manufacturing facility, to provide photonics and high-speed electronics integrated circuit design solutions for companies seeking to develop/manufacture innovative products for the health care, aerospace, security and transportation industries.

ORLANDO Granite Communications has opened an office in Orlando and is expanding operations in West Palm Beach; 100 new jobs are anticipated. Granite provides communications products/service in the U.S. and Canada.

ORLANDO Digital technology firm Arrow Sky Media is relocating its international headquarters from Nashville to Orlando’s Creative Village, a 68-acre mixed-use destination where high-tech companies are beginning to cluster. The world-class animated entertainment creator plans 114 jobs.

ORLANDO Orlando’s reputation as an emerging growth city for startups and innovative technologies has led financial tech startup Finexio to relocate its headquarters from Silicon Valley. Finexio’s smart B2B network helps corporations eliminate and convert paper checks to electronic formats.

Key Players

EA Tiberon | Orlando
Veritas Technologies | Lake Mary

East Central


Beyond the bright lights
This region’s theme parks are the best to be sure, but with 72 miles of Atlantic coastline, including the Canaveral National Seashore, and the 1,000 or so inland bodies of water that give Lake County its name, East Central Florida has plenty of natural beauty to enjoy. Check out rare albino alligators at Wild Florida in Kenansville. Take a drive on the sands of Daytona Beach. And say hello to the real Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center and to her neighbors, the bald eagles at Merritt Island National Seashore.

Sunset over Lake Minneola in Clermont

Tech savvy
Brevard County, birthplace of America’s aerospace industry, attracts 11 patents for every 10,000 workers, according to the Brookings Institution. And with 56 U.S. utility patents granted in 2016, University of Central Florida placed 20th among U.S. public universities and 41st worldwide. Elsewhere in the region: Four East Central high schools earned gold medals in U.S. News & World Report’s “2017 Best High Schools” ranking — two were among the nation’s top 50; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ranked No. 1 in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 list of “Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees” and, at No. 32 on the U.S. University Employability Survey 2016, Florida Institute of Technology tied with Cornell and Carnegie Mellon among best universities in the U.S. for producing graduates employers want to hire.

Tennis, anyone?
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) opened its $100-million, 60-acre national training center in Orlando’s Lake Nona community in January 2017. It includes 100 courts — 32 that use the same hardcourt as the Australian Open, eight that use an identical surface to the U.S. Open and six that feature the same red clay as the French Open — and eight courts designed for kids. Although created primarily to serve as headquarters for the USTA’s Player Development and Community Division, the facility is open to the public with court rental starting at $12 an hour. Within a few weeks of opening, more than 100 events had been booked through the end of the year.

USTA National Campus rendering