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Central Fla., Space Coast Business Briefs - December 2010

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER — United Space Alliance, the main contractor at Kennedy Space Center, began in October laying off the first wave of workers whose jobs disappear with the end of the space shuttle program. Alliance layoffs are expected to number about 900, with another 200 job losses coming from other contractors.

LAKE MARY — Lake Mary-based technology firm Accesso has developed a mobile phone application for small and midsized theme parks, as well as museums and zoos, so users can customize their experience. The Accesso Mobile application lets guests buy tickets or memberships, make donations, navigate through the attraction, and upload content to social media applications such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

LEESBURG — A new Leesburg High School program that helps develop future careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics has attracted more than 300 students this year.

MELBOURNE — Harris Corp. has received several new contracts recently, including a nine-year, $273-million deal with the Canadian government for avionics systems work on CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft; a $64-million continuation contract for work on the U.S. Air Force Satellite Control Network Program; $25 million worth of work over 21 months to upgrade the ground-based control equipment for the U.S. Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base in California; a $9.6-million order for a new Type-1 Suite B handheld tactical radio for U.S. and allied combat forces; and a $9-million order from the U.S. Army for Falcon II high-frequency radios.

» An aviation company reportedly is negotiating a $30-million project that would create 400 jobs with an average wage of $55,000 at Melbourne International Airport and has filed for economic development incentives through the city.

ORLANDO — In October, the city opened the Amway Arena, the first newly constructed NBA facility with LEED certification.

» Virgin America has added non-stop service between Orlando International Airport and Los Angeles and San Francisco. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson visited the airport to make the announcement in October.

» Alinean, a software firm founded in 2001 that creates sales and marketing tools for business-to-business vendors, is expanding and will hire 10 people in the next two years and lease additional headquarters office space in downtown Orlando. The company was approved to receive economic development incentives from the city and state.

» Orlando-based Clean the World Foundation received $100,000 from the Harrah's Foundation to develop a soap-recycling facility in Las Vegas. The company, formed in 2009, collects discarded soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion from hotels and recycles them to distribute worldwide to people who are homeless or poor.

» Iconic soul food restaurant Johnson's Diner in the Parramore area of downtown Orlando, reportedly $60,000 behind on its rent, closed its doors in October. It opened in 1983.

» A new Partnership III building that opened in late October at the Central Florida Research Park houses the University of Central Florida's Institute for Simulation and Training and several military agencies, boosting the relationships that form the area's $3-billion, 17,000-job simulation and training industry.

» Valencia Community College received approval from the Florida State Board of Education to offer its first bachelor's degree programs starting as early as next fall: One in radiologic and imaging sciences and another in electrical and computer engineering technology.

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Osceola Regional Medical Center has signed a partnership with the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, one of the largest clinical research programs in the nation, which will open a cardiovascular clinical research strategic site that allows the Central Florida Cardiac & Vascular Institute to expand its program. Physicians and patients will be able to participate in clinical trials locally.

» Walt Disney Co. has named seven home builders to design and construct homes at the Golden Oaks at Walt Disney World Resort: Cahill Construction of Winter Park; Issa Home of Celebration; Derrick Builders of Kissimmee; J. Richard Watson Construction of Ocoee; and Goehring & Morgan Construction, Jones-Clayton Construction and Ray Coudriet Builder, all of Orlando. They will build showcase and spec homes in a 450-property gated community with prices from $1.5 million to $8 million.

ROCKLEDGE — Grimaldi Candies, which makes and sells chocolate-covered potato chips and other confections, has grown from its longtime Melbourne base into a Rockledge location that recently expanded by 12,000 square feet. Owners Phil and Jamie Holtje, who purchased the business in 2009, plan to expand into national and international sales.

SANFORD — Dutch carrier ArkeFly will start offering twice-weekly, year-round service between Amsterdam and the Orlando Sanford International Airport in June. The announcement came just after Martinair said it is discontinuing?passenger flights to concentrate solely on cargo.

» Orlando Sanford International has leased a 2,152-sq.-ft. building at the Airport Commerce Park to the city for YouthBuild, a city/county program that offers at-risk youths education, leadership development, counseling and on-the-job training.