An Ecosystem of Opportunity
Last year, 2015, was a year of transformation. This community was redefined, refocused, and reimagined.
It is the year of Brevard County’s comeback. It is a story of leaders defying the odds against an insurmountable challenge and coming out on the other side stronger than ever before. It’s about an economic development team that refused to take no for an answer, and instead came together to keep our community relevant.
This story didn’t write itself overnight. It’s been a work of art years in the making. The groundwork that has been laid over the last few years is now culminating in an impact that is impossible to ignore.
With a vision for what this community could be, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC) engaged our partners to help usher in a new era of industry competitiveness. The EDC gathered the smartest minds in space to help us market our capabilities beyond simply launch. We were on the front lines of attracting new forms of space transport, which started with the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and has since evolved into a multi-vehicle commercial transportation program.
Long standing Space Coast icons like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Harris, and Northrop Grumman were part of the charge. The commitments they made just a handful of years ago – launch humans from here, gain access back to space, expand our corporate footprint – were promising. What Brevard County is seeing today is the culmination of these commitments coming to fruition, alongside new corporate investments.
Five years ago, we brought an international jet maker to the Space Coast that had plans for a customer delivery center. Today, four facility announcements later, and with sites on both ends of the county, Embraer has shown us that sometimes the potential for “what could be” is greater than “what we can see” at the present moment. Embraer brought not only an international presence with them, but also, the power to influence and grow a flourishing aviation cluster.
It’s not only the largest companies making the biggest waves. This past year brought our share of these smaller, yet resilient, companies. Companies like Erchonia, a medical device manufacturer who relocated from Texas, and Merritt Island Boat Works, a 40-year old yacht builder that expects to invest $16 million in its Merritt Island facility. These companies saw what the Space Coast had to offer and were convinced there wasn’t anywhere else that would support their growth quite like this community.
And then there are those that have been a part of our corporate neighborhood for some time, deciding to expand locally. Companies like Teletech, a global provider of customer service solutions that will add 300 positions, The Brix Project, a distillery expected to create dozens of jobs and invest $3 million in capital improvements, and Paragon Plastics, a high-tech plastics manufacturer that plans to add $300,000 in new equipment and expand their workforce by 30 percent in Titusville.
This combined growth is spurring an entire ecosystem of opportunities for our residents and attracting even more attention to our community with leading industry rankings from the Brookings Institution (#7 Highest advanced industry share of total employment in the U.S. 2015) and the Milken Institute (#1 most concentrated high-tech economy in Florida and # 6 in the U.S. 2014.)
For those who thought our days as a premier business destination were behind us…we’re just getting started.
Lynda Weatherman is president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.