Four Space Coast-Based Organizations Awarded $2.2 Million In Federal Funds

Space Coast Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator Will Help Expand Central Florida’s Clean Energy Hub

Brevard County, FL (September 9, 2011) – Four Brevard County-based economic development organizations – Space Florida, the Space Coast Energy Consortium, Brevard Workforce and the Technological Research and Development Association (TRDA) – have been awarded a total of $2.2 million in Federal grants to further develop a clean energy hub in Central Florida. Programs and services enabled by the grants will provide employment opportunities in this rapidly growing high-tech sector.

The Space Coast Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator was one of 20 projects nationwide that will share a total of $37 million in federal funding. According to the EDA, “winning projects demonstrated the existence of high-growth industry clusters that support a wide range of economic and workforce development activities.” The breakdown of local awards included:

  • $1 million from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) – used to:
    • (1) create a “One-Stop Connector (supported by the Space Coast Energy Consortium) for local energy firms to connect with state and national resources and help build capacity of clean energy companies in the area.
    • (2) create a Space-to-Energy Regional Innovation Center, which will help space-related and traditional energy companies bring clean energy applications to market through trials and demonstrations utilizing the world-class engineering resources resident at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
  • $1 million from the Department of Labor – Brevard Workforce will oversee use of these funds and assist growing energy companies identify personnel and training needs and assist members of the Central Florida community obtain the training or certification(s) necessary to fill those job opportunities.

  • $150,000 from the Small Business Administration (SBA) – This funding will be managed through TRDA and used to mentor small businesses as they work through contracting/ proposal processes to grow their organizations.

Space Florida led the proposal coordination for the Space Coast Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator Team. As part of its proposal targeting the EDA-related grant funding, Space Florida committed to provide matching support of $250,000 to the program.

“These federal funds come at a time when the clean energy cluster is really beginning to thrive in Central Florida,” noted Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “Having four of the area’s top economic development and workforce agencies working together is a recipe for success. We envision this effort resulting in significant job and overall clean energy cluster growth in the next two years.”

Within 48 months, the Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator team plans to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Identify 10 companies to receive funding assistance via Federal, State and private financing organizations
  • Assist the creation of at least five new clean energy-related businesses
  • Create 200+ new jobs in regional, energy-related companies
  • Identify 10 companies to collaborate with the Energy Regional Innovation Center at KSC, to sponsor clean tech demonstrations that will accelerate commercialization of emerging technologies
  • Support long-term planning for Clean Energy Cluster workforce needs, with 80% of participating employers reporting improved availability of skilled and trained workers
  • Convene 10 events (including the Annual Space Coast Energy Symposium) to connect regional companies and organizations to strengthen the clean energy cluster
  • Provide related services to at least 80 companies during the project period

“We look forward to the opportunity to leverage this award together with the wide range of federal and community partners involved to build a robust and dynamic energy-related industry here in Central Florida,” said Mike Aller, executive director of the Space Coast Energy Consortium.

“We expect this bold initiative to bring education, training and job placement assistance to move participants along a career pathway toward occupations within the Clean Energy cluster,” said Brevard Workforce President Lisa Rice.

“TRDA is pleased to be partner in the Space Coast’s effort to support clean technology entrepreneurs bring their ideas to market and grow their companies, and in doing so help to diversify and strengthen the regional economy,” added TRDA Executive Director Chester Straub.

Nationwide – according to the EDA – the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Program is expected to create 4,828 jobs and retain 2,429 jobs, while providing training for 4,000 workers in high-growth industries. It is also anticipated that the effort will help 339 new businesses get off the ground across the country. The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge was part of the Obama Administration’s Taskforce on Advancing Regional Innovation Clusters.

About Space Florida: Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace development organization, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed. www.spaceflorida.gov.

About The Space Coast Clean Energy Consortium: The Consortium is a non-profit association of businesses and community leaders who are dedicated to driving energy-related economic development in the Space Coast and Central Florida.  More information on the Consortium is available at our website: www.SpaceCoastEnergy.org

About Brevard Workforce: Brevard Workforce is the area authority on workforce development, providing comprehensive services, labor market information and access to resources for businesses and job seekers. Visit www.brevardworkforce.com or call 504-7600 toll-free in Brevard for more information about our services and resources.

About TRDA: Launched in 1987, the TRDA is a technology-based economic development organization with a focus on the incubation of new businesses, the acceleration of the growth of existing firms, and the commercialization of innovative technologies. For more information, visit www.trda.org.

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