There is a saying; “The future doesn’t just happen, it is created.” Since 2010, Brevard County has transformed from a launch hub to a top location for industries such as commercial space, aviation, aerospace, manufacturing, including prime and supply chain businesses, and more. Supported by a strong business community fueled with strategic partnerships and driven by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC), Brevard County is seeing not just an economic comeback, but the creation of its future as the world’s high-tech hub.
How will we get there? The EDC has laid out six points in its strategic plan, in addition to its business attraction and retention efforts.
As we look to the future, identifying opportunities in diversifying our industry base remains key in expanding our economy. This will lead to greater investment opportunities from both domestic and global companies and continue our transformation from a launch site to the top location for high-tech industries, such as aerospace, aviation, engineering technology, information technology and computer science programs. Recent EDC project announcements such as RUAG Space USA, a supplier of spacecraft structural and thermal equipment, Red Canyon Software Inc., developers of cutting-edge technology for space exploration, and Walmart’s announcement to build a new state-of-the-art distribution facility, are examples of these diversification efforts that the EDC will continue for future investment.
2. Fueling the Talent Pipeline
With 48 engineers per 1,000 workers, the Space Coast boasts the most concentrated high-tech economy in the state of Florida and the 16th most concentrated in the nation. As even more high-tech jobs are created locally, continuing to fuel the talent pipeline through attraction campaigns and education and certification programs will remain a key component of the EDC’s program of work.
3. Supporting an Innovative Culture
The first man who walked on the moon launched from our very beaches. Keeping the innovative spirit that made this possible alive is another crucial element for creating our future. The EDC partners with companies such as high-tech incubator Groundswell Startups, and leads programs such as Tech Docking, an alliance between the EDC and NASA, which assists local companies with technological challenges. These initiatives serve as a catalyst to local innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth.
4. Manufacturing Our Future
The manufacturing industry in Brevard County represents 500 companies and more than 23,000 workers. With 3,000 more manufacturing jobs expected locally by 2022, supporting this growing industry is a prime initative of the EDC. The EDC’s Manufacturers Association of Florida’s Space Coast (MASC) will continue to be the voice for Brevard’s manufacturing base, promoting, advocating, connecting and educating through action oriented efforts in order to support the growth expected over the next five years.
5. Seizing Emerging Opportunities in the Commercial Space Industry
The new commercial space industry offers more room for that key diversification. We are already seeing the near-term impacts from companies such as OneWeb and Blue Origin in terms of jobs and capital investment. However, there are several enduring impacts the EDC is focused on. These include policies and regulations, new commercial products and services, innovation and technology, and finance. Each of these categories presents an opportunity for our county to launch ahead in this new space race as the domestic and global competition heats up.
6. Community Involvement
The Space Coast would not be what it is today without the support of our invested community. Local business leaders, elected officials and devoted residents work together to build a strong Brevard County. Keeping this momentum going by continuing to be supportive, vigilant, involved and vocal will launch the Space Coast into its next golden age.
Together, we are impacting the future of Brevard County.
Phillip J. Hayes, EDC of Florida’s Space Coast
Phillip J. Hayes, managing partner of Berman Hopkins Wright & LaHam CPAs and Associates, LLP, is also involved in numerous professional activities, including serving as Chairman of the Board for the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.