Positioning Itself for the Future

The first ‘Best Practices’ article that I wrote for Spacecoast Business (March 2010) began with my love affair of the state of Florida.  After trekking around the U.S. for eight years, I concluded that the best state to live and work in was where I started out.  So I returned home.  My second article (July 2010) zeroed in on Brevard County and the proposed parkway.  Again I found myself wondering what all the fuss was about, when we are one of the few counties in the U.S. that actually has the foresight, funding and willing participants to actually grow and move forward.

So let me end my first year as a contributing writer and focus on my city, Palm Bay – what the city has done, what’s in store, where it is heading, and what the master plans are for this growing community of 107,000 residents and 100 square miles of opportunity.

Overcoming a Bad Rap

There is a misconception about crime in Palm Bay.  Therefore, I would be remiss if I failed to mention we have been listed as having one of the best police departments in the state for four years in a row.  As of the last reporting period, Palm Bay ranked as one of the lowest in crime of all Florida cities with populations over 100,000.  We were the first police department in the U.S. to offer Data Dots, a revolutionary process of identifying valuables should they be stolen.  Under the leadership of Chief Bill Berger the department won accolades for being one of the few to have the high-tech processes and equipment, called LODIS, to determine DNA at the crime scene within days instead of months.

Known For Innovation

Years ago, Palm Bay’s moniker was “The City with a Future.”  At the time, the city was poised to become a vision that the old cities up north could only dream about – miles of endless opportunity, a virtual white sheet of paper in which to create a futuristic city.

Landing on the Forbes list of ‘20 Most Innovative Cities’ at #11 should have been a clue that the caliber of talent here rivals some of this country’s finest cities.  Forbes used venture capital funding and a ratio of high tech, science and creative jobs to arrive at the city’s ranking.  Companies such as Globe Wireless, Intersil, DRS, Midwest Research Institute, Harris Corp., Shapes Aerospace and a host of other leading businesses helped elevate Palm Bay to surpass some of the largest cities in the U.S. when it comes to innovation.

And let’s not forget the affordability factor of living and working in Palm Bay.  Several years back, another feature article landed the city’s name on a national publication’s target list of fastest growing cities in the U.S., bringing developers and investors in from out of state.  The city was also selected as one of America’s most “playful” cities taking into account the abundant parks and recreation areas per capita and amenities galore.  This generated another wave of interest and set the stage for what will become “Palm Bay – The City of the Future.”

What’s On the Horizon?

So, come along as I take you on a tour of Palm Bay in 2020.  The city fathers have high tech, alternative energy and the medical fields on their radar screen, and several companies are planning their growth around centralizing in the south corridor of Palm Bay once the new parkway goes in.  Not wanting to wait for the first concrete pour, many are moving ahead with how to lay out the projected Emerald City.  With miles and miles of land, the opportunity to create one of the country’s greenest cities is too irresistible to ignore.  It will boast a new downtown area with living quarters over local shops and plenty of quaint bistros and shopping.  The heart of all of this will be medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, research and development.

While much of the future planning isn’t transparent to the world, the city is working diligently to ensure Palm Bay will continue to grow, continue to land on lists and transform itself from the quiet bedroom community it once was into a forward-thinking pioneering city of the future.  I plan to be part of it and prepare the Palm Bay business community for the wave of opportunities on the horizon.