On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, Florida’s Space Coast is set to make history again through the determination of our community.

Fifty years ago, an estimated 650 million people tuned in to watch as Neil Armstrong became the first human to step onto the moon. 109 hours and 42 minutes earlier, the beaches of Florida’s Space Coast were packed and the eyes of the world were perched on our coast as Apollo 11 launched into history from Pad 39A.

More than just history launched that day. Apollo 11 proved to the world that America was the leader in space exploration, and that the Space Coast was its epicenter. In these fifty years, there have been ups, and there have been downs, but to the world, Florida’s Space Coast is where man’s journey to the unknown begins.

Our journey is still going. Today, we are poised to make history again, fueled by private industry and innovators that know no boundaries. However, nearly 10 years ago – as the Shuttle program took its final flight amid the great recession – the Space Coast was left asking “now what?”

Since 2010, EDC project announcements have led to 8,718 new jobs and 7,309 retained jobs. Our coast’s economic story is gaining national attention. Recent coverage has included an article in The Washington Post and an on-air segment on the nationally syndicated Fox News. However, our story is not finished. Here are a few ways the EDC and our partners are building a new history on Florida’s Space Coast:

Our economy is now more diversified than ever. We have a robust manufacturing industry that is poised for future growth and strong aviation and high-technology clusters that add to our complex business climate. The EDC focuses many efforts on diversification, which have led to such announcements as the attraction of several Embraer facilities throughout the county, and the 2008 announcement from Lockheed Martin that the production and assembly of the Crew Exploration Vehicle and its subordinate components would take place on the Space Coast. Until that time, our beaches served as a launch location, yet not a single space exploration vehicle had been manufactured within Florida’s borders.

Knowing our strengths
A decade ago, job loss numbers were in the thousands here on the Space Coast. By turning this challenge into opportunity, the EDC recruited industry complementary to the skill-sets of displaced employees. In addition, our readily accessible launch facilities provided critical resources to the emergence of commercial launch providers. The EDC continues to promote key assets such as these, and others, to attract and retain industry throughout the Space Coast.

Knowing our challenges
With a continuous low unemployment rate, talent attraction is more important – and tougher – than ever before. The EDC is combatting this challenge through several initiatives including our Manufacturing Workforce Program, which is training the next generation of manufacturing talent. In addition, the EDC’s Live Big Space Coast campaign program draws top talent to Brevard to fuel our workforce pipeline.

One area on the rise on the Space Coast is the private tech ecosystem of entrepreneurs and startups. This ecosystem attracted AOL co-founder, Steve Case, and his Rise of the Rest seed fund to the Space Coast on April 30. These small startups fuel our economy through innovation and their efforts lead to new technologies and opportunities within our high-tech industry.