2019 Economic Outlook
Affordable housing, wages and transportation dominate Central Florida's challenges
Forecast | SPACE
President /CEO, Space Florida, Cape Canaveral
“We have continued modernizing and repurposing legacy Air Force and NASA spaceport infrastructure — today, all facilities that could be repurposed are finished. Our focus for the next decade is to build new infrastructure and new capacity at the Spaceport, to enable Florida to lead the world in this next space era, one that reflects the transition from a government-led and focused industry to a busy, commercial market-driven one, supporting space exploration, national security and commercial missions as customers.
We are on target to complete 28 launches (in 2018), with 33 to 35 forecasted in 2019 and a goal of 48 in 2020. We are planning new logistics, utilities, consumables and support facilities to handle a future of over 100 launches a year from the Cape, with horizontal and vertical launches and landings of rockets and spacecraft, the return of manned space flight by both U.S. government and civilian astronauts, and a new era of space commerce, trade, research and manufacturing in low Earth orbit and beyond.
We will see over 1,000 new workers at Exploration Park at the Spaceport (in 2019) and are planning growth in the next decade of 20,000 new workers, predominantly from commercial companies. The Spaceport is well on its way to becoming the world’s premier space transportation hub as well as the global leader in enabling space commerce.”
Forecast | SIMULATION
President /CEO, National Center for Simulation, Orlando
“The good news is we have a defense bill passed on time. That’s the first time in, I think, 15-plus years that Congress has actually delivered a defense budget early into the new fiscal year. What we’ve been living with over the last decade-and-a-half is that every year we enter the year under a continuing resolution. Which is uncertainty. Which is not good for industry, and it’s not good for government.
On top of that was eight years of budget cuts under the Obama administration. We had a very good year under the Trump administration in 2018. Even though there was still uncertainty in the budget, the amount of money that they executed was a banner year for the Central Florida simulation industry. We probably eclipsed the $5-billion mark in 2018 for obligations for existing programs of record and new program starts, which is a big recovery from what we experienced when they first implemented the Budget Control Act of 2011.
This year will be another banner year. Over a 12-month period, I think we’re going to see remarkable improvement in the readiness of our forces. That’s the story for 2019: We had a banner year in 2018 in the simulation industry, and now we have an entire year to execute another banner year.”
Forecast | TECHNOLOGY
Founder/CEO, ECHO Interaction Group, Orlando
“Autonomous vehicles and whatever infrastructure is going to be needed for it — the initial infrastructure-change conversation — it’s going to get much more relevant and prominent in 2019. There’s been an advent of companies that are going to be coming into the area, maybe even some that are homegrown. And not just autonomous vehicles as it relates to your private, personal vehicle, but freight companies, shuttle companies, all autonomous vehicle companies — that are going to want to make an entrance to our market because it’s potentially the epicenter for infrastructure changes. Because of that growth and just because of the changes that are going on with connectivity between other parts of Florida, that’s something to watch for.
Also because of the proximity to Magic Leap’s headquarters in South Florida and the fact that we’re already a hub for innovation in both entertainment and sim-tech, augmented reality and mixed reality are also going to be extremely relevant in the conversation in Central Florida. There are already so many gaming companies and startup tech companies that have been playing in the virtual reality space, now that’s going to start bleeding over into the next evolution, which is mixed reality.”
Forecast | EDUCATION
President, Valencia College, Orlando
“I anticipate that the most interesting and potentially disruptive development in the regional labor market will be the roll-out of the Disney Aspire program — a commitment to provide full tuition, fee and tech support to hourly workers at Walt Disney World and other locations. This is important for three reasons. First, it creates the possibility of genuine economic mobility for workers who have been trapped on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, not because of a public policy, but because of their increased value. Second, it will have a profound effect on employee retention — employees who might have moved on for another 50 cents per hour will find it more valuable to persist with Disney in order to keep their education benefits. And third, because Disney sets the market for service employees in the region, it could signal a new wave of investment in employees across the region.”