Central Florida Roundup
Osceola County is near 'NeoCity' deal with South Korean semiconductor firm
Osceola County is near a deal with DSUS, the American subsidiary of the South Korean semiconductor firm DS Semicon, over the purchase and development of 25 acres of lakefront property within NeoCity. Under an agreement approved in September, DSUS will purchase the land for $14.1 million and transform it into a 3.1 million-sq.-ft., development with condos, retail, a 200-room hotel and conference center, restaurants, an urban farm and more.
The county and its consultants have been working for years to attract South Korean investment to NeoCity, which aims to cultivate better-paying tech jobs in the region to diversify the county’s tourism-heavy economy. Earlier this year, SkyWater Technology Foundry moved from Minnesota to NeoCity’s semiconductor and research facility, with promises to create 220 high-wage jobs by 2026.
- Orlando-based Massey Services acquired All Service Termite and Pest Control of Georgia, giving the company 15 service centers in that state. Massey also bought Insight Pest Solutions in Virginia Beach, Va., and Wilmington, N.C.
- Dr. Phillips Charities awarded $6 million to AdventHealth for Children to create a Center for Advancement and Support of Youth, which will provide a comprehensive pediatric and young adult mental and behavioral health program. The center aims to reduce ER visits and hospitalizations. Over the past two years, more than 300 children have been hospitalized at AdventHealth for Children following suicide attempts or self-harm events.
- Port Canaveral officials approved Brevard Zoo’s plan to build an $85-million aquarium and conservation campus on 14 acres at the port. Depending on how fundraising goes, the aquarium could open as soon as early 2027.
- Avanti Way Capital, a Miami-based real estate management firm, acquired the 37,685-sq.-ft. Shoppes at Lake Mary for $8.36 million through its real estate investment arm, Gallium Capital. The shopping center is 94% leased.
- Lamar Cos. of New Jersey and Colorado-based Real Capital Solutions purchased the nearly vacant Volusia Square shopping center on International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach for $12.2 million.
- Darton U.S. Holdings is planning to build a resort that will include a 526-room luxury hotel, conference center and parking garage on 30 acres near Disney.
- Terran Orbital is building a $300-million satellite and space vehicle manufacturing complex in Merritt Island. The 660,000-sq.-ft., three-building facility will be the largest satellite factory in the world, with an ability to produce 1,000 satellites per year. By 2025, the company (which has headquarters in Boca Raton and Torino, Italy) will employ 2,100 at the factory at an average salary of $84,000.
- Orange County commissioners awarded $13.18 million from its Affordable Housing Trust Fund program to four housing projects that will create a total of 525 units for low and very-low income households in the Orlando area. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings noted that each project is close to transit, employment centers and community resources.
- Mike Kraus, one of the founders of Orlando-based KMI International, a worldwide project and construction management firm, is retiring as the company transitions to employee ownership through an employee stock ownership plan. Co-founder John Manning will become chairman, and Eric Quinn was promoted to CEO following two years as COO.
- Brown & Brown, the 82-yearold Daytona Beach insurance brokerage that trades on the New York Stock Exchange, was added to the S&P 500.
- BaseballCloud, an Orlando-based company that offers a suite of software to help coaches and players better use performance metrics, has acquired Yakkertech, a company in Phoenix that makes an optical tracking system using software and camera systems to analyze pitching and hitting in amateur baseball and softball.
- IeAD Sports & Health Tech Partners, an accelerator for earlystage sports and health tech startups, and Tavistock Group have launched the Lake Nona Sports & Health Tech Fund. Thomas Rudy, an experienced venture capitalist, is leading the $30-million fund, which will invest in seed-stage companies that are focused on “athletes, health and well-being and fan engagement.”
Checkr, a private company that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to help companies perform background checks and vet potential employees, will establish a headquarters in Orlando that will bring an estimated 600 jobs with a median wage of $55,000. The company already has offices in San Francisco and Denver. Ravenswood Solutions, a Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of SRI International, has opened a product development center at the UCF Innovation District at Research Park. The company provides government and commercial clients with technology and services for combat training, testing and evaluation of vehicles and equipment and policy analysis events.
Training Fun and Games
When HOA (Hooters of America) Brands was looking for an engaging way to train kitchen staff to work at its fast-casual spinoff, Hoots Wings, the restaurant company turned to Orlando-based Digitec Interactive for help.
The company created a game featuring a 3-D simulation, where staff can practice setting up, cleaning and shutting down the restaurants’ specialized ovens that cook the wings. Trainees receive scores and personalized feedback on their performance to keep them engaged.
Jack McGrath, Digitec Interactive’s president and creative director, says digitally immersive training such as the one created for Hoots saves time and also results in better retention than traditional training methods — in essence, “people get smarter faster.”
The 21-year-old company has created hundreds of similar projects for clients including Disney, Hilton, Amazon and Sally Beauty, but McGrath says the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted demand since much of the training can be done remotely. “We’re seeing a lot of new clients coming out of areas that we wouldn’t have expected,” says McGrath. “Normally, we were focused on mostly Fortune 100, Fortune 500 companies. Now we are seeing a lot of medium-sized organizations who are embracing it.”
Read more in Florida Trend's December issue.
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