Central Florida Roundup
Florida Power & Light and GE Digital open Microgrid Control Laboratory at UCF
- Florida Power & Light and GE Digital opened the Microgrid Control Laboratory at the University of Central Florida, which will serve as a research facility for engineering faculty and students to simulate and test real-life grid control operations. GE Digital also launched an internship program that will offer UCF students experience in the utilities and power sectors and help students develop analytical and software development skills using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- Full Sail University is building a $-million virtual production studio on its 210-acre campus in Winter Park that will combine live-action footage and computer-rendered graphics in real-time - essentially creating a live, virtual studio set.
- Climate First Bank, which launched its flagship location last summer in St. Petersburg, has opened its first Central Florida location in Winter Park. Founder Ken LaRoe started and sold First Green Bank.
- The Orlando Utilities Commission and the city recently introduced a 2030 Solar Pledge, which asks businesses and organizations that sign on to promise they will use at least 10% solar energy initially and 100% solar energy for facilities by 2030. Signers include the Orange County government, the city of St. Cloud, the Orlando City Soccer Club and Orlando Pride soccer teams, UCF Downtown and boat maker Correct Craft.
- Tom Williams, chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts since 1999, will retire in March. Williams moved to Orlando in 1988 to open Universal Studios and led the theme park’s growth both in Central Florida and overseas. Mark Woodbury, a 30-year veteran who served as vice chairman and the president of the park’s creative division, stepped into the CEO role in January. Michael Hightower, a former senior vice president and executive project director of Universal Parks and Resorts, is now president of Universal Creative. Karen Irwin, formerly president of Universal Studios Hollywood, was named president of Universal Orlando Resort after Bill Davis retired from the position in January.
- Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney’s Imagineering division since 2016, is stepping away from the position to become Global Imagineering Ambassador for the park. Barbara Bouza, who was co-managing director of the architectural and design firm Gensler in Los Angeles until joining Disney in 2020, will take over as president of Walt Disney Imagineering. In other news, Disney will debut its first ever reverse-launch roller coaster — Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind — next summer at Epcot.
- Orlando Health has begun building a 180-bed hospital in Lake Mary. The acute-care facility will create 1,000 to 1,200 jobs when it opens in spring 2024.
- Jennifer Wandersleben, CEO of acute care services for AdventHealth’s Central Florida division-south region, was named CEO of the hospital system’s heartland region covering Polk, Highland and Hardee counties. Brian Adams, formerly CEO of AdventHealth’s Polk County operations, is taking over as CEO of acute care services for the Central Florida division-south region.
- Valencia College recently opened its largest workforce training center — a 26,400-sq.-ft. Center for Accelerated Training at John Young Parkway and West Colonial Drive in northwest Orlando. The center will provide training programs in areas ranging from welding to carpentry and clinical medical assisting and is expected to train more than 500 workers each year.
- Rollins College in Winter Park is building a 16,165-sq.-ft. theater and dance center funded by a $5-million gift from Philip and Sigrid Tiedtke and support from Sally Abrecht, a composer who graduated from the school in 1976. The Tiedtke Theatre & Dance Centre will open later this year and will include a 1,900-sq.-ft. black box theater that can accommodate up to 142 guests and a 2,400-sq.-ft. costume design and technology lab.
- Orlando-based Tupperware Brands is selling its House of Fuller beauty business in Mexico as it divests non-core assets and focuses on growing its core Tupperware brands. It marks the second sale of a business line, after Trinitas Equity Partners bought its Avroy Shlain beauty business in South Africa. The consumer products company also sold the 125 acres of developable land and 490 acres of common areas and wetlands near its campus to its real estate partner, New York-based O’Connor Capital Partners, for $37 million.
- Nancy Alvarez, former morning news anchor of WFTV-9, CBS’ affiliate in Orlando, has joined Heart of Florida United Way as senior vice president of community relations & equity impact.
- Tampa-based American Landmark Apartments has purchased the 208-unitWaverly Place Apartments in Melbourne and plans to rename it City Harbor. It’s the company’s third real estate investment in the Palm Bay/Melbourne region.
- Blue Osceola Apartments, an affiliate of Miami-based Waterstone Capital, has acquired a 16.5-acre site at Osceola Corporate Center (adjacent to the Tupperware SunRail station in Orlando) for $11.45 million. The firm will build a 448-unit multifamily development on the site.
- Orlando City Soccer Club and the Orlando Pride hired Jarrod Dillon as president of business operations. For the past six years, he worked for Vinik Sports Group in Tampa, first as executive vice president of sales and marketing and most recently as chief marking and revenue officer, leading revenue strategies for all VSG properties, including the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- Danish HR tech firm Eloomi opened its first U.S. office in Orlando and plans to create 50 jobs over the next few years. Last year, the company landed $55 million in funding from Great Hill Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm.
- Topdesk, a global provider of enterprise service management technology located in Orlando’s Quadrangle Business Park near UCF, is doubling its workforce with plans to add 30 jobs by the end of 2022.