Brevard • Lake • Orange • Osceola • Seminole • Sumter • Volusia
Florida’s East Coast is drawing a global audience beyond its world-renowned theme parks. The Space Coast is the world’s busiest launch site, and Orlando is carving out its reputation as a leader in metaverse technologies. Transportation, from new terminals at airports to high-speed rail, is a game-changer for the region as new residents flood in.
AdventHealth is one of Florida’s largest hospital and health care systems; the Altamonte Springs-based nonprofit spans the state and is frequently opening new hospitals in Florida’s fast-growing regions. It’s also a presence in redeveloping areas, including a $26 million, 19,000-square-foot emergency room in Orlando’s Millenia community. Construction of the 24-patient bay facility comes after the demolition of buildings earlier this year from the former 14-acre Holy Land Experience theme park near Orlando’s famed Mall of the Millenia. Advent Health has more than 57,000 employees across 40 hospitals and freestanding emergency centers.
Orlando Health’s Jewett Orthopedic Institute is Florida’s first of its kind. It opened in August 2023 featuring 10 state-of-the-art operating rooms, 75 smart patient rooms, an 11,000-sq.-ft. sterile processing center and cafeteria. In the operating rooms, physicians are able to live stream surgeries to Orlando Health medical residents and collaborate with doctors anywhere in the world. The “smart” patient rooms will feature a digital whiteboard with access to medical information, video conferencing, as well as entertainment streaming services. Patients can control their room’s environment with advanced remote technology.
Brevard County is getting a medical school with two institutions, the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine and Florida Institute of Technology, working together to create the program on Florida Tech’s Melbourne campus. Burrell students will be able to use Florida Tech’s libraries, fitness facilities, student health services and housing. A pathway program will guarantee Florida Tech pre-med students admission into Burrell if they meet the established criteria for academic performance. Osteopathic medicine is one of the fastest-growing health care professions.
Orlando is ranked the No. 1 Best College City in America among midsize cities and third among all cities, according to WalletHub’s 2023 survey. The annual ranking is frequently used by high school seniors to help decide where to go for college. Using 32 key indicators of academic, economic and social opportunities, the study compares more than 400 cities across the U.S. to determine the best college towns and cities. Driving the high rankings is the affordability of attending the University of Central Florida, where 57% of first-time-in-college students graduate without debt, and the proximity to major tech and aerospace companies.
Lake County has opened a new center focusing on providing businesses with support in downtown Eustis, from working with the UCF Business Incubation Program to coaching on growth strategies, mentoring, leadership training, and guidance on accounting, legal, marketing and public relations. In addition, the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF has established an office to work collaboratively with the incubation program entrepreneurs.
Volusia County Schools launched its dual Spanish-English Language Program at two schools, and it has proven so popular that it’s expanding to more sites. The dual language program teaches students to become biliterate, bilingual and bicultural by the time they complete elementary school, and research shows it will also help them perform better on tests and increase their employability, the district says.
Florida-based Brightline drew international acclaim when it became the only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad in the U.S. more than a decade ago, but it has been its expansion to Orlando in 2023 that opens up a new Florida travel frontier. The new Brightline station at Orlando International Airport will accommodate an anticipated approximately 4.3 million passengers annually. The high-speed trains make the trip from Orlando to downtown Miami in about 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Port Canaveral in Brevard County earned the title of the world’s busiest cruise port and plans on holding it with the construction of a seventh terminal to accommodate even more ships. With PortMiami looking to reclaim the title, Port Canaveral has also increased the size of ships calling Port Canaveral home and is looking to add new cruise lines. Port Canaveral creates a $6.1 billion impact on the Florida economy, double what it did in 2018. It’s annual record for passengers is 4.6 million. It’s home to the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas.
NASA's Artemis II lunar mission in 2024 is planning to launch from the Kennedy Space Center and send the first astronauts around the moon in nearly 50 years. The mission will launch four astronauts around the moon on a lunar flyby aboard an Orion spacecraft using a Space Launch System rocket. Artemis II is an eight-day mission that is the precursor in the plan to return humans to the moon in 2025. The spaceflight will carry three Americans and one Canadian: Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Koch from NASA, and Jeremy Hansen from the Canadian Space Agency.
Florida’s private space industry is producing an annual economic impact of more than $1.1 billion a year, says Space Florida after a record-setting year for rocket launches. The launches included Relativity Space’s flight of a 3D-printed rocket. NASA and private partners SpaceX and Boeing launched crews of astronauts to the International Space Station this year, and SpaceX sent satellites and private citizens to space from Florida's Space Coast.
A new center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach is training students to work in mission control as more satellites are launched in the private space industry. The students learn to track satellites, monitoring for anomalies and resolving issues. “This, paired with a degree in space operations, makes our graduates uniquely job-ready for positions at control centers,” says Tom Guinn, chair of Embry-Riddle’s Applied Aviation Sciences Department.