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Florida's Space Coast

Space Coast

Commercial aviation, tourism and cruise business

Agricultural concerns and slow job growth

Melbourne/Titusville/Brevard County

» With NASA cutbacks and the end of the shuttle program, the Space Coast economy would be far weaker if not for the growth of the commercial aerospace and aviation sector. While private rocket launches and entrepreneur space ventures will take years to replace the thousands of jobs lost to NASA cutbacks, deep-pocketed investors are lining up to take advantage of Cape Canaveral's aerospace infrastructure, from launch pads to trained personnel. XCOR Aerospace is expected to be among the first private companies selling suborbital flights on a regular basis from Kennedy Space Center, and the California-based firm says it may open a manufacturing and assembly center in Brevard for its reusable Lynx launch vehicle.

» Port Canaveral continues to lead the recovery, setting records in 2012 for the second straight year for cruise traffic volume and port revenue. During the past two years, multiday cruise passenger traffic surged 38% to 3.76 million from 2.72 million in fiscal 2010. The number of port-of-call visits by ships, primarily single-day visitors, rose from 86 to 123. Total port revenue surged 17% for the year to a record of more than $68 million. Port Authority member Bruce Deardoff, an auto dealership owner in Merritt Island, says the port's ongoing expansion will benefit all of Brevard. “As we attract more cruise and cargo business and develop Port Canaveral into a destination, our community reaps the benefits of the increased jobs and business opportunities.”

»  Meanwhile, citrus greening continues to take a toll on Brevard's orange and grapefruit trees. The bacterial disease, transmitted by a tiny leaf-hopper insect, is harmless to humans but ruins fruit and kills trees unless costly control measures are used to keep it at bay. Federal and state quarantines that began in south Florida have since spread north throughout citrus-producing counties, including Brevard, and limit the movement of citrus fruit and trees for commercial replanting. Citrus growers also continue to battle another tree disease endemic to Asia, citrus canker, and other pests.

Businesses to Watch

» Nuance Communications: The Burlington, Mass.-based company specializing in voice and language technology is expanding operations in Melbourne, with plans to create 115 jobs. The company's investment is forecast to boost its total annual economic benefit to the community by 66% to more than $24 million.

» Wuesthoff Health System: The Wuesthoff hospitals in Rockledge and Melbourne have acclaimed stroke centers, and an alliance with the University of Florida and Shands HealthCare has increased their access to state-of-the-art cardiac and stroke emergency services. The alliance allows for teleconference consultations between physicians and staff, continuing education exchange and patient transfer benefits to Shands in Gainesville. Both Wuesthoff hospitals have new leaders, Tim Cerrulo, CEO at Rockledge, and Jeannette Skinner, CEO at Melbourne.

» AAR Airlift Group: The company, with operations in Palm Bay and at Melbourne International Airport, provides specialized aircraft modifications and has created more than 225 jobs in the region since 2011.

Independent Launch Pad

» State and local leaders are exploring the establishment of a new launch complex in Brevard that could operate independently of NASA and the Air Force's Cape Canaveral Eastern Range. Private aerospace companies, such as Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), would like access to a launch pad potentially offering more rapid turnaround times and scheduling opportunities.

People to Watch

» Tom Weinberg: The newly elected chairman of the Canaveral Port Authority Board of Commissioners for 2013 previously served as chief of staff for former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.


» Travis Proctor: The CEO of ndtArtemis, Proctor was among the Governor's Innovators Under 40 Award winners in 2012. The Melbourne-based IT services and consulting company founded in 2003 serves small and medium-sized businesses targeted for growth, and in 2012 merged with a local competitor.

» Gary Spulak: Spulak is president of Embraer Aircraft Holding, which, in partnership with Space Florida, is building a $24-million engineering and technology center at Melbourne International Airport, to complement its Brevard airplane assembly plant and customer center.

Brevard Population: 552,172
Population Growth Rate (2009-13): 0.46%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
15.54% 5.65% 21.17% 35.99% 21.65%
Per Capita Income: $40,825

MSA Dec. 2012 Dec. 2011 % Change Jobless Rate
Deltona/Daytona Beach/
Ormond Beach
230,115 228,778 +0.6% 8.1%
Palm Bay/Melbourne/Titusville 243,881 237,348 +2.8% 8.3%
Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation

Homes - Single-family, existing-home sales
MSA 2013 Sales 1-Year Change 2013 Price 1-Year Change
Daytona Beach 7,347 +3.6% $105,000 +10.5%
Palm Bay
7,208 +9.5% $117,000 +9.2%
Palm Coast 2,278 +19.5% $123,000 +2.5%
Source: Florida Realtors

Daytona Beach/Volusia County

» Good weather helped propel the travel and tourism industry in Volusia County in 2012, with local hotel tax revenue hitting a four-year high of $14.4 million. Daytona Beach International Airport passenger traffic rose 6% for the year to 584,280, and total takeoffs and landings soared 29% to 284,512. Supporters of the successful Biketoberfest event, which draws thousands to Volusia beaches and bars, are hoping to expand it from a week to 10 days.

» Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, with its main campus at Daytona Beach, completed or began construction on about $60.5 million worth of campus improvements in 2012, including the $4.5-million Aerospace Boulevard, a loop road system; phase one infrastructure for Research Park; and the $13-million administration and welcome center, which has offices, meeting space and an airy 50-foot high atrium with interactive kiosks for visitors. A $39-million College of Arts and Sciences building will be completed later this year. A rooftop observatory will showcase the largest university-owned telescope in Florida.

» Wage and job growth continue to lag for the Deltona-Daytona-Ormond Beach metro area. The MSA, comprising Volusia County, is projected to show “low levels of growth” in most economic sectors from 2013-16, according to the latest regional forecast by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Competitiveness. The county's unemployment rate is forecast to average 8.2%, third-highest of 12 metro areas studied, and the average annual wage is forecast to be the second-lowest among the 12, at $41,200. Lack of diversification is a continuing challenge, as schools, state, local and national government agencies account for six of the nine largest employers in the county.

Businesses to Watch

» Daytona International Speedway: The home of the Daytona 500 stock car race and other events is exploring plans for potential redevelopment of its front stretch and mixed-use projects, says spokesman Andrew Booth.

» Halifax Health Medical Center: A master-planned community has the green light to add medical and professional offices, retail and apartments on 77 acres in Daytona.

» AO Precision Manufacturing: The Daytona Beach manufacturer has doubled its size with a $2.3-million, 60,000-sq.-ft. expansion, where it designs and produces products for firearms, defense, aerospace and other industries. The company hopes to hire more than 80 people this year, boosting total employment to 300.

People to Watch

» Cici and Hyatt Brown: Business and philanthropic leaders in Volusia, the couple donated $13 million to the Museum of Arts and Sciences for design and construction this year of the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. The Browns also donated 2,600 oil and watercolor paintings for the museum, which will specialize in Florida artwork.


» Jamie Adley: Adley is vice president of Winston-James Development in Port Orange and 2013 president of the Volusia Building Industry Association. Adley says his company nearly doubled its new-home sales in 2012, and residential and commercial builders are enthusiastic about low interest rates, the improving economy and reduced inventory.

» Mark Andrews: Andrews is president of Hudson Technologies, a producer of metal casings and products for aerospace and other industries, in Ormond Beach. Andrews was selected chairman of the Volusia Manufacturers Association.

» Joe Perez: As new government affairs director for the Volusia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Perez plans to raise the group's profile in Tallahassee and more closely monitor local, state and national issues as Hispanics throughout Florida gain political influence and clout at the polls.

Volusia Population: 504,933
Population Growth Rate (2009-13): 0.51%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
15.29% 5.67% 22.23% 34.64% 22.16%
Per Capita Income: $35,640

Palm Coast/Flagler County

» The Palm Coast/Flagler County economy made steady progress in 2012, and small-business development is leading the way in 2013. Flagler's unemployment rate continues to be among the highest in the state, but by year end the county managed to reduce it by two percentage points, despite more people looking for work.

» The county's new Department of Economic Opportunity, led by Executive Director Helga van Eckert, provided a sharper focus for business development, attracting Designs for Health, a nutritional supplement maker, to the Palm Coast Industrial Park. Florida Hospital Flagler contributed to the rebound by opening Parkway Medical Plaza, with expanded health and diagnostic services in a 34,000-sq.-ft. center off Palm Coast Parkway.

Flagler Population: 102,937
Population Growth Rate (2009-13): 2.11%
Population by Age:
0-14 15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
15.52% 5.25% 19.10% 33.18% 26.94%
Per Capita Income: $34,512