Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Space Coast - Yearbook

The big story in Brevard County for 2011 and beyond continues to be finding jobs for space shuttle workers who'll become unemployed as the program winds down. Most immediately, the region is focused on trying to land a giant photovoltaic project.

Florida's Space Coast


> Attract more events, festivals and eco-tourism.

> Retain jobs and attract new businesses through newly created Team Volusia.

> Build support for restoring Amtrak passenger train service to Daytona Beach.

MSA DEC. 2010 DEC 2009 % Change Jobless Rate
Deltona/ Daytona Beach/ Ormond Beach 221,801 220,768 +0.5% 12.2%
Palm Bay/ Melbourne/ Titusville 234,110 235,612 -0.6% 11.9%
Source: Agency for Workforce Innovation

Homes Single-family, existing-home sales by Realtors
MSA Jan. 2011 Sales 1-Year Change Jan. 2011 Price 1-Year Change
Daytona Beach
595 +1% $115,000 -5%
Melbourne/ Titusville/ Palm Bay 460 +28% $93,200 -13%
Source: Florida Realtors

Brevard Population: 544,541
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.47%
Population by Age:
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
15.9% 5.9%
21.8% 35.3% 21.2%
Per Capita Income: $37,410

Space Florida President Frank DiBello says Brevard needs to attract companies such as Bigelow Aerospace, which makes space modules. One of the company's models is in the background. [Photo: Gregg Matthews]

melbourne / titusville / brevard County

With a 100,000-sq.-ft. building on five acres in hand and a renowned Solar Energy Center under its wing, the University of Central Florida is making a strong pitch for a $50-million federal grant to create a solar photovoltaic development center in Brevard County.

UCF and a group of business and local leaders are working with Sematech, a consortium of high-tech companies that helped make Austin, Texas, a leading center for the semiconductor industry in the 1980s and 1990s. Now the central Florida group hopes Sematech will help do the same for Brevard and nearby counties as Sematech creates a center for photovoltaics, funded in part by the Department of Energy, which is hoping to find cheaper ways of producing solar energy. The central Florida consortium made the final cut for the grant in January, and a decision could come at any time.

If central Florida wins, it could bring 300 jobs to Palm Bay within two years and thousands more to the region as far west as Winter Springs and Seminole County — jobs badly needed to replace those being lost to NASA cutbacks on the Space Coast. Intersil Corp., which manufactures semiconductor wafers in Palm Bay, donated one of its buildings to UCF last spring after it consolidated operations. The facility, originally built by Harris Semiconductor in 1977, would become the headquarters for the photovoltaic center.

Meanwhile, Space Florida, the state's lead agency promoting the industry, is focusing hard on diversifying the sector to attract jobs and buffer against large swings in employment as space shuttle missions end. Space Florida President Frank DiBello's Vision 2020 plan targets aviation, defense and high tech, along with commercial space development. DiBello says Bigelow Aerospace, a Nevada company working to launch commercial "space stations" by 2015, is an example of the entrepreneurial outfits Brevard needs to attract. Space Florida and Bigelow signed an agreement in February to develop an exhibit with scale models of modules the company plans to place into orbit. But company President Robert Bigelow is looking for millions of dollars in incentives to build a space-station production plant that might employ as many as 2,000. Florida could be outbid, he says.

batterStepping up to the Plate

> ROOKIE PLAYER: Sanswire Corp. — The maker of unmanned, dirigible-type vehicles used for surveillance and reconnaissance has moved from Maryland to Kennedy Space Center, the beginning of what Space Florida hopes will be a cluster of such operations.

> HEAVY HITTER: Lockheed Martin — The defense contractor is expanding its Aerostat operations in West Melbourne, to supplement Aerostat's work at Cape Canaveral and create up to 100 jobs paying an average of $42,000 a year.

> HEAVY HITTER: Space Florida — The state's lead agency promoting the industry is developing logistics to launch Minotaur rockets from the cape, under a U.S. Air Force contract awarded in January worth up to $48 million. "We have the tools to work with," DiBello says, including $31 million in state funding, a long list of companies to woo and projects to pursue. On paper, they could easily replace the estimated 9,000 jobs to be lost as a result of NASA cutbacks. But the region will go through a "traumatic" transition, he warns. "Trouble is, no one company hires 3,000 on day one. It takes time."

Daytona bEACH / VOLUSIA County

Daytona 500
Daytona International has a new president and a $20-million renovated track. [Photo: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images]

Volusia Population: 506,251
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 0.37%
Population by Age:
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
15.7% 5.9% 23.4% 34.0% 20.9%
Per Capita Income: $32,201


> Attract more festivals and eco-tourism events.

> Retain jobs and attract new businesses through newly created Team Volusia.

> Build support for restoring Amtrak passenger train service to Daytona Beach.

batterStepping up to the Plate

> ROOKIE PLAYER: TeamVolusia — Launched in late 2010 by local government and industry leaders, Team Volusia's challenge is to get the county and more than a dozen communities working together. Helen Cauthen, a veteran business recruiter from North Carolina, was tapped to be the first CEO. A predecessor, Enterprise Volusia, disintegrated in 2001 amid infighting. Team Volusia hopes to find more success in part by keeping recruitment as private as possible, through a separate group called the CEO Business Alliance. Funded by private donors, the entity can recruit without violating Florida's Sunshine Law. Former Daytona State College President Kent Sharples was hired in January to be its full-time recruiter.

> EMERGING STAR: Teledyne ODI — The Daytona Beach business originally known as Ocean Design is now the global leader in producing electrical and fiber-optic connection systems for deep-sea projects. Business took off after it was acquired by Teledyne Technologies in 2006 and fully merged in 2009. Employment has surged from 200 before the acquisition to about 325. Teledyne ODI made headlines in 2010 for crafting a key sensor and cable system that helped BP monitor and cap its blown deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico.

> HEAVY HITTER: Daytona International/ISC — Other than its beaches, the iconic business and economic driver of Daytona Beach and Volusia County is without a doubt Daytona International Speedway and its owner, International Speedway Corp. ISC struggled to maintain cash flow and profits in the economic downturn as blue-collar race fans lost jobs and pared spending. The last year the company reported sellouts at any of its 13 tracks was 2008. But ISC is regaining momentum after cutting jobs, costs and ticket prices.

playersImpact Players

> Wendy Libby, president, Stetson University — Wendy Libby made history when she was installed in 2010 as the first woman president in the history of the 126-year-old university. The DeLand school has an enrollment of just over 2,000 but a big impact as a producer of leaders in diverse fields including business and law.

> Joie Chitwood III, president, Daytona International Speedway —

Joie Chitwood III
Joie Chitwood III
International Speedway CEO Lesa France Kennedy shook up the boardroom at Daytona International Speedway last year, naming Joie Chitwood III to replace Robin Braig as president of the Daytona company's flagship track operation. Though not well known outside racing, Chitwood grew up in motorsports entertainment as part of the Chitwood Thrill Show.

> Jayne Fifer, CEO, Volusia Manufacturers Association — As CEO of the Volusia Manufacturers Association, representing Volusia and Flagler counties, Fifer has her hands full highlighting the fact that the counties offer more than beaches and tourism. Manufacturing is a vibrant segment, and Fifer is now delivering that message statewide. VMA recently joined the Manufacturers Association of Florida, and Fifer is helping promote the idea of the state creating a manufacturing commission.


Flagler Population: 96,750
Population Growth Rate (2007-11): 2.37%
Population by Age:
15-19 20-39 40-64 65+
15.3% 5.4% 19.7% 33.7% 25.9%
Per Capita Income: $31,335

Unemployment is still stubbornly high. While taxable sales rose and bed-tax revenue climbed 15% last year, Palm Coast Data, Flagler's largest private employer, laid off 30 of its 1,000 employees in January and Sea Ray boats, another big employer, trimmed about 100 jobs at its Palm Coast plant last year.