Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Central Florida's economic forecast for 2022

Frank DiBello

President/CEO, Space Florida, Exploration Park

“We have every confidence in Florida’s role as the leading global enabler of a new space economy and aerospace industry. In 2022, we will continue to invest in new infrastructure throughout Florida’s spaceport system, including the capability statewide to handle 100 launches a year and accommodate launch-on-demand and satellite-on-demand capacity.

As we transition the industry from government-led to commercial- and market-driven, we must provide meaningful space policy leadership, a supportive business ecosystem and world-class infrastructure enabling next-generation space companies to locate here and thrive. In this last decade, we have taken the value of the portfolio of infrastructure financed from under $100 million to more than $2.7 billion, most of which is private capital investment. Our goal for the next decade is a portfolio value over $10 billion, focused on both ground and on-orbit infrastructure for research, manufacturing and new commercial service activities.

New sources of private-sector capital and financial institution trading relationships will fuel the entrepreneurial and technology-driven ecosystem that will propel Florida’s space and aerospace industry.”

Waymon Armstrong

CEO/President, Engineering & Computer Simulations, Orlando

“With the pandemic having proven the value of model simulation, the industry is expanding. It’s brought more applications within the age of quarantine, lending itself to more creative uses that continue to evolve. The industry continues to grow in Central Florida, with more applications, even for soft skills, such as empathy training, which is even done now via computer simulation. Before COVID, there was a need for soft skills training we hadn’t addressed, and COVID did not make this any better. There is a project for the Veterans Administration that helps the user simulate giving bad news to someone, for example — training them that you cannot give false hope — and guiding users in how to make the right decisions. There are 140 Central Florida member companies in the Orlando-based National Simulation Center representing $6 billion in military contracts, with salaries averaging $80,000 a year.”

Satellite Manufacturing

Terran Orbital goes public in the first quarter through a merger with a special acquisition company in a transaction involving Lockheed Martin and AE Industrial Partners. The company makes and operates small satellites for commercial and government markets such as NASA. It will be establishing a $300-million manufacturing facility on Merritt Island, part of a deal with Space Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis calls it the largest satellite manufacturing facility in the world, set to produce about 2,100 jobs by the end of 2025.

Road Work

Two of three design phases to create a four-lane limited-access expressway from U.S. 27 to SR 429 in Lake County will be completed this year. Boosting access to Orange County will support growth, says Tracy Garcia, director of the Lake County Office of Elevate Lake, who calls it a “major game changer.” Access will boost Elevate Lake’s four major strategic economic corridors and job creation: Wellness Way, located on over 15,000 acres, capitalizing on the area’s sports medicine and health sciences; the 1,300-acre Wolf Branch Innovation District focusing on innovation and research around the newly completed Wekiva Parkway extension into Mount Dora; the 4,000-acre Minneola Interchange along Florida’s Turnpike with its mixed-use developments; and Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park, a manufacturing hub.


Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge breaks ground on a $4.5-million Community Conservation and Visitors’ Center early this year. The 8,100-sq.-ft. facility will include exhibit space and much-needed classroom space, says Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Services Manager Kim King-Wrenn. The refuge’s non-profit association raised $1.5 million for the new facility’s exhibit space, with the National Wildlife Federation contributing the rest.

Randy Haffner

President/CEO, AdventHealth, Central Florida Division, Orlando

“We believe personalized medicine is the future of health care and are heavily focused on genomics across a number of our specialties. This year, we’ll have expanded opportunities for Central Floridians to learn about their genomics, which will empower them to make health decisions before certain types of cancer or heart conditions, for example, become medical emergencies.

Not only are we set to open a new tower devoted to orthopedics and neurosurgery on the Orlando campus next year, but the talent we are recruiting and the type of care they are able to provide is next level. Another area we’re investing in is pediatric mental health. AdventHealth for Children is creating the Center for Advancement and Support of Youth, the first-of-its-kind comprehensive pediatric and young adult mental and behavioral health program in Central Florida.

The country is now facing a widespread nursing shortage. We’re deploying a variety of approaches to recruit and retain good talent in Central Florida, including an expanded tuition reimbursement program. We also just announced a new nursing transformation initiative to create a nursing model of the future. Physician burnout is another national issue that we’re addressing locally.”

Phil Brown

CEO, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Orlando

“Being able to allow vaccinated passengers back into the U.S. now will help us to get passenger numbers to levels we saw before the pandemic. Especially the British — they have had a significant presence here in Orlando, visiting friends and relatives here for as long as I can remember, and we have missed that influence.

On the domestic side, we’ve seen a strong resurgence in travel after COVID, especially last summer with the rollout of the vaccine. Infections are now lower than 5%. We are probably 75% of where we were in 2019. It’s a good opportunity to have a very robust spring break.

Construction of the new south terminal is about 80% complete. It’s just the technology that needs to be added, such as a state-of-the-art baggage system — where luggage is tracked by computer chips, each bag in its own bin, there is nothing like it in the U.S. — along with an immersive media environment, or IME, as we call it, which is pretty spectacular. It offers travelers a broad flavor of what it’s like to be in Central Florida.

Disney’s 50th anniversary celebration will drive traffic, just as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter brought visitors, and our traffic peaked with that event. And innovation hubs like Lake Nona, a health sciences cluster, keep people coming to the area for business purposes. In a region like Central Florida, those sectors have economic synergy with people visiting Orlando for business bringing their families for leisure. The next thing we’re looking for is more trade show and convention center visitors.”



  • Merritt Island-based Blue Origin is in the planning stages of a 70-acre expansion of its campus expansion. The unveiling of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket is expected late this year.
  • Disney Cruise Line added new itineraries to its 2023 lineup, setting sail from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas, Caribbean and Mexican Riviera.


  • Tavares is creating a regional workforce training and innovation center with a $6-million Florida Job Growth grant. The initiative, a collaboration with Lake Technical College, enables it to increase enrollment from 16 students to 48.
  • AdventHealth plans to build a hospital at Florida’s Turnpike and Hancock Road this year. The company just opened a Clermont emergency department and plans to open an outpatient services facility in Clermont this month.


  • The London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Lyle Lovett and Jennifer Hudson help kick off two weeks of celebration as the opening of Steinmetz Hall marks the completion of Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The concert hall holds 1,700 and includes a moving stage.
  • Texas lithiumion battery manufacturer Microvast is hiring engineers and has purchased a building it will use for a research and development facility in Lake Mary. The 75,000-sq.-ft. building is on eight acres. The company is expected to create 100 jobs over five years.
  • AdventHealth is building a 12-story tower off I-4 at Orlando’s Health Village campus that will house the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, neurology and neurosurgery services as well as research and academics.
  • As part of its Orlando expansion, new Waterford Lakes restaurant PopStroke is expected to bring 75 to 100 jobs when completed this spring. Designed by Tiger Woods’ TGR Design, PopStroke features a 14,000-sq.-ft. eatery and will include two 18-hole miniature golf courses, event space and a beer garden.
  • The University of Central Florida was one of 10 institutions nationwide to receive the Seal of Excelencia from a national organization for its efforts in promoting the success of Latino students.


  • Kissimmee has invested more than a half-million dollars into Operation Business Boost, bringing its business assistance and growth programs under one umbrella to better help businesses impacted by COVID-19. Programs include personalized business coaching, grants, salary subsidies and employee training.
  • The county is on schedule in acquiring rights-of-way along southern Poinciana Boulevard in Kissimmee. The county plans to widen the road to four lanes and add a median. Traffic is expected to increase by 65% over the next 15 years; the county says construction will begin in 2023.


  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University named Robert Sumwalt III, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, distinguished fellow in aviation safety and executive director of the new Center for Aviation and Aerospace Safety. The center will address safety involving new technologies such as unmanned aerial systems and machine-to-machine interfaces.
  • Insurance company Brown & Brown has finished an 11-story office tower on Beach Street in Daytona Beach, and work continues on another tower and commercial space. Planning is underway to renovate the northern part of Beach Street and the eastern part of Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard. Chairman J. Hyatt Brown is donating $25 million to redo Riverfront Park, with work to begin in 2023.
  • A $45-million renovation of the Plaza Resort & Spa is underway in Daytona Beach.
  • Latitude Margaritaville at Daytona Beach has completed a number of amenities, including a business center and crafts room.