by Amy Keller
Orlando International Airport debuted its new $2.75-billion, 15-gate terminal, which features a slew of technological touches. Among the highlights are:
- 100% automated screening lanes at the TSA checkpoint.
- Facial recognition for travelers arriving or departing on international flights.
- A new baggage handling system. Every checked bag is transported in its own bin equipped with a radio frequency identification chip so it can be tracked at all times. The smart bins are designed to eliminate baggage jams and speed up retrieval.
- More than 1,000 high-definition video displays to help guide travelers from check-in through boarding.
- Large-scale multimedia public art installations showcasing immersive and interactive visual experiences. Departing passengers who enter the Moment Vault, for instance, can engage in a 360-degree immersive surround experience, with the digital canvas seemingly transporting them into a deep blue spring teeming with bioluminescent fish or to the rocky red surface of Mars. Plans call for a bridge connecting to an “intermodal terminal facility,” which will serve as a hub for Brightline’s high-speed rail service between Orlando and Miami, and eventually from Orlando to Tampa. Service connecting Orlando to South Florida is expected to commence in 2023.
- VerdeGo Aero, a Daytona Beach startup that develops power and propulsion technologies for high-performance electric aircraft, landed $12 million in funding led by RTX Ventures (Raytheon Technologies). Other investors include DiamondStream Partners, Seyer Industries, Avfuel Technology Initiatives, Standish Spring Investments, Hatter Angel Network at Stetson University and Welojets.
- Space Perspective — which plans to ferry passengers to the edge of space in a pressurized capsule carried by a giant balloon — unveiled an updated capsule design that includes a roomier interior, reflective window coatings similar to an astronaut’s helmet to keep the interior cool, a patent-pending thermal control system to increase comfort and a patentpending splash cone for a gentle and safe landing in the ocean. Commercial flights are expected to begin at the end of 2024. Round-trip flights will last about six hours and cost $125,000 per person.
BANKING & FINANCE
- Orlando-based DeepWork Capital was named investment manager for the Florida Opportunity Fund, which provides venture capital and other assistance to emerging Florida companies.
- Launch Credit Union opened a second branch in Titusville, bringing its total number of branches in Brevard and Volusia counties to 19.
- Orlando-based Globalfy has launched a platform that enables international entrepreneurs to set up a business in the United States. The company offers services for business formation, banking, bookkeeping, a mailing address and other needs for $599 per year. The startup has 60 employees and plans to expand to 100 by the end of the year.
- KPMG, which employs more than 1,400 across Orlando, plans to add 650 jobs in the region over the next two years.
- California-based Bridge Logistics Properties paid $44.25 million for a 130-acre site in Kissimmee, where it plans to build seven class A industrial buildings totaling 1.4 million square feet.
- LeCesse Development, headquartered in Altamonte Springs, has broken ground on Trio, a 292-unit, fourstory apartment complex near Orlando International Airport. The three-building complex is slated to open in 2023 and is part of the company’s push to build 5,000 units within five years.
- Universal Engineering Sciences, headquartered in Orlando, has acquired Phoenix-based consulting engineering firm Speedie & Associates. The transaction gives Universal Engineering Sciences 70 branches around the country with more than 3,300 employees.
- Orlando Health is building a neuroscience institute at its downtown Orlando campus. The facility will house the Orlando Health Neuroscience Institute. The institute is scheduled to open in late 2023. Orlando Health has acquired the Medical Center for Radiology Group.
- The Florida Autism Center, a division of BlueSprig Pediatrics, opened a location in Winter Park.
- Robert Bowden is retiring as director of Orlando’s Harry P. Leu Gardens after leading the 50- acre botanical facility for nearly three decades.
- The Osceola Council on Aging has received $5.7 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for an affordable housing project called Buen Vecino that will feature 60 one-bedroom apartments for “very low-income seniors.” Osceola County and the city of Kissimmee will invest an additional $4.3 million in the project.
- Winter Park philanthropists Don and Cindy Diebel are donating $1 million to help build the Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center. The $13.5-million project is part of non-profit Lift Orlando’s efforts to revitalize the West Lakes neighborhood near Camping World Stadium. KPMG recently committed $1 million to Lift Orlando.
- Jim Pugh has retired as chairman of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts following two decades of leadership and was named chair emeritus. Ed Timberlake has stepped into the chairman role.
- The cost of renting a single-family home in Orlando increased 24.8% between May 2021 and May 2022. That’s nearly double the national average and the second highest increase in the nation after Miami, where rents have climbed by 39.5%, according to property data firm CoreLogic. In April, the median Orlando single-family rent was $1,904 and $2,435 in Miami.
- Falcon’s Beyond Global, an experiential entertainment company in Orlando, is going public on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol FBYD.
- Indie Campers, an ondemand camping vehicle rental company, opened its seventh U.S. location in downtown Orlando.