Osceola Sensor Facility Breaks Ground

Filed in: Osceola County , Manufacturing , Economic Development Projects

FAMRC.jpgOfficials from Osceola County, UCF, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and the EDC broke ground on the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (FAMRC), the 100,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing research facility set to open in 2016.

During remarks, UCF President Dr. Hitt mentioned that UCF is competing for $200 million in federal and private funds to house a national Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute for Manufacturing Innovation. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signaled the White House's support of investment in this area and the belief that photonics will be a cornerstone in manufacturing's future.

October 21, 2014

Regional innovators celebrated at Schwartz Tech Awards

Filed in: Events , General News


More than 500 people gathered in downtown Orlando Tuesday evening for the 24th-annual Schwartz Tech Awards hosted by the Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) in partnership with the Orlando Tech Association and Florida High Tech Corridor Council.

The awards celebration, named after the late William C. Schwartz, an innovator within the field of optics and photonics, recognized companies and individuals for bright ideas, creative solutions, pioneering research and support for Orlando's booming technology industry.

This year, with a new format, the event provided a unique networking opportunity for business leaders and emerging tech leaders and was held as part of the inaugural Orlando Tech Week.

"With technology as our second-largest industry, the EDC has worked hard this past year to include more representation from the region's tech community on our board, and we have pursued strategic initiatives in digital media; modeling, simulation and training; and advanced manufacturing," said Rick Weddle, President & CEO of the Orlando EDC. "The tech industry in Orlando employs nearly 50,000 people with a $14 billion economic impact to the region."

Congratulations to all of this year's Schwartz Tech Awards winners:

Orange County Regional Innovator: Productivity Apex, Inc.

Seminole County Regional Innovator: CareSpotter

Lake County Regional Innovator: Electron Machine Corporation

Osceola County Regional Innovator: Photon-X

City of Orlando Regional Innovator: SPLYT

Florida High Tech Corridor Innovator: FAZ Technology

Academic Researcher of the Year: Dr. Sudipta Seal, University of Central Florida

Industry Researcher of the Year: Dr. Steven Smith, Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes

Diversity in Tech Award: Carlos Carbonell, Echo Interaction Group

Tech Investor of the Year: Allen Kupetz, venVelo

Tech Community Champion: Dr. Thomas O'Neal, University of Central Florida

View the full list of nominees on the Schwartz Tech Awards website.

With a mission to aggressively attract, retain and grow jobs for the Orlando region, the Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership serving Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties and the City of Orlando. The Orlando EDC's vision is to champion a more prosperous and diverse economy, and since 1977 has successfully assisted thousands of companies locate or expand in Orlando. This has resulted in more than 180,100 jobs announced, $9.8 billion in capital investment and over 80.4 million square feet of office and industrial space leased or constructed.

October 2, 2014

Orlando EDC announces new board members for 2014-15

Filed in: General News , Idea People

AEDO-headshot-lineup.jpgThe Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) announced its 2014-15 officers and Board of Directors during its annual meeting Thursday.

Thomas K. Sittema, CEO of CNL Financial Group, will serve as the Orlando EDC's new Chair; David Fuller, President, CEO and Chairman of SunTrust Bank's Central Florida division is Vice Chair; and Robert Utsey, Senior Vice President at Skanska USA Building, Inc., will serve as Secretary/Treasurer. Scott Faris, CEO of AeroSonix, Inc., is the Orlando EDC's Past Chair.

Sittema thanked Faris for his leadership during the past year as he took the gavel during Thursday's annual Orlando EDC Board Meeting. He encouraged new and current board members to be ambassadors for the region and stay actively engaged with the EDC's efforts. "At the end of the day, we're about jobs," he said. "We're about creating quality jobs and an environment that gives us opportunities to share wealth with the region."

In the coming year, the Orlando EDC will launch its new regional business branding campaign with the support of its community and business partners to increase nationwide consideration of Orlando as a business location and highlight the region's assets "on-the-road" with Business Development missions to key markets across the United States. The Orlando EDC will also work with education, industry and government partners to help secure funding for the new Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Osceola County and replenish the state's funding for the Film and Entertainment incentive program, while also showcasing the critical economic development impact of Orlando's modeling, simulation and defense industry.

Along with announcing new officers, the Orlando EDC also selected new Board of Directors members, including Paul Baker, Vice President External Relations, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute; Phil Braun, Vice President and General Counsel, Central Florida Health Alliance; William Bucher, Executive Vice President and CEO, Axium-Healthcare Pharmacy; Jeffrey Douglass, CEO, Cybis Communications; Erik Genrich, Vice President and General Manager Central Florida, CenturyLink; David Hubbard, Campus President, Keiser University; Coco Johnston, Asian American Chamber of Commerce; Jeffrey Q. Jonasen, Shareholder/Attorney, Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A.; Giorgina Pinedo-Rolon, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando; Wanda Riley, Operations Director, Cushman Wakefield; Nancy Schwalb, President Schwalb Public Relations; and Mary W. Trier, President and CEO, Capital Communications & Consulting.

For a list of EDC Board members, click here. All terms begin Oct. 1.

With a mission to aggressively attract, retain and grow jobs for the Orlando region, the Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership serving Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties and the City of Orlando. The Orlando EDC's vision is to champion a more prosperous and diverse economy, and since 1977 has successfully assisted thousands of companies locate or expand in Orlando. This has resulted in more than 176,750 jobs announced, $9.5 billion in capital investment and over 79.7 million square feet of office and industrial space leased or constructed.

September 30, 2014

Orlando EDC joins elite top 1 percent of EDOs nationwide

Filed in: General News , Why Orlando?

AEDO-accreditation-wPlayButton_web.jpgThe Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) is the nation's latest economic development organization to be accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

Of the 4,400 economic development organizations in North America, the Orlando EDC joins the top 1 percent of economic development organizations that are accredited by IEDC as an Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO).

"The Orlando EDC and its team led by Rick Weddle display the professionalism, commitment and technical expertise that is deserving of this honor," said IEDC President and CEO Jeff Finkle.

The AEDO program is a comprehensive peer review process that measures economic development organizations against the highest standards in the profession. The program involves two phases - documentation review and an on-site visit. Each phase is designed to evaluate information about the structure, organization, funding, programs and staff of the organization.

"The Orlando EDC is proud to be recognized by IEDC and for the opportunity to highlight its work in the Orlando region recruiting higher-wage jobs and mission-critical strategic jobs initiatives for our community," said Rick Weddle, President and CEO of the Orlando EDC, and the first Chairman of the Board of IEDC in 2002. "As we're working to become the nation's preeminent economic development organization, we are honored by the IEDC's accreditation."

Earning the AEDO accreditation tells the community and business prospects that the Orlando EDC has attained a measure of excellence assuring that their trust is well-placed and their business is in good hands.

During the on-site visit in August, IEDC representatives met with EDC Chair Scott Faris, CEO of AeroSonix, Inc.; incoming Vice Chair David Fuller, Chairman, President and CEO of SunTrust Bank's Central Florida division; incoming Secretary/Treasurer Robert Utsey, Senior Vice President of Skanska USA Building; Orlando EDC Past Chair Lars Houmann, President and CEO of Florida Hospital; along with Orlando EDC Board members Orlando Evora, Co-managing Shareholder of GreenbergTraurig; Harold Mills, CEO of ZeroChaos; Mike Poteshman, Executive Vice President and CFO of Tupperware Brands Corp.; and Rasesh Thakkar, Senior Managing Director of Tavistock Group.

IEDC representatives also met with the EDC's Regional Economic Developers (RED) Team, a committee of the region's economic development professionals from the member counties/communities, higher education institutions, utility companies and workforce development organizations to learn more about how the EDC partners with the community. Additionally, they met with leaders from the newly created International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research and Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development organization.

Maintenance of the AEDO status is required every three years and is accomplished through documentation submission and/or on-site visits by a team of the AEDO subcommittee.

With a mission to aggressively attract, retain and grow jobs for the Orlando region, the Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership serving Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties and the City of Orlando. The Orlando EDC's vision is to champion a more prosperous and diverse economy, and since 1977 has successfully assisted thousands of companies locate or expand in Orlando. This has resulted in more than 176,750 jobs announced, $9.5 billion in capital investment and over 79.7 million square feet of office and industrial space leased or constructed.

The International Economic Development Council is the largest membership association serving economic and community development professionals in the world. With over 4,400 members nationwide and abroad, IEDC offers the economic development profession one source for information and professional development, one voice for the profession and one force for advocacy.

You can watch IEDC's full message to the Orlando EDC about its accreditation here.

September 25, 2014

Site Selection magazine spotlights Orlando

Filed in: Entrepreneur , General News , Idea People , Why Orlando? , Workforce

Orlando2012Skyline_SteveVaughn_web.jpgOrlando is on a roll. In fact, Michael Kruklinkski, Head of Region Americas for Siemens Real Estate, likes what the city has to offer.

In the article "Downtown Ain't Want It Used to Be" in September's issue of Site Selection magazine, Siemens said that they "felt we could find great internal and external resources, Spanish speakers, and good corporate connectivity to Central and South America."

When deciding earlier this year to move headquarters from Athens, Ohio, the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) narrowed its choices to four, from more than 30 cities. The filters proved to be tough: the new city had to be in the top 30 as measured by passenger count at an airport that was located within 30 miles; the cost of living index needed to be less than 120; the city had to project an entrepreneurial image; and it needed to have a strong ability to host events. Ultimately, Orlando won out.

With the changing landscape of the downtown scene, business decision makers say their key target becomes attracting and retaining millennials. Data compiled by Wendell Cox found a correlation of population growth between ages 20-29 and southeastern U.S. cities ranking at the top of the list. Rounding out the top 20 included Orlando, Miami, Charlotte and Nashville.

Read the full article here.

September 25, 2014

'Game Changer:' UCF to pursue downtown Orlando campus


ucf_89268439_Small-548x365.jpgThe University of Central Florida will move forward with plans for an expanded downtown campus to enhance educational opportunities and stimulate downtown Orlando, UCF President John C. Hitt announced Tuesday.

Hitt described UCF's plans as a "game changer" for downtown. Valencia College will be a partner in the expansion, and approximately 10,000 students from the two schools could study downtown.

"Today, through another bold collaboration, we explore a vision for UCF in Orlando that could energize downtown and redefine its future," Hitt told a crowd of community and business leaders Tuesday at a downtown breakfast.

Read more about the downtown campus expansion plans on UCF's website.

September 24, 2014

Orlando EDC awarded $50,000 grant from Duke Energy

Filed in: General News , Research and Development

duke.jpgThe Duke Energy Foundation has awarded the Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) $50,000 toward new efforts to research key industries and educate businesses and residents about Orlando's economic development landscape.

Duke Energy, which has partnered with the Orlando EDC since 1978 (previously as Progress Energy) in its mission to attract, retain and grow jobs for the region, announced it would provide the grant to the EDC Foundation for Education, Inc., which offers educational programs on economic topics for government and business leaders, residents and the media.

"Duke Energy plays a critical role in supporting our region's business community and working alongside the Orlando EDC with companies looking to expand or locate here," said Rick Weddle, President and CEO of the Orlando EDC, which oversees the Foundation. "We're pleased with their continued support and look forward to partnering to better educate residents and current and prospective businesses of Orlando's assets."

"Our partnership with the Orlando EDC on this initiative underscores our shared focus and commitment to bringing new jobs and capital investment to this area," said Laura Boisvert, Vice President, Community Relations and Economic Development with Duke Energy. "The work the EDC is doing will help ensure Orlando is top of mind for competitive economic development projects."

The Orlando EDC will use the grant for industry-specific research into targeted sectors with a growing presence in the region, such as Business Services, Advanced Technologies, Film & Digital Media, Life Sciences & Healthcare, and Aviation, Aerospace & Defense.

This data and other reports generated with support from the grant will also be made available on the Orlando EDC's website (http://orlandoedc.com) for public access. The grant award coincides with the launch of a new regional business brand geared toward educating residents and out-of-market industry leaders about Orlando as a premier business location.

Duke Energy, along with Orange and Osceola counties, Florida Hospital, Orlando Magic, Walt Disney World, Florida Blue, Greenberg Traurig, CNL, OUC-The Reliable One and several other business leaders, are supporters of the new regional branding campaign with the platform, "Orlando. You don't know the half of it."

Recently named one of the year's top 10 utility companies in economic development by Site Selection magazine, Duke Energy also serves on the Orlando EDC's Regional Economic Developers Team, which is made up of economic development professionals from the Orlando EDC's member counties and the City of Orlando, higher educational institutions, utility companies, workforce development organizations and other partners to strengthen and improve the region's economic development delivery system.

The Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership that attracts, retains and grows jobs for the region. The EDC serves Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties and the City of Orlando in Florida. Since its start in 1977, the EDC, with the support of its community partners, has assisted thousands of companies relocate and expand in the four-county Orlando region. This has led to more than 176,750 jobs announced; $9.5 billion in capital investment; and more than 79.7 million square feet of office and industrial space leased or constructed. For more information, visit www.OrlandoEDC.com.

Duke Energy Florida owns coal-fired and natural gas generation providing about 9,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.7 million customers in a 20,000-square-mile service area. With its Florida regional headquarters located in St. Petersburg, Fla., Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States with approximately $115 billion in total assets. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.2 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest. Its commercial power and international energy business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK.

The Duke Energy Foundation actively works to improve the quality of life in its communities, lending expertise in the form of leadership and philanthropic support to charitable organizations. Duke Energy has long been committed to building and supporting the communities in which its customers and employees live and work.

September 23, 2014

Orlando EDC President travels to China

Filed in: General News , International business

MeiMeng_and_RickWeddle_newsroom.jpgAs president of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), the Orlando EDC's Rick Weddle traveled to China this month to help one of the world's largest university science parks, TusPark, celebrate its 20th anniversary.

Weddle spoke to more than 400 guests from around the world, including government and university officials and science park managers and companies, about Orlando's experience with growing its Central Florida Research Park and innovation economy. He also presented Mei Meng, Chairman of TusPark, with an IASP Award for Outstanding Leadership in the science park movement during the opening ceremony.

Weddle also was a panelist discussing the role of IASP and science parks for a taped television show on China Central Television that is scheduled to air later this year.

Learn more about IASP on its website.

September 2, 2014

Development agreement approved for smart sensor research center

Filed in: Manufacturing , Osceola County , Research and Development

Osceola County Commissioners approved a development agreement with the University of Central Florida and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council on Monday that lays out construction details for the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center.

The 100,000 square-foot, 2-story building will be built on 20 of the 165 acres set aside for economic development on U.S. Highway 192, across from Osceola Heritage Park. The budget for the first phase is $70 million. The county will be responsible for design and construction, which is expected to begin in March 2015, with a 2-year timeline to completion.

"This is just the next step in our vision to grow high-wage jobs for Osceola County and Central Florida. The center will be the heart of research aimed at advancing technologies that will shape the future," said Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins, Jr. "Interest is high in this facility and I'm confident that it will make Florida a global leader in a rapidly growing industry."

The center will be the home of research facilities that will design the future generations of sensors, making everything from automobiles, surgical devices, home appliances and a host of other devices safer and more useful.

"This is a unique opportunity for Florida," said M.J. Soileau, vice president for research & commercialization at UCF. "We are already working diligently to attract the highest-caliber research and development talent to help this consortium meet the needs of high-tech industry in Florida."

UCF and Florida High Tech Corridor Council will each provide $1 million to support administration and marketing of the R&D Center to potential users.

"The Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, a partnership between Osceola County, UCF and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, is a great example of a team effort to be a leader in adding research, manufacturing and other high-tech, high-wage jobs in the region and our state. It is an opportunity to see and be part of Florida's future," said Randy Berridge, president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council."

Details of the agreement include:

* The initial construction will include shell space for the ultimate 100,000 square foot facility and build-out of clean room, office/laboratory and support space based on the available project budget. It is anticipated that approximately one-third of the building will be built-out in the initial phase. Subsequent phases are dependent on the availability of additional funds.

* The initial phase budget of $70 million breaks down as follows: (1) a Building Budget of $50 million for design and construction of the R&D Building, which will be funded from net proceeds bonds payable from the local government half-cent sales tax to be issued by the County (Sales Tax Bonds); (2) a Tools Budget of $11 million for acquisition and installation of specialized equipment for research and development (Tools), which shall be also funded from net proceeds of the Sales Tax Bonds; (3) a Flex Budget of $9 million funded by UCF.

* The design and construction of the complete R&D Building will cost approximately $75 million with an additional $120 million for Tools and other project costs. The County and UCF will work together to secure the additional resources from National, State, and Regional governmental organizations and community partners. If and when additional resources are secured, the County and UCF have agreed to supplement the Development Agreement, as necessary, to establish a capital budget and provide for design and construction of improvements to the R&D Building and the acquisition and installation of additional Tools.

"This center provides our region with a leapfrog strategy for Florida's global competitive advantage in the research and development of next-generation universal smart sensors," said Rick Weddle, President and CEO of the Orlando Economic Development Commission. "Becoming a leader in advanced manufacturing with the establishment of this center and its related initiatives will help create more than 20,000 high-paying tech-oriented jobs over the next decade."

August 26, 2014

First U.S. industry-led smart sensor consortium in Osceola County

Filed in: Manufacturing , Economic Development Projects , Osceola County , Research and Development

QuarterlyInvestorUpdate_81214_small.jpgIn June, we told you about a state-of-the-art research center focused on the next generation of universal smart sensors. As mentioned, the center's goal was to recruit companies to create the world's first industry-led smart sensor consortium.

At our Quarterly Investor Update held at Osceola Heritage Park last week, leaders from Osceola County, University of Central Florida and the Orlando Economic Development Commission announced the creation of the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (iCAMR) with a panel discussion that also included GrayRobinson, P.A. and Lockheed Martin.

The consortium is already hard at work recruiting companies from around the world to develop and manufacture the next generation of universal smart sensors for a variety of industries - from agriculture and aerospace to medical and defense - and will provide Florida with an unmatched global competitive advantage in advanced manufacturing.

Orlando EDC Chair Scott Faris praised local leaders and UCF researchers for their multi-year dedication to the project.

"This technology will take us into the future," said Osceola County Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins, Jr., whose county pledged $61 million to establish a partnership with UCF and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council to create the center.

By next year, industry leaders expect the international smart sensor market to be at $7.8 billion and could reach $1.9 trillion by 2020.

"We're going to be the leader in this technology space in the world, thanks to this project," said Charlie Gray from GrayRobinson, P.A.

Calling the project "game changing," Jeff Pridmore of Lockheed Martin said iCAMR and its research center will allow for more companies in the region to become involved in advanced manufacturing, reducing barriers to entry. "There has been a hole in this region, and this consortium will help fill that gap," he said.

Based on similar technology and incubation consortia in other U.S. cities, local leaders expect iCAMR could help create 20,000 high-tech jobs in the next decade across the region.

To help fund start-up operations costs, the state recently awarded the consortium a $1.9 million Quick Action Closing Fund, while the consortium continues raising additional money for research and development, as well as recruiting industry partners.

August 19, 2014

About the
News Room


The PR team at the Orlando EDC is your source for business news in Orlando, providing you with story ideas about trends, people and companies; statistical information and background; offering expert sources; and connecting you with community leaders.

Media Contact: Jennifer Wakefield
407.422.7159 x232 (office)
407.617.0476 (cell)



Expert Sources
Notable Media Coverage


Biotech / Life science
City of Orlando
Clean Tech / Green
Digital Media
Economic Development Projects
Financial services
General News
Idea People
Innovative Companies
International business
Lake County
Optics and photonics
Orange County
Osceola County
Research and Development
Seminole County
Small business
Why Orlando?


October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
January 2014
November 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008